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BOHN'S STANDARD LIBEARY. 


TIE THEORY OF MORAL SENTIMENTa 


THEOET 
MOEAL SENTIMENTS; 


A DISSERTATION OK THE ORIGIN OF UNGHAGES. 

ADAM SMITH, LL.D.j RR.S, 
NEW eomoN, 

WITH A BIOaBAPmCAL AND OBITICAL HBHeiR OT THE AUIBOB, 
BY DHOALD STBWJ 


LONDON: 
HENRY a. BOHN, YOEK STBEET, 
1&S3. 


I 


CONTENTS. 


•m^^^^*f^m0>0^w*t* 


PART L 

Page 

Of the tkofriett of AcnoN, . ; • • 1 


SECTION I. 

Of the sekse of pbofsiett, • • . • 8 

CHAP. I. Of Sympathy, . . . . ib. 

II. Of the Pleasure of mntual Sympathy, • 10 

III. Of the Manner in which we judge of the Propriety or 

Impropriety of the Affections of other Men, by 

their concord or dissonance with our own, . 14 

lY. The same Subject continued, . • 19 

y. Of the amiable and respectable Virtues, . 26 


SECTION II. 

Of the DEaBEES OF THE DIFFERENT PABSIOKS WHICH ARE CONSIS- 
TENT WITH PBOPBIETT, . . . . .31 

Introduction, • . . • . . • t&. 

CHAP. I. Of the Passions which take their origin from the Body, 83 
••• II. Of those Passions which take their origin from a parti- 
cular turn or habit of the Imagination, . 39 
••• IIL Of the Unsocial' Passions, • ; • .44 


VI CONTENTS. 

Face 

CHAP. IV. Of the Social Passions, . . • 62 

y. Of the Selfish Passions, • • . 55 


SECTION III. 

Of the effects of pbosfeeitt and adyebsity upon the judg- 
ment OF MANKIND WITH BEQAED TO THE PEOFSIBTT OF ACTION ; 
AND WHY IT IS MOBE EASY TO OBTAIN THEIB APPBOBATION IN THE 
ONE STATE THAN IN THE OTHEB, • . • . • 60 

CHAP. I. That though our bj mpaifty with Sorrow is generally 
a more liyely sensation than our sympathy with 
Joy, it commonly falls much more short of the 
violence of what is naturally felt by the person 
principally concerned, . . . ib. 

II. Of the origin of Ambition, and of the distinction of 

Ranks, .. '. ■ > \ I . ^ , . 70 

III. Of the corruption of our Moral Sentiments, which 
is occasioned* by this disposition to admixe tiie 
rich and the great, and to despise or neglect per- 
sons of poor and mean condition, . 84 


• PART n. 

Qr MERIT AND DEMOUUT ; OB^ OV THB QBJJECTS Off BEWARD 

A2H> pismasMBBn^ ^ • 91 

SECTION I. 

Of THE SENSE OF UEBIT AND DEMEBIT, • • • 93 

Introduction, ...••• i6. 

CHAP. I. That whateyer appears to ^ be the proper object 

of gratitude appears to deserve reward ; and 

that, in the same manner^ whatever" appean to be 

• the proper object of resentment appean to do- 

-^ . . serve punishment, . ..... 9€ 

: : • n. . Of ^ proper Oljocts of CHmtitnde aind BMentmentr 97. 
III. That where thaw is no appoofaation of the conduct 
, of the pexsoxl 'vho confers, the benefit, there is 
. littlQ sympathy, with i^e:.gfatitQd6. ^f.UtiaT^ho 
receives it ; and that, on the contrary, where there 


••• 


COSTTEMTS. 'A 


18 no'disapprobation of the motives of the person 
who does the mischief, there is no sort of 87m- 
pathy with the resentment of him who suffers 
it, . . . . • .100 

CHAP. IV. Recapitulation of the foregoing Chapters, . 103 

y. The Analysis of the Sense of Merit and Demerit, 105 


SECTION II. 

Of JusncB ahd besefice^ce, • • • • .112 

CHAP. I. Comparison ot those two Virtues, . . , ib, 

II. Of the sense of Justice, of Remorse, and of the 

consciousness of Merit," • . .119 

... III. Of the utility of this constitution of Nature, 124 


SECTION III. 

Of the influence of fortune upon the sentihents of man- 
kind,with begabd to the mesit or demerit of actions, . 133 

Introduction, • •••••»&. 

CHAP. I. Of the Causes of this Influence of Fortune, . 136 
IL Of the Extent of this Influence of Fortune, . 141 
III. Of the final Cause of this Irregularity of Senti- 
ments, • . . • . 152 


PART ni. 

Of the rOUNDATION OF OUR JUDGMENTS CONCERNING OUR 
' OWN SENTIMENTS AND CONDUCT, AND OF THE SENSE OF 
DUTY, •*.... 159 

CHAP. I. Of the Principle of Self-approhation and Self-disap- 

prohation, . . . . . 161 

IL Of the love of Praise, and of that of Praise-worthi- 
ness ; and of the dread of Blame, and of that of 
Blame-worthiness, . . 166 

••• III. Of the Influence and Authority of Conscience, . 191 
IV. Of the Nature of Self-deceit, and of the Origin and 

Use of general Bules, . • .221 

y. Of the Influence and Authority of the general 


•»• 


fBi OOKTEMTS. 

FSffV 

RnleB of Morality, and that they are justly re- 
garded as the Laws of the Deity, . . 229 
CHAP. YI. In what cases the Sense of Duty ought to be the 
sole principle of our Conduct ; and in what cases 
it ought to concur with other Motives, 243 

PART IV. 
Of the effect of xmLmr upon the bejxtimisst of 

APPROBATION, ..... 265 

CHAP. I. Of the Beauty which the Appearance of Utility be- 
stows upon all the Productions of Art, and of 
the extensiye Influence of this Species of 
Beauty, ..... 257 

... n. Of the Beauty which the Appearance of Utility be- 
stows upon the Characters and Actions of Men ; 
and how far the Perception of this Beauty may 
be regarded as one of the original Principles of 
Approbation, . • . .269 

PART . V. 
Of the influence of custom and fashion upon the 

SENTIMENTS OF MORAL APPROBATION AND DISAPPRO- 
BATION, 279 

CHAP. I. Of the Influence of Custom and Fashion upon our 

notions of Beauty and Deformity, . 281 

II. Of the Influence of Custom and Fashion upon Moral 

Sentiments, ..... 290 

PARTVL 

Of THE CHABACTEB OF VIRTUE, .... 807 

Introduction, • ' . . . . • . 309 

SECTION L 
Of th£ chabaoteb or the nrDiviDUAL so far as n affbots his 

OWX HAFFIinESB ; OB OF PBUDBHOB, • • • . 810 


SECTION n. 

Fact 

Of the OHARACTEB op the IKDIYIDUAL so fab AB it OAV IFFEOt 
THE HAPPIHE8S OF.OTHEB PEOPLE, • • . • 819 

Introduction, .•••••• ii5. 

CHAP. I. Of tlie Order in which tnditidiialB are noomtnendtfcl 

by Nature to our care and attentloii, . .321 

tl. Of the Order in which Bocietieft an by MatUfe reeom- 

mended to our BenefioeAoe, . . . 334 

III. Of tTniyersal Beneyolenee, . • . 345 

SECTION IIL 
Of belf-gommahd, ...••• 349 

COEGLt^nOH OF ttEES aiZTB FAST, • . • • 886 


PARTVIL 
Of systems of mobal philosofhy, • • -» 889 

SECTION I. 

Of THE QUESnOKB WHICH OUGHT TO BE EXAMINED IH A THBOBT 
OF MOBAL SENTIMENTS, ..... 891 

SECTION II. 

Of the DIFPEBENT AOOOUNTS which hate been OITEH of THE 

NATUBE OP YIBTUE, ..... 393 

Introduction, ...... t&. 

CHAP. I. Of those Systems which make Virtue consist in 

Propriety, ..... 395 
II. Of those Systems which make Virtue consist in 

Prudence, ..... 431 
III. Of those Systems which make Virtue consist in 

Beneyolenee, ..... 440 
••• rV. Of Licentious Systems, . • . • 449 


COTSTTEaXTBi 


SECTION III. 

Pact 

Of tbe diffebeht stbtevs which hate been fobmed oovcesn- 

IHa the FSinCIPLE OF AFPBOBATIOK, • • • 461 

Introduction, •••••«. t6. 

CHAP. I« Of those Systems which deduce the Principle of Ap- 
probation from Self-love, . • . 463 
II. Of those Systems which make Reason the Principle 

of Approbation, • • . . . 467 

«.. III. Of those Systems which make Sentiment the Prin- 
ciple of Approbation, • • • • 472 


SECTION IV. 


Of the icANNEB nr which diffesent authobs hate tbeatep of 


THE PBAOTICAL BULES OF MOBALITT, 


• 482 


CONSIDERATIOKS CONCEROTNG THE FIBST FORMATIOK OF 
LANGUAGES, &C. 505 


r • 


ACCOUNT OF THE LIFE AND WRITINGS 


OF 


ADAM SMITH, LL.D,, 


BY 


DUGALD STEWART, 


Faou his Biath hill thb Publicatioh or thb Theobt 

OF Mobal Sektiuents. 

Adam Smith, aathor of the Inquiry into the Nature and 
Causes of the Wealth of Nations, was the son of Adam Smith, 
comptroller of the customs at Kirkaldj,* and of Margaret Douglas, 
daughter of Mr. Douglas of Strathenry. He was the only child of 
the marriage, and was bom at Kirkaldy, on the 5th of June, 1723, 
a few months after the death of his father. 

His constitution during infancy was infirm and sickly, and re* 
quired all the tender solicitude of his surviving parent. She was 
blamed for treating him with an unlimited indulgence ; but it 
produced no unfavourable effects on his temper or his disposi* 
tion : and he enjoyed the rare satisfaction of being able to repay 
her affection, by every attention that filial gratitude could dictate, 
during the long period of sixty years. 

* Mr. Smith, the father, was a native of Aberdeenshire, and, in the 
earlier part of his life, practised at Edinburgh as a writer to the signet. 
He was afterwards private secretary to the Earl of Loudoun (during the 
time he held the offices of principal secretary of state for Scotland, and 
of keeper of the great seal), and continued in this situation till 1713 or 
1714, when be was appointed comptroller of the customs at Kirkaldy, 
He was also clerk to the courts-martial and councils of war for Scot* 
land ; an office which he held from 1707 till his death. As it is now 
seventy years since he died, the accounts I have received of him are 
very imperfect ; bat, from the particulars already mentioned, it may be 
presumed, that he was a man of more than common abilities. 


xii ACCOUNT or the Lirit akd wbitikgs 

An accident which happened to him when he was about three 
years old, is of too interesting a nature to be omitted in the ac- 
count of so valuable a life. He had been carried by his mother 
to Strathenry, on a visit to his uncle Mr. Douglas, and was one 
day amusing himself alone at the door of the house, when he was 
stolen by a party of that set of vagrants who are known in Scot- 
land by the name of tinkers. Luckily he was soon missed by his 
uncle, who, hearing that some vagrants had passed, pursued 
them, with what assistance he could find, till he overtook them 
in Leslie wood ; and was the happy instrument of preserving to 
the world a genius, which was destined, not only to extend the 
boundaries of science, but to enlighten and reform the commer- 
cial policy of Europe. 

The school of Kirkaldy, where Mr. Smith received the first rudi- 
ments of his education, was then cod ducted by Mr. David Miller, 
a teacher, in his day, of considerable reputation, and whose 
name deserves to be recorded, on account of the eminent men 
whom that very obscure seminary produced while under his 
direction. Of these were Mr. Oswald, of Dunikeir ; • his brother, 
Dr. John Oswald, afterwards Bishop of Raphoe ; and our late 
excellent colleague, the Rev. Dr. John Drysdale: all of them 
nearly contemporary with Mr. Smith, and united with him 
through life by the closest ties of friendship. One of his school- 
fellows is still alive ;t and to his kindness I am principally in- 
debted for the scanty materials which form the first part of thiB 
narrative. 

Among these companions of his earliest years, Mr. Smith soon 
attracted notice, by his passion for books, and by the extraor- 
dinary powers of his memory. The weakness of his bodily consti- 
tution prevented him from partaking in their more active 
amusements ; but he was much beloved by them on account of 
his temper, which, though warm, was, to an uncommon degree, 

* The late James Oswald, Esq. — for many years one of the most 
active, able, and public-spirited of our Scottish representatives in Parlia* 
ment. He was more particularly distinguished by his knowledge in 
matters of finance, and by his attention to whatever concerned the com- 
mercial or the agricultural interests of the country. From the manner 
in which he is mentioned in a paper of Mr. Smith's, which I have 
perused, he appears to have combined, with that detailed Information 
which he is well known to have possessed, as a statesman and man of 
business, a taste for the more general and philosophical discussions of 
political economy. He lived in habits of great intimacy with Lord 
bimes and Mr. Hume ; and was one of Mr. Smith's earliest and moal 
confidential friends. 

t Qeorgo Drysdale, Esq., of Kirkaldy, brother of the late Dr» 
Dkysdale. 


or ADAH SHITHy LLJ>, Zltt 

friendly and generous. Even then he was remarkable for those 
habits which remained with him through life, of speakiqg to him- 
flelf when alone, and of tibgence in oompanj. 

From the grammar-school of Eirkaldj, he was sent, in 17S7, U> 
the university of Glasgow, where he remained till 1740, when 
he went to Baliol College, Oxford, as an exhibitioner on Snell*B 
foundation. 

Br. Maclaine, of the Hague, who was a fellow-student of Mr. 
Smith's at Glasgow, told me some years ago, that his favourite 
pursuits while at that university Were mathematics and natural 
philosophy ; and I remember to have heard my father remind 
him of a geometrical problem of considerable difficulty, about 
which he was occupied at the time when their acquaintance com- 
menced, and which had been proposed to him as an exercise by 
the celebrated Dr. Simpson. 

These, however, were certainly not the sciences in which he 
was formed to excel ; nor did they long divert him from pursuits 
niore congenial to his mind. What Lord Bacon says of Plato may 
be justly applied to him : " Ilium, licet ad rempublicam non ao- ' 
cessisset, tamen natur& et indinatione omnino ad res civiles pro> 
^ pensum, vires eo prseci^ue intendisse ; neque de Philosophia 
Naturali admodum sollicitum esse ; nisi quatenus ad Philosophl 
nomen et celebritatem tuendam, et ad majestatem quandam 
moralibuB et civilibus doctrinis addendom et aspergendam suffi- 
oeret." * The study of human nature in all its branches, more 
particularly of thej>olitical history of mankind, o|)ened a boundless 
field to his curiosity and ambition ; and while it afforded scope 
to all the various powers of his versatile and comprehensive 
genius, gratified his ruling passion of contributing to the happi- 
ness and the improvement of society. To this study, diversified 
at his leisure hours bv the less severe occupations of polite lite- 
rature, he seems to have devoted himself almost entirely from 
the time of his removal to Oxford ; but he still retained^ 
even in advanced years, a recollection of his early acquisitions^ 
which not only added to the splendour of his conversation, but 
eiabled him to exemplify some of l^is favourite theories concern- 
ing the natural progress of the mind in the investigation of truth, 
by the history of those sciences in which the connection and suc- 
cession of discoveries may be traced with the greatest advantaga 
If I am not mistaken, too, the influence of his early taste for the 
Greek Geometry may be remarked in the elementary deamess 
and fulness, bordering sometimes upon prolixity, with which he 
frequently states his political reasonings. The lectures of the 
(profound and eloquent Dr. Hutcheson, which he had attended 

* Bedai^atio Philosophiamm. 


;ay account of thb lif£ and wbitiitos 

previous to hia departure from Glasgow, and of which he alwa]rs 
43poke in terms of the warmest admiration, had, it may be reason* 
ably presumed, a considerable effect in directing his talents tQ 
theit proper objects.* 

I have not been able to collect any information with respect to 
that part of his youth which was spent in England. I have 
heard him say, that he employed himself frequently in the prac* 
tice of translation (particularly from the French), with a view to 
the improvement of his own style : and he used often to express 
a favourable opinion of the utility o^ such exercises to all who 
cultivate the art of composition. It is much to be regretted, that 
none of his juvenile attempts in this way have been preserved ; 
as the few specimens which his writings contain of his skill as a 
translator, are sufficient to show the eminence he had attained in 
a walk of literature, which, in our country, has been so little fre- 
quented by men of genius. 

It was probably also at this period of his life, that he culti-* 
vated with the greatest care the study of languages. The know<« 
ledge he possessed of these, both ancient and modem, was 
uncommonly extensive and accurate ; and, in him, was subser- 
vient, not to a vain parade of tasteless erudition, but to a familiar 
acquaintance with every thing that could illustrate the institutions^ 
the manners, and the ideas of different ages and nations. How 
intimately he had once been conversant with the more orna* 
mental branches of learning, in particular, with the works of 
the Roman, Greek, French, and Italian poets ; appeared sufficiently 
from the hold which they kept of his memory, after all the differ 

* Those who have derived their knowledge of Dr. Hatcheson solely 
from his publications, may, perhaps, be inclined to dispute the propriety 
of the epithet eloquent, when applied to any of his compositions ; more 
particularly, his System of Moral Philosophy, 'which was published after 
his death. His talents, however, as a public speaker, must have been of 
a far higher order than what he has displayed as a writer ; all his pupils 
whom I have happened to meet with (some of them, certainly, very com- 
petent judges) having agreed exactly with each other in their accounts 
Of the extraordinary impressios which they made on the minds of his 
hearers. 

Dr. Hutcheson's Inquiry into our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue ; his 
Discourse on the Passions; and his Illustrations of the Moral Sense, are 
much more strongly marked with the charactcristical features of his 
genius, than his posthumous work. His great and deser\'ed fame, 
however, rests now chiefly on the traditionary history of his acade- 
mical lectures, which appear to have contributed very powerfully 
to diffuse, in Scotland, that taste for analytical discussion, and that 
spirit of liberal inquiry, to which the world is indebted for some of the 
most valuable productions of the eighteenth centui^. 


OF XDIU BXITH, LL.B Tt 

tent occapations and inquiries in which his maturer faculties 
had been employed.* In the English language, the variety ol 
poetical passages which he was not only accustomed to refer to 
occasionally, but which he was able to repeat with correctness, 
appeared surprising even to those whose attention had never 
been directed to more important acquisitions. 

After a residence at Oxford of seven years, he returned to Kir^ 
kaldy, and lived two years with his mother ; engaged in study, 
but without any fixed plan for his future life. He had been ori- 
ginally destined for the Church of England, and with that view 
had been sent to Oxford ; but not fin<ung the ecclesiastical pro* 
fession suitable to his taste, he chose to consult, in this instance^ 
his own inclination, in preference to the wishes of his friends ; 
and abandoning at once all the schemes which their prudence 
had formed for him, he resolved to return to his own country, 
and to limit his ambition to the uncertain prospect of obtaining, 
in time, some one of those moderate preferments, to which literary 
attainments lead in Scotland. 

In the year 1748, he fixed his residence at Edinburgh, and 
during that and the following years, read lectures on rhetoric 
and belles lettres, under the patronage of Lord Eames. About 
this time, too, he contracted a very mtimate friendship, which 
continued without interruption till his death, with Mr. Alexander 
Wedderbum, now Lord Loughborough, and with Mr. William 
Johnstone, now Mr. Pulteney. 

At what particular period his acquaintance with Mr. David 
Hume commenced, does not appear from any iuformation that I 
have received ; but from some papers, now in the possession of 
Mr. Hume's nephew, and which he has been so obliging as to 
allow me to peruse, their acquaintance seems to have grown into 
friendship before the year 1752. It was a friendship on both 
sides founded on the admiration of genius, and the love of sim- 
plicity ; and which forms an interesting circumstance in the his** 
tory of each of these eminent men, from the ambition which both 
have shown to record it to posterity. 

In 1761, he was elected Professor of Logic in the University of 
Glasgow } and the year following, he was removed to the Profes* 

* The uncommon degree in Tvhich Mr. Smith retained possession, 
even to the close of his life, of difi'erent branches of knowledge which 
he had long ceased to cultivate, has been often remarked to me by my 
learned colleague and friend, Mr. Dalzel, Professor of Greek in this 

University. Mr. Dalzel mentioned particularly the readiness and 

correctness of Mr. Smith s memory on philological subjects, and the 
acnteness and skill he displayed in various conversations wiUi him on 
some of the minuticB of Greek grammar. 


V 


xn ACCOUNT or thb Lira A5d vbitings 

flonhip of Moral Philosophy in the same Universit j, upon the death 
of Mr. Thomas Craigie, the immediate successor of Dr. Hutcheson. 
In this situation he remained thirteen years ; a period he used 
frequently to look back to, as the most useful and happy of his 
life. It was indeed a situation in which he was eminently fitted 
to excel, and in which the daily labours of his profession were 
constantly recalling his attention to his favourite pursuits, and 
familiarising his mind to* those important speculations he was 
afterwards to communicate to the world. In this view, though 
it afforded, in the meantime, but a very narrow scene for his am- 
bition, it was probably instrumental, in no inconsiderable degree^ 
to the future eminence of his literary character. 

Of Mr. Smith's lectures while Professor at Glasgow, no part 
has been preserved, excepting what he himself published in the 
Theory of Moral Sentiments, and in the Wealth of Nations. For 
the followingNshort account of them, I am indebted to a gentle- 
man who was formerly one of Mr. Smith's pupils, and who con- 
tinued till his death to be one of his most intimate and valued 
fiiends.* 

" In the Professorship of Logic, to which Mr. Smith was ap- 
pointed on his first introduction into this University, he soon 
saw the necessity of departing widely from the plan that had 
been followed by his predecessors, and of directing the atten- 
tion of his pupils to studies of a more interesting and 'useful 
nature than the logic and metaphysics of the schools. Accord- 
ingly, after exhibiting a general view of the powers of the mind, 
and explaining so much of the ancient logic as was requisite to 
gratify curiosity with respect to an artificial method of reasoning, 
which had once occupied the universal attention of the learned, 
he dedicated all the rest of his time to the delivery of a system of 
Rhetoric and belles lettres. The best method of explaining and 
illustrating the various powers of the human mind, the most 
useful part of metaphysics, arises from an examination of the 
•everal ways of conmiunicating our thoughts by speech, and from 
an attention to the principles of those literary compositions which 
contribute to persuasion or entertainment. By these arts, every- 
thing that we perceive or feel, every operation of our minds, is 
expressed and delineated in such a manner, that it may be clearly 
distinguished and remembered. There is, at the same time, no 
branch of literature more suited to youth at their first entrance 
upon j)hilosophy than this, which lays hold of their taste and 
their feelings. 

" Xt is much to be regretted, that the manuscript containing 

* Mr. Millar, the late celebrated Professor of Law in the Universi^ 
Glasgow. 


OF 49A1C SMITH, Ui.]>. XTU 

Mr. Smith's lectures on this subject was destroyed before his 
death. The first part, in point of composition, was highly 
finished ; and the whole discovered strong marks of taste and 
original genius. From the permission given to students of taking 
notes, many observations and opinions contained in these lectures 
have either been detailed in separate dissertations, or engrossed 
in general collections, which have since been given to the public. 
But these, as might be expected, have lost the air of originality 
and the distinctive character which they received from their first 
author, and are often obscured by that multiplicity of common- 
place matter in which they are sunk and involved. 

" About a year after his appointment to the Professorship of 
Logic, Mr. Smith was elected to the chair of Moral Philosophy. 
His course of lectures on this subject was divided into four parts. 
The first coiitaiDed Natural Theology ; in which he considered 
the proofs of the being and attributes of Qod, and those principles 
of the human mind upon which religion is founded. The second 
comprehended Ethics, strictly so csJled, and consisted chiefly of 
the doctrines which he afterwards published in his Theory of 
Moral Sentiments. In the third part, he treated at more length of 
that branch of morality which relates to justice, and which, being 
susceptible of precise and accurate rules, is for that reason capable 
of a full and particular explanation. 

"Vpon this subject he followed the plan that seems to be sug- 
gested by Montesquieu ; endeavouring to trace the gradual pro- 
gress of jurisprudence, both public and private, from the rudest 
to the most refined ages,. and to point out the efiects of those arts 
which contribute to subsistence, and to the accumulation of pro- 
perty, in producing correspondent improvements or alterations 
in law and government. This important branch of his labours 
he also intended to give to the public ; but this intention, which 
is mentioned in the conclusion of the Theory of Moral Senti- 
ments, he did not live to fulfil. 

'^ In the last part, of his lectures, he examined those political 
regulations which are founded, not upon the principle of justice, 
but that of expediency, and which are calculated to increase the 
riches, the power, and the prosperity of a State. Under this 
view, he considered the political institutions relating to commerce, 
to finances, to ecclesiastical and military establishments. What 
he delivered on these subjects contained the substance of the 
work he afterwards published under the title of An Inquiry into 
the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. 

" There was no situation in which the abilities of Mr. Smith 
appeared to greater advantage than as a Professor. In delivering 
his lectures, he trusted almost entirely to extemporary elocution. 
His manner, though not graceful, was plain and unaffected; and, 


ZVIU ACCOUNT or THB LIFX JUTD WBITIKaS 

as he seemed to be always interested in the subject, he never 
&iled to interest his hearers. Each discourse consisted commouljr 
of several distinct propositions, which he successively endea* 
Youred to prove and illustrate. These propositions, when an- 
nounced in general terms, had, from their extent, not unirequently 
something of the air of a paradox. In his attempts to explain 
them, he often appeared, at first, not to be sufficiently possessed 
of the subject, and spoke with some hesitation. As he advanced, 
however, the matter seemed to crowd upon him, his manner be- 
came warm and animated, and his expression easy and fluent. 
In points suseeptible of controversy, you could easily discern, 
that he secretly conceived an opposition to his opinions, and that 
he was led upon this account to support them with greater energy 
and vehemence. By the fulness and variety of his illustrations, 
the subject gradually swelled in his hands, and acquired a dimen- 
sion which, without a tedious repetition of the same views, was 
calculated to seize the attention of his audience, and to afford 
them pleasure, as well as instruction, in following the same object, 
through all the diversity of shades and aspects in which it was 
presented, and afterwards in tracing it backwards to that ori- 
ginal proposition or general truth from which this beautiful train 
of speculation had proceeded. 

** His reputation as a Professor was accordingly raised jrery 
high, and a multitude of students from a great distance resorted 
to the University, merely upon his account. Those branches of 
science which he taught became fashionable at this place, and his 
opinions were the chief topics of discussion in clubs and literary 
societies. Even the small peculiarities in his pronounciation or 
manner of speaking, became frequently the objects of imitation." 

While Mr. Smith was thus distinguishing himself by his zeal 
and ability as a public teacher, he was gradually laying the foun- 
dation of a more extensive reputation, by preparing for the press 
his system of morals. The first edition of this work appeared in 
1769, under the title of "The Theory of Moral Sentiments." 

Hitherto Mr. Smith had remained unknown to the World as 
an author ; nor have I heard that he had made a trial of his 
powers in any anonymous publications, excepting in a periodical 
work called ITie Edinburgh Review, which was begun in the year 
1755, by some * gentlemen of distinguished abilities, but which 
they were prevented by other engagements from carrying further 
than the two first numbers. To this work Mr. Smith contributed 
a review of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, 
and also a letter, addressed to the editors, containing some general 
observations on the state of literature in the different countries of 
Europe. In the former of these papers he points out some defects 
VOL Dr. Johnson's plan, which he censures as not sufficiently gram- 


OF ADAX BXITH, LA.]). ZUt 

maiicaL '^ The different significations of a word (he observes) 
are indeed collected ; but they are seldom digested into general 
classes, or ranged under the meaning which the word principally 
expresses : And sufficient care is not taken to distinguish the 
words apparently synonymous." To illustrate this criticism, he 
copies from Dr. Johnson the articles but and humoub, and 
opposes to them the same articles digested agreeably to his own 
idea. The various significations of we word but are very nicely 
and happily discriminated. Th^ other article does not seem to 
have been executed with equal care. 

The observations on the state of learning in Europe are written 
vdth ingenuity and elegance ; but are chiefly interesting, as they 
show the attcAtion which the Author had given to the philosophy 
and literature of the Continent, at a period when they were not 
much studied in this island. 

In the si^ne volume with the Theory of Moral Sentiments, Mr. 
Smith pubUshed a Dissertation '< On the Origin of Languages, 
and on the different Genius of those which are original and com* 
pounded." The remarks I have to offer on these two discourses, 
I shall, for the sake of distinctness, make the subject of a separate 
section. 


Or THE Theory or MobaIj Seittiheitts, and *fhe Disseb« 

TATION ON THE ObIGIN OV LaNQUAQES. 

The science of Ethics has been divided by modem writers into 
two parts ; the oi)ie comprehending the theory of Morals, and the 
other its practical doctrines. The questions about which the 
former is employed, are chiefly the two following : Firsts By what 
principle of our constitution are we led to form the notion of 
moral distinctions ; — whether by that £arCulty which, in the other 
branches of human knowledge, perceives the distinction between 
truth and falsehood ; or by a peculiar power of perception (called 
by some the Moral Sense) which is pleased with one set of qua- 
lities, and displeased with, another ? Secondly, What is the proper 
object of moral approbation ? or, m other words. What is the com- 
mon quality or qualities belonging to all the different modes of 
virtue 1 Is it benevolence ; or a rational self-love ; or a dispo- 
sition (resulting from the ascendancy of Reason over Passion) to 
act suitably to the different relations in which we are placed ? 
These two questions seem to exhaust the whole theory of Morals* 


XX ACCOUNT or <rHB UFS AHD WBITINGS 

The seope of the one is to ascertain the origin of our moral 
ideas ; that of the other, to refer the phenomena of moral per- 
ception to their most simple and general laws. 

The practical doctrines of morality comprehend aU those rales 
of conduct which profess to point out the proper ends of human 
pursuit, and the most effectual means of attaining them; to 
which we may add all those literary compositions, whatever be 
their particuhir form, which have for their aim to fortify and 
animate our good dispositions, by delineations <^ tite bewuty, of 
the dignity, or of the utility of Virtue. 

I shall not inquire at present into the justness of this division. 
I shall only observe, that the words Theory and Practice are not, 
in this instance, employed in their usual acceptations. The 
theory of Morals does not bear, for example, the same relation to 
the practice of Morals, that the theory of Geometry bears to prac- 
tical Geometery. In this last science, all the practical rules are 
founded on theoretical principles previously established. But in the 
former science, the practical rules are obvious to the capacities 
of all mankind ; the theoretical principles form one of the most 
difficult subjects of discusuon that have ever exercised the inge- 
nuity of metaphysicians. 

In illustrating the doctrines of practical morality (if we make 
allowance for some unfortunate prejudices produced or encou- 
raged by violent and oppressive systems of policy), the ancients 
seem to have availed themselves of every light furnished by 
nature to human reason ; and indeed those writers who, in later 
times, have treated the subject with i\A greatest success, are 
they who have followed jnost closely the footsteps of the Greek 
and the Roman philosophers. The theoretical question, too, con- 
cerning the essenoe^of virtue, or the proper obfect of moral appro- 
bation, was a favourite topic of discussion in the ancient schools. 
The question concerning the principle of meral approbation, 
. though not entirely of modem origin, has been chiefly agitated 
since the writings of Oudworth, in opposition to those of 
Hobbes ; and it is this question accordingly (recommended at 
once by its novelty and difficulty to the curiosity of speculative 
men) that has produced most of the theories which characterise 
and distinguish from each other the later systems of moral 
philosophy. 

It was the opinion of Dr. Cudworth, and also of Dr. Clarke, 
that moral distinctions are perceived by that power of the mind, 
which distinguishes truth from falsehood. This system it was one 
great object of Dr. Hutcheson's philosophy to refiite, and in oppo- 
sition to it, to show that the words Right and Wrong express cer- 
tain agreeable and disagreeable qualities in action^ which it is not 
the province of reason but of feeling to perceive ; and to that power 


or ADAS 8XITH, LLJ>. XSi 

of perception which rendenns sasceptible of pletmre or of pain i^m 
the view of virtue or of vice, he gave the name of the Moral Sense. 
His reasonings upon this subject are in the main acquiesced in, 
both by Mr. Hume and Mr. Smith ; but they differ from him in 
one important particular, — Dr. Hutcheson plainly supposing, that 
the moral sense is a simple principle of our Constitution, of which 
no account can be given ; whereas the other two philosophers 
have both attempt^ to analyze it into other principles more 
general Their systems, however, with respect to it are very dif- 
ferent from each other. According to Mr. Hume, all the qnsr 
lities which are denominated virtuous, are useful either to 
ourselves or to others, and the pleasure which we derive from the 
view of them is the pleasure of utility. Mr. Smith, without re- 
jecting entirely Mr. Hume's doctrine, proposes another of his own, 
fax more comprehensive ; a doctrine with which he thinks all the 
most celebrated theories of morality invented by his predecessors 
coincide in part, and from some partial view of which he appre- 
hends that they nave all proceeded. 

Of this very ingenious and original theory, I riiall endeavour 
to ffive a short abstract. To those who are familiarly acquainted 
with it as it is stated by its author, I am aware that the attempt 
may appear superfluous ; but I flatter myself that it will not be 
wholly useless to such as have not been much conversant in 
these abstract disquisitions, by presenting to them the leading 
principles of the system in one connected view, without those in- 
terruptions of the attention which necessarily arise from the 
author's various and happy illustrations, and from the many elo- 
quent digressions which animate and adorn his composition. 

The fundamental principle of Mr. Smith's theory is, that the 
primary objects of our moral perceptions are the actions of other 
men ; and that our moral judgments with respect to our own 
conduct are only applications to ourselves of decisions which we 
have already passed on the conduct of our neighbour. His work 
sccoidingly includes two distinct inquiries, which, although some- 
times blended together in the execution of his general design, it 
is necessary for the reader to discriminate carefully from each 
other, in order to comprehend all the difierent bearings of the 
argument. The aim of the former inquiry is, to explain in 
what manner we learn to judge of the conduct of our neigh- 
bour ; that of the latter, to show how, bv applying these judg- 
ments to ourselves, we acquire a sense of dtUt/y and a feeling of its 
paramount authority over all our other principles of action. 

Our moral judgments, both with respect to our own conduct 
and that of others, include two distinct perceptions : firstf A per- 
oeption of conduct as right or wrong ; wndySecondli/j A perception 
of the merit or demerit of the agent. To that quality of conduct 


'^tmmm^mmmmmimmm^mmmm^mmm^m^^'mmm^^ 


KXii ACCOUITT. or the IdFE AND WBITIirOS 

which moralists, in general, express bj the word Rectitude, Mr. 
^mith gives the name of Propriety; and he begins his theory 
with inquiring in what it consists, and how we are led to form 
the idea of it. The leading principles of his doctrine on this sub* 
ject are comprehended in the following propositions :— 

1. It is from our oWn experience aloue, that we can form any 
idea of what passes in the mind of another person on any parti-* 
cular occasion ; and the only way in which we can form this 
idea, is by supposing ourselves in the same circumstances with 
him, and conceiving how we should be affected if we were so 
situated. It is impossible for us, however, to conceive ourselves 
placed in any situation, whether agreeable or otherwise, without 
feeling an effect of the same kind with what would be produced 
by the situation itself ; and consequently the attention we give 
at any time to the circumstances of our neighbour, must affect us 
somewhat in the same manner, although by no means in the 
same degree, as if these circumstances were our own. 

That this imaginary change of situation, is the real source 
of the interest we take in their fortunes, Mr. Smith attempts 
to prove by various instances. " When we see a stroke aimed^ 
and just ready to fall upon the leg or arm of another person, 
we naturally shrink and draw back our own leg or our own 
arm ; and when it does fall, we feel it in some measure, and are 
hurt by it as well as the sufferer. The mob, when they are gazing 
at a dancer on the slack-rope, naturally writhe and twist and 
balance their own bodies, as they see him do, and as they feel 
that they themselves must do if in his situation.'' The same 
thing takes place, according to Mr. Smith, in every case in which 
our attention is turned to the condition of our neighbour. What- 
ever is the passion which arises from any object in the person 
principally concerned, an analogous emotion springs up, at the 
thought of his situation, in the breast of every attentive spectator. 
In every passion of which the mind of man is susceptible, the 
emotions of the bystander always correspond to what, by bringing 
the case home to himself, he imagines should be the sentiments of 
the sufferer. ^ 

To this principle of our nature which leads us to enter into the 
situations of other men, and to partake with them in the passions 
which these situations have a tendency to excite, Mr. Smith gives 
the name of symjxiJthy or fellow-feding, which two wordS he 
employs as synonymous. He acknowledges that, upon some occa- 
sions, sympathy arises merely from the view of a certain emotion in 
another person ; but that in general it arises, not so much from the 
view of the emotion, as from that of the situation which excites it. 

2. A sympathy or fellow-feeling between different persons is 
always agreeable to both. When I am in a situation which ex- 


or ADAX SHITHj LL.D, ZXUi 

• 

dies any passion, it is pleasant to me to know, that the spectator! 
of my situation enter with me into all its various circumstanoet, 
and are affected with them in the same manner as I am myself 
On the other hand, it is pleasant to the spectator to observe this 
correspondence of his emotions with mine. 

3. When the spectator of another man's situation, upon 
bringing home to himself all* its various circumstances, feels 
himself affected in the same manner with the person principally 
Concerned, he approves of the affection or jpassion of this person 
as just and proper, and suitable to its object. The exceptions 
which occur to this observation are, according to Mr. Smith, only 
apparent. ** A stranger, for example, passes by us in the street 
with all the marks of the deepest affliction : and we are imme- 
diately told, that he has just received the news of the death of 
his father. It is impossible that, in this case, we should not ap- 
prove of his grief ; yet it may often happen, without any defect 
of humanity on our part, that, so far from entering into the vio- 
lence of his sorrow, we should scarce conceive the first movements 
of concern upon his account. We have learned, however, from 
experience, that such a misfortune naturally excites such a degree 
of sorrow ; and we know, that if we took time to examine his 
situation fully, and in all its parts, we should, without doubt, most 
sincerely sympathise with him. It is upon the consciousness of 
this conditional sympathy that our approbation of his sorrow is 
founded, even in those cases in which that sympathy does not 
actually take place ; and the general rules derived from our pre- 
ceding experience of what our seutiments would commonly cor- 
respond with, correct upon this, as upon many other occasions^ 
the impropriety of our present emotions." 

By the propriety therefore of any affection or passion exhibited 
by another person, is to be understood its suitableness to the 
object which excites it. Of this suitableness I can judge only 
from the coincidence of the affection with that which I feel, 
when I conceive myself in the same circumstances ; and the per- 
ception of this coincidence is the foundation of the sentiment of 
moral approbation, 

4. Altnough, when we attend to the situation of another per- 
son, and conceive ourselves to be placed in his circumstances, an 
emotion of the same kind with that which he feels naturally 
arises in our own mind, yet this sympathetic emotion bears .but a 
very small proportion, in point of degree, to what is felt by the 
person principally concerned. In order, therefore, to obtain the 
pleasure of mutual sympathy, nature teaches the spectator to 
strive, as much as he can, to raise his emotion to a level with 
that which the object would really produce : and, on the other 
lumd, she teaches tiie person whose passion this object has ex- 


XZIV AOOOXTNT OF THB UFB AND W&ITINGS 

died, to bring it down, as much as he can, to a level with that of 
the spectator. 

6. Upon these two different efforts are foanded two different 
acts of virtues. Upon the effort of the spectator to enter into 
the situation of the person principally concerned, and to raise his 
sympathetio emotions to a level with the emotions of the actor, 
are founded the gentle, the amiable virtues ; the virtues of candia 
oondescension and indulgent humanity. Upon the effort of the 
person principally concerned to lower his own emotions, so as to 
correspond as nearly as possible with those of the spectator, are 
founded the great, the awful, and respectable virtues ; the virtues 
of self-denial, of self-government, of that command of the pas- 
sions, which subjects all the movements of our nature to what 
our own dignity and honour, and the propriety of our own con^ 
duct, require. 

As a farther illustration of the foregoing doctrine, Mr. Smith 
oonsiders particularly the degrees of the different passions which 
are consistent with propriety, and endeavours to show, that^ 
in every case, it is decent or indecent to express a passion 
strongly, according as mankind are disposed, or not disposed, to 
Sjrmpathize with it. It is unbecoming, for example, to express 
strongly any of those passions which arise from a certain con* 
dition of the body ; because other men, who are not in the same 
condition, cannot be expected to sympathize with them. It is 
tmbecoming to cry out with bodily pain ; because the sympathy 
felt by the spectator bears no proportion to the acuteness of what 
is felt by the sufferer. The case is somewhat similar with j^hose 
passions which take their origin from a particular turn or habit 
of the imagination. 

In the case of the unsocial passions of hatred and resentment, 
the sympathy of the spectator is divided between the person who 
feels the passion, and the person who is the object of it. ** We 
are concerned for both, and our fear for what the one may suffer 
damps our resentment for what the other has suffered.^' Hence 
the imperfect degree in which we sympathise with such passions ; 
and the propriety, when we are under their influence, of mode- . 
rating their expression to a much greater degree than is required 
in the case of any other emotions. 

The reverse of this takes place with respect to all the social ,, 
and benevolent affections. The sympathy of the spectator with. ^ 
the person who feels them, coincides with his concern for the 
person who is the object of them. It is this redoubled sym- 
pathy which renders these affections so peculiarly becoming and 
agreeable. 

The selfish emotions of grief and joy, when they are conceived 
<KQ account of our own private good or bad fortune, hold a sort of 


OF AI>AH SMITH, LL.!). XZT 

micldle place between onr social and our ansocial passions. They 
are never so graceful as the one set, nor so odious as the other. 
Even when excessive, they are never so disagreeable as excessive 
resentment ; because no opposite sympathy can ever interest us 
against them : and when most suitable to their objects, they are 
never so agreeable as impartial humanity and just benevolence ; 
because no double sympathy can ever interest us for them. 

After these general speculations concerning the propriety of 
actions, Mr. Smith examines how far the judgments of mankind 
concerning it are liable to be influenced, in particular cases, by 
the prosperous or the adverse circumstances of the agent. The 
scope of his reasoning on this subject is directed to show (in oppo- 
sition to the common opinion), that when there is no envy in the 
case, our propensity to sympathise with joy is much stronger than 
our propensity to sympathise with sorrow ; and, of consequence, 
that it is more easy to obtain the approbation of mankind in 
prosperity than in adversity. From the same principle he traces 
the origin of ambition, or of the desire of rank and pre-eminence ; 
the great object of which passion is, to attain that situation 
which sets a man most in the view of general sympathy and 
attention, and gives him an easy empire over the affections of 
others. 

Having finished the analysis of our sense of propriety and of im- 

Propriety, Mr. Smith proceeds to consider our sense of merit and 
emerit ; which he thinks has also a reference, in the first 
instance, not to our own characters, but to the characters of our 
neighbours. In explaining the origin of this part of our moral 
constitution, he avails himself of the same principle of sympathy, 
into which he resolves the sentiment of moral approbation. 

The vfOT^ propriety and impropriety, when applied to an affec- 
tion of the miua, are used in tnis theory (as has been already 
observed) to express the suitableness or unsuitableness of the 
afiection to its exciting ccm^e. The words merit and derrverit have 
always a reference (according to Mr. Smith) to the effect \fhi<ih the 
afiection tends to produce. When the tendency of an affection is 
beneficial, the agent appears to us a proper object of reward ; 
when it is hurtful, he appears the proper object of punishment. 

The principles in our nature which most directly prompt us 
to reward and to punish, are gratitude and resentment. To say 
of a person, therefore, that he is deserving of reward or of punish- 
ment, is to say, in other words, that he is a proper object of gra- 
titude or of resentment ; or, which amounts to the same thing, that 
he is to some person or persons the object of a gt'atitude or of a 
resentment, which every reasonable man is ready to adopt and 
syn^>athise with. 

It is, however, very necessary to observe, that we do not 

c 2 


XXYX ACCOUNT or THE LIFB AND WAITINGS 

thoroughly sympathize with the gratitude of one man towards 
another, merely because this other has been the cause of his good 
fortune, unless he has been the cause of it from motives which 
we entirely oppose. Our sense, therefore, of the good desert 
of an action, is a compounded sentimeut, made up of an in- 
direct sympathy with the person to whom the action is bene- 
ficial, and of a direct sympathy with the affections and motives 
of the agent. The same remark applies, miUatis mutandis, to our 
sense of demerit, or of ill-desert. 

From these principles, it is inferred, that the only actions 
which appear to us deserving of reward, are actions of a bene- 
ficial tendency, proceeding from proper motives ; the only actions 
which seem to deserve punishment, are actions of a hurtful 
tendency, proceeding from improper motives. A mere want 
of beneficence exposes to no punishment ; because the mere want 
of beneficence tends to do no real positive eviL A man, on the 
other hand, who is barely innocent, and contents himself with 
observing strictly the laws of justice with respect to others, can 
merit only, that his neighbours^ in their turn, should observe 
religiously the same laws with respect to him. 

These observations lead Mr. Smith to anticipate a little the 
subject of the second great division of his work, by a short inquiry 
into thQ origin of our sense of justice, as applicable to our own c<m- 
dv/A; and also of our sentiments of remorse, and of good desert. 

The origin of our sense of justice, as well as of all our other 
moral sentiments, he accounts for by means of the principle of 
sympathy. When I attend only to the feelings of my own breast, 
my own happiness appears to me of far greater consequence than 
that of all the world besides. But I am conscious, that, in this 
excessive preference, other men cannot possibly sympathize with 
me, and that to them I appear only one of the crowd, in whom they 
are no more iuterested than in any other individual If I wish, 
therefore, to secure their sympathy and approbation (which, ac- 
cording to Mr. Smith, are the objects of the strongest desire of 
my nature), it is necessary for me to regard my happiness, not in 
that light in which it appears to myself,l)ut in that light in which 
it appears to mankind in general. If an unprovoked injury is 
offered to me, I know that society will sympathize with my re- 
sentment ; but if I injure the interests of another, who never 
injured me, merely because they stand in the way of my own, I 
perceive evidently, that society will sympathize with his resent- 
ment, and that I shall become the object of general indignation. 

When, upon any occasion, I am led by the violence of passion 
to overlook these considerations, and in the case of a competition 
of interests, to act according to my own feelings, and not ac- 
^rding to those of impartiS spectators^ I never foil to incur 


or ADAH SMITH, IIuD. 

the panishTnent of remorse. When my passion is gratified, and I 
begin to reflect coolly on my conduct, I can no longer enter into 
the motives from which i^ proceeded ; it appears as improper to 
me as to the rest of the world ; I lament the effects it has pro« 
duced ; I pity the unhappy sufferer whom I have injured ; and I 
feel myself a just object of indignation to mankind. ^'Such/' 
gays Mr. Smith, ^* is tne nature of that sentiment which is pro* 
perly called remorse. It is made up of shame from the sense of 
the impropriety of past conduct ; of grief for the effects of it ; of 
pity for those who suffer by it ; and of the dread and terror of 
punishment from the consciousness of the justly provoked resent-* 
ment of all rational creatures." 

The opposite behaviour of him who, from proper motives, hta 
performed a generous action, inspires, in a similar manner, the 
opposite sentiment of conscious merit, or of deserved reward. 

The foregoing observations contain a general summary of Mr. 
Smith's principles with respect to the origin of our moral senti« 
ments, in so far at least as they relate to the conduct of others. 
He acknowledges, at the same time, that the sentiments of which 
we are conscious, on particular occasions, do not always coincide 
with these principles ; and that they are frequently modified by 
other considerations, very different from the propriety or impro- 
priety of the affections of the agent, and also from the benefi- 
cial or hurtful tendency of these affections. The good or bad 
consequences which accidentally follow from an action, and 
which, as they do not depend on the agent, ought undoubtedly, 
in point of justice, to have no influence on our opinion, either of 
the propriety or the merit of his conduct, scarcely ever fail to 
influence considerably our judgment with respect to both ; br 
leading us to form a good or a bad opinion of the prudence with 
which the action was performed, and by animating our sense of 
the merit or demerit of his design. These facts, however, do not 
furnish any objections which are peculiarly applicable to Mr, 
Smith's theory ; for whatever hypothesis we may adopt with 
respect to the origin of our moral perceptions, all men must ac- 
knowledge, that, in so far as the prosperous or the unprosperous 
event of an action depends on fortune or on accident, it i)ught 
neither to increase nor to diminish our moral approbation or dis- 
approbation of the agent. And accordingly it has, in all ages of 
the world, been the complaint of moralists, that the actual senti- 
ments of mankind should so often be in opposition to this equit- 
able and indisputable maxim. In examining, therefore, this 
irregularity of our moral sentiments, Mr. Smith" is to be con- 
sidered, not as obviating an objection peculiar to his own system, 
but as removing a difficulty which is eaually connected with 
every theory on the subject which has ever been proposed. So far 


XmXL ACCOUNT 01* THE IJFB AND VBITINOS 

as I know, he is the first philosopher yrho has been fully aware of 
the importance of the difficulty, and he has indeed treated it with 
great ability and suecess. The explan9,tion which he gives oi it 
is not warped in the least by any peculiarity in his own scheme ; 
and, I must own, it appears to me to be the most solid and 
valuable improvement he has made in this branch of science. It 
is impossible to give any abstract of it in a sketch oi this kind ; 
ajid therefore I must content myseli with remarking, that it con^ 
sists oi three parts. The first explains the causes oi this irregur 
larity oi sentiment ; the second, the extent oi its influence ; and 
the third, the important purposes to which it is subservient. His 
remarks on the last of these heads are more particularly ingenious 
and pleasing ; as their obi'ect is to show, in opposition to what we 
diould be (usposed at first to apprehend, that when nature im^ 
planted the seeds of this irregularity in the human breast, her. 
leading intention was, to promote the happiness and perfection 
of the species. 

The remaining part oi Mr. Smith's theory is employed in shoW'* 
ing, in what manner our tense of dtUt/ comes to be formed, in 
consequence of an application to ourselves of the judgments w^ 
have previously passed on the conduct of others. 

In entering upon this inquiry, which is undoubtedly the most 
important in the work, and for which the foregoing speculations 
are, according to Mr. Smith's theory, a necessary preparation, h» 
begins with stating the fact concerning our consciousness of merited 
praise or blame ; and it must be owned, that the first aspect of 
the fact, as he himself states it, appears not very favourable to his 
principles. That the great object of a wise and virtuous man ia 
not to act in such a manner as to obtain the actual approbation 
of those around him, but to act so as to render himself the jii8t 
and proper object of their approbation, and that his satisfaction 
with his own conduct depends much more on the consciousness 
of deserving this approbation than irom that of really enjoying it, 
he candidly acknowledges ; but still he insists, that although this 
may seem, at first view, to intimate the existence of some moral 
faculty, which is not Dorrowed from without, our moral senti- 
ment^have always some secret reference, either to what are, or. 
to what upon a certain condition would be, or to what we ima- 
gine ought to be, the sentiments of others ; and that if it wer& 
possible that a human creature could grow up to manhood with- 
out any communication with his own species, he could no more 
think of his own character, or of the propriety or demerit of his 
own sentiments and conduct, than of the beauty or deformity of 
his own face. There is indeed a tribunal within the breast, which 
is the supreme arbiter of all our actions, and which, often mor- 
tifies us amidst the applause, and supports us under the oensuie 


«T APAM BUVSUf LL.D. ZZIX 

of the world; yet still, he oontendg, that if we inquire into the 
origin of its institution, we shall find, that its jurisdiction is, in a 
great measure, derived irom the authority of that very tribunal 
whose decisions it so often and so justly reverses. . 

When we first come into the world, we, ior some time, londly 
pursue the impossible project of gaining the good-will and appro- 
bation of everybody. We soon however find^ that this universal 
approbation is unattainable ; that the most equitable conduct 
must ii'equently thwart the interests or the inohnations of par- 
ticular persons, who will seldom have candour enough to enter 
into the propriety of our motives, or to see that this conduct, 
how disagreeable soever to them, is perfectly suitable to our 
situation. In order to defend ourselves from such partial judg- 
ments, we soon learn to set up in our own minds, a judge between 
ourselves and those we live with. We conceive ourselves as acting 
in the presence of aj)er8on, who has no particular relation, either 
to ourselves^ or to those whose interests are affected by our con- 
duct ; and we study to act in such a manner as to obtain the 
approbation of this supposed impartial spectator. It is only by 
consulting him that we can see whatever relates to ourselves in 
its proper i^pe and dimensions. 

There are two different occasions, on which we examine our 
own conduct, and endeavour to view it in the light in which the 
impartial spectator would view it. First, when we are about to 
act ; and, secondly, after we have acted. In both cases, our views 
are very apt to be partial. 

When we are about to act, the eagerness of passion seldom 
allows us to consider what we are doing with the candour of an 
indifferent person. When the action is over, and the passions 
which prompted it have subsided, although we can undoubtedly 
enter into the sentiments of the indifferent spectator much more 
coolly than before, yet it is so disagreeable to us to think iU of 
ourselves, that we often purposely turn away our view from those 
oircumstances which might render our judgment unfavourable. 
Hence that self-deceit wMch is the source of half the disorders ot 
human life. 

In order to guard ourselves agsinst its delusions, nature leads 
us to form insensibly, by our continual observations upon the 
conduct of others, certain general rules concerning what is fit 
and proper either to be done or avoided. Some of their actions 
shock all our natural sentiments ; and when we observe other 
people affected in the same manner with ourselves, we are con"* 
nrmed in the belief, that our disapprobation was just. We natu^ 
4illy^ therefore, lay it down as a general rule, that all such actions 
are to be avoided, as tending to render us odious, contemptible. [ 
or punishable ; and we endeavour, by habitual reflection ^ to fix this 


XXX ACCOUITT OF. THE Lir£ AlTD WSITIITGS 

general rule in our minds, in order to correct the misrepresenta^ 
tions of self-love, if we should ever be called on to act in similar 
circumstances. The man of furious resentment, if he were to 
listen to the dictates of that passion, would, perhapsj regard the 
death of his enemy as but a small compensation for a trifling 
wrong. But his observations on the conduct of others have 
taught him how horrible such sanguinary revenges are ; and he has 
impressed it on his mind as an invariable rule, to abstain from 
them upon all occasions. This rule preserves its authority with 
him, checks the impetuosity of his passion, and corrects the 
partial views which self-love suggests ; although, if this had been 
the first time in which he considered such an action, he would 
undoubtedly have determined it to be just and proper, and what 
every impartial spectator would approve of. A regard to such 
general rules of morality constitutes, according to Mr. Smith, 
what is properly called the sense of dvtJty. ^ 

I before hinted, that Mr. Smith does not reject entirely from 
his system that principle of vtUity, of which the perception in 
any action or character constitutes, according to JVlr. Hume, the 
sentiment of moral approbation. That no qualities of the mind 
are approved of as virtues, but such as are useful or agreeable, 
either to the person himself or to others, he admits to be a pro- 
position that holds universally : and he also admits, that the 
Soitiment of approbation with which we regard virtue, is ea- 
livened by the perception of this utility, or, as he explains the 
fact, it is enlivened by our sympathy with the happiness of those 
to whom the utility extends : But still he insists, that it is not 
the view of this utility which is either the first or principal 
source of moral approbation. 

To sum up the whole of his doctrine in a few words. ^' When 
we approve of any character or action, the sentiments which we 
feel are derived from four different sources. First, we sympa- 
thize with the motives of the agent ; secondly, we enter into the 
gratitude of those who receive the benefit of his actions ; thirdly, 
we observe that his conduct has been agreeable to the general 
rules by which those two sympathies generally act ; and, lastly, 
when we consider such actions as making a part of a system of 
behaviour which tends to promote the happiness either of the in- 
dividual or of society, they appear to derive a beauty from this 
utility, not unlike that which we ascribe to any well-contrived 
machine.'' These different sentiments, he thinks, exhaust com- 
pletely, in every instance that can be supposed, the compounded 
sentiment of moral approbation. "After deducting," says he, 
"in anv one particular case, all that must be acknowledged to 
proceed from some one or other of these four principles, I should 
be glad to know what remains; and I shall freely allow this 


01* ADAM SMITH, LL.D. XXXl 

overplus to be ascribed to a moral sense, or to any other peculiar 
faculty, provided anybody will ascertain precisely what this 
overplus is." 

Mr, Smith's opinion concerning the nature of virtue, is involved 
in his theory concerning the principle of moral approbation. The 
idea of virtue, he thinks, always implies the idea of propriety, or 
of the suitableness of the affection to the object which excites it ; 
which suitableness, according to him, can be determined in no 
other way than by the sympathy of impartial spectators with the 
motives of the agent. But still he apprehends that this descrip- 
tion of virtue is incomplete ; for although in every virtuous 
action propriety is an essential ingredient — ^it is not always 
the sole ingredient. Beneficent actions have in them another 
quality, by which they appear, not only to deserve appro- 
bation, but recompense, and excite a superior degree of 
esteem, arising fmpi a double sympathy with the motives of 
the agent, and the gratitude of those who are the objects of his 
affection. In this respect beneficence app&ars to him to be dis- 
^guished from the inferior virtues of prudence, vigilance, cir- 
cumspection, temperance, constancy, firmness, which are always 
regarded with approbation, but which confer no merit. This 
distinction, he apprehends, has not been sufficiently attended to 
by moralists ; the principles of some affording no explanation of 
the approbation we bestow on the inferior virtues ; and those of 
others accounting as imperfectly for the peculiar excellency which 
the supreme virtue of beneficence is acknowledged to possess. 

Such are the outlines of Mr. Smith's Theory of Moral Senti- 
ments ; a work which must be allowed by all to be a singular 
effort of invention, ingenuity, and subtilty,* 

It contains a large inixture of important truth and, although the 
author has sometimes been misled by too great a desire of gene- 
ralizing his principles, he has had the merit of directing the 
attention of philosophers to a view of human nature which had 

• According to Dr. Gillies, the learned English translator of "Aristotle's 
Ethics and Politics," the general idea which rans through Mr. Smith's 
Theory, was obviously borrowed from the following passage of Polybius : 
^ From the union of the two sexes, to which all are naturally inclined^ 
ehildren are bom. When any of these, therefore, being arrived at per- 
fect age, instead of yielding suitable returns of gratitude and assistance 
to those by whom they have been bred, on the contrary, attempt to 
injure them by words or actions, it is manifest that those who behold 
the wrong, after having also seen the sufferings and the anxious cares 
that were sustained by the parents in the nourishment and education of 
their children, must be greatly offended and displeased at such proceed- 
ing. For man, who among all the various kinds of animals is alone 
endowed with the faculty of reason, cannot, like the rest, pass over such 


ZZXU ACCOUNT Or TAB LITE ABD WBITIKGS 

formerly in a great measure escaped their notice. Of the great 
proportion of just and sound reasoning which the theory involves^ 
its striking plausibility is a sufficient proof ; for, as the author 
himself has remarked, no system in morals can well gain our 
assent, if it does not border, in some respects, upon the truth* 
** A system of natural philosophy (he observes) may appear very 
plausible, and be for a long time very generally received in the 
world, and yet have no foundation in nature ; but the author 
who should assign as the cause of any natural sentiment, 8om» 
principle which neither had any connection with it, nor resembled 
any other principle which had some connection, would appear 
absurd and ridiculous to the most injudicious and inexperieuced 
reader." The merit, however, of Mr. Smithes performance does 
not rest here. No work, undoubtedly, can be mentioned, ancient 
or modem, which exhibits so complete a view of those facts with 
respect to our moral perceptions, which it is jmie great ol^eot of 

this branch of science to refer to their genena laws ; and^ upon 

« 

actions : but will make reflection on what he sees ; and comparing like- 
wise the fature with the present, will not fail to express his indignation 
at this injurious treatment; to which as he foresees, he may also, at some 
time, be exposed. Thus again, when any one who has been succoured 
by another in the time of danger, instead of showing the like kindness 
to this benefactor, endeavours at any time to destroy or hurt him ; it is 
certain that all men must be shocked by such ingratitude, through sym- 
pathy with the resentment of their neighbour ; and from an apprehen- 
sion also, that the case may be their own. And from hence arises, in 
the mind of every man, a certain notion of the nature and force of duty, 
in which consists both the beginning and the end of justice. In like 
manner, the man who, in defence of others, is seen to throw himself the 
foremost into every danger, and even to sustain the fury of the fiercest 
animals, never fails to obtain the loudest acclamations of applause and 
veneration from all the multitude; while he who shows a different con- 
duct is pursued with censure and reproach. And thus it is, that the 
X)eople begin to discern the nature of things honourable and base, and 
in what consists the difference between them ; and to perceive that 
the former, on account of the advantage that attends them, are to be 
admired and imitated, and the latter to be detested and avoided." 

"The doctrine,*' says Dr. Gillies, *' contained in this passage, is 
expanded by Dr. Smith into a theory of moral sentiments. But he 
departs from his author, in placing the perception of right and wrong, 

in sentiment or feeling, ultimately and simply.— Polybius on the 

contrary, maintains with Aristotle, that these notions arise from reason, 
or intellect, operating on affection or appetite ; or, in other words, thai 
the moral faculty is a compound, and may be resolved into two simpler 
principles of the mind." — v^Gilles's Aristotle, vol. i. pp. 802, 303, second 
edition). 

The only expression I object to in the two preceding sentences, is th* 


or AI>AS SXIfB, LL.D. XUOU 

ihifl account it well deserves the carefal study of all whose 
taste leads them to prosecute similar inquiries. These tacts aie 
indeed frequently expressed in a language which involves the 
author's peculiar theories : But they are always presented in the 
most happy and beautiful lights ; and it is easy for an attentive 
reader, by stripping them ot hypothetical terms, to state them 
to himself with uiat logical precision, which, in such veiy 
difficiodt disquisitions, can alone conduct us with certainty to the 
truth. 

It 18 proper to observe farther, that with the theoretical doc- 
trines of the book, there are everywhere interwoven, with sin- 
gular taste and address, the purest and most elevated maxims 
concerning the practical conduct of life ; and that it abounds 
throughout with interesting and inRtructive delineations of cha- 
racters and manners. A considerable part of it, too, is employed 
in collateral inquiri^ which, upon every hypothesis that can be 
formed concerning the foundation ot morals, are of equal import^ 
ance. Of this kind is the speculation formerly mentioned, wfth 
respect to the influence of fortune on our moral sentiments, and 
another speculation, no less valuable, with respect to the influence 
of custom and fashion on the same part of our constitution. 

phrase his author, which has the appearance of insinuating a charge of 
plagiarism against Mr. Smith ; a charge which, I am confident he did 
not deserve. It exhibits, indeed, an instance of a curious coincidence 
between two philosophers in their views of the same subject ; and as 
such, I have no doubt that Mr. Smith himself would have remarked it, 
had it occurred to his memory, when he was writing his book. Of 
such accidental coincidences between different minds, examples present 
themselves every day to those, who, after having drawn from their inter- 
nal resources all the lights they could supply on a particular question, 
have the curiosity to compare their own conclusions with those of their 
predecessors. And it is extremely worthy of observation, that, in pro- 
portion as any conclusion approaches to the truth, the number of 
previous approximations to it may be reasonably expected to be mul- 
tiplied. 

In the case before us, however, the question about ori|;inality is it 
little or no moment ; for the peculiar merit of Mr. Smith's work does 
not lie in his general principle, but in the skilful use he has made of it to 
give a systematical arrangement to the most important discussions and 
doctrines of Ethics. In this point of view, the Theory of Moral Senti- 
ments may be justly regarded as one of the most original eflbrts of the 
human mind in that branch of science to which it relates ; and even if 
we were to suppose that it was first suggested to the author by a remark 
«f which the world was in possession for two thousand years belore,. 
this very circumstance would only reflect a stronger lustre on the 
novelty of his design, and on the invention and taste displayed in its 
tieeution. 


XXSIV ACCOUNT Or THX LIFB AKP WBITINCtS 

The style in which Mr. Smith has conveyed the fundamental 
principles on which his theory rests, does not seem to me to be 
60 peifectly suited to the subject as that which he employs on 
most other occasions. In communicating ideas which are ex- 
tremely abstract and subtile, and about which it is hardly possible 
to reason correctly, without the scrupulous use of appropriated 
terms, he sometimes presents to us a choice of words, by no means 
strictly synonymous, so as to divert the attention from a precise 
and steady conception of his proposition : and a similar effect is, 
in other instances, produced by that diversity of forms which, in 
the course of his copious and seducing composition, the same truth 
insensibly assumes. When the subject of his work leads him to ad- 
dress the imagination and the heart, the variety and felicity of his 
illustrations ; the richness and fluency of his eloquence ; and the 
skill with which he wins the attention and commands the pas« 
sions of his readers, leave him, among oui; English moralistcf, 
without a rival. 

The Dissertation on the Origin of Languages, which now forma 
a part of the same volume with the Theory of Moral Sentiments, 
was, I believe, first annexed to the second edition of that work. It 
is an essay of great ingenuity, and on which the author himself set 
a high value ; but, in a general review of his publications, it de- 
serves our attention less, on account of the opinions it contains, 
than as a specimen of a particular sort of inquiry, which, so far 
as I know, is entirely of modern origin, and which seems, in a 
peculiar degree, to have interested Mr. Smith's curiosity. Some- 
thing very similar to it may be traced in' all his different works, 
whether moral, politicsll, or literary ; and on all these subjects he 
has exemplified it with the happiest success. 

When, in such a period of society as that in which we live, we 
compare our intellectual acquirements, our opinions^ manners, 
and institutions, with those which prevail among rude tribes, it 
cannot fail to occur to us as an interesting question, by what gra« 
dual steps the transition has been made from the first simple 
efforts of uncultivated nature, to a state of things so wonderfully 
artificial and complicated. Whence has arisen mat systematicsd 
beauty which we admire in the structure of a cultivated language ; 
that analogy which runs through the mixture of languages 
spoken by the most remote and unconnected nations ; and those 
peculiarities by which they are all distinguished from each other ? 
Whence the origin of the different sciences and of the different 
arts ; and by what chain has the mind been led from their first 
rudiments to their last and most refined improvements ? Whence 
the astonishing fabric of the political union: the fundamental 
principles which are common to all governments ; and the differ* 
ent forms which civilized society has assumed in different ages of 


or ADAM SVITH, IX.D, atXXT 

the world ? On most of these subjects very little information is 
to be expected from history ; for long before that stage of society 
when men begin to think of recording their transactions, many of 
the most important steps of their progress have been made. A 
few insalated facts may, perhaps, be collected from the casual ob- 
servations of travellers, who have viewed the arrangements of 
rude nations ; but nothing, it is evident, can be obtained in this 
way, which approaches to a regular and connected detail of 
human improvement. 

In this want of direct evidence, we are under a necessity of 
supplying the place of fact by conjecture ; and when we are 
tinable to ascertain how men have actually conducted themselves 
upon particular occasions, of considering in what manner they 
are likely to have proceeded, from the principles of their nature, 
and the circumstances of their extemsu situation. In such in- 
quiries, the detached facts which travels and voyages afford us, 
may firequently serve as land-marks to our speculations ; and 
sometimes our conclusions, a priori, may tend to confirm the ere- 
dibihty of facts, which^ on a superficial view, appeared to be 
doubtful or incredible. 

Nor are such theoretical views of human afiairs subservient 
merely to the gratification of curiosity. In examining the his- 
tory of mankind, as well as in examining the phenomena of the 
material world, when we cannot trace the process by which an 
event has been produced, it is often of importance to be able to 
show how it niay have been produced by natural causes. Thus, in 
the instance which has suggested these remarks, although it is 
impossible to determine with certainty what the steps were by 
which any particular language was formed, yet if we can show, 
from the known principles of human nature, how all its various 
parts might gradually have arisen, the mind is not only to a cer- 
tain degree satisfied, but a check is given to that indolent philo- 
sophy, which refers to a miracle, whatever appearances, both in 
the natural and moral worlds, it is unable to explain. 

To this species of philosophical investigation, which has no ap" 
propriated name in our language, I shall take the liberty of giving 
the title of Theoretical or Conjectural History; an expression 
which coincides pretty nearly in its meaning with that of Natural 
BUtory^ as employed by Mr. Hume,* and with what some French 
writers have called Histoire Raisonn^e, 

The mathematical sciences, both pure and mixed, afford, in 
J!jany of their branches, very favourable subjects for theoretical 
history ; and a very competent judge, the late M. d'Alembert, 
has recommended that arrangement of their elementary principles/ 


( 


See his Natural History of Religion. 


ZZXTl ACCOUNT OV TBB IJFX AND WBITIITOS 

which ifi founded on the natural succession of inventions and dis- 
coveries, as the hest adapted for interesting the curiosity and 
exercising the genius of students. The same author points out 
as a model a passage in Montucla*s History of Mathematics, 
where an attempt is made to exhibit the gradual progress of phi- 
losophical speculation, from the first conclusions suggested by a 
general survey of the heavens, to the doctrines of Copernicus. It 
IS somewhat remarkable, that a theoretical history of this very 
science (in which we have, perhaps, a better opportunity than in 
any other instance whatever, of comparing the natural advances 
of the mind with the actual succession of hypothetical systems) 
was one of Mr. Smith's earliest compositions, and is one of the 
very small number of his manuscripts which he did not destroy 
before his death. 

I have already hinted, that inquiries perfectly analogous to these 
may be applied to the modes of government, and to the municipal 
Institutions which have obtain^ among different nations* It is 
but lately, however, that these important subjects have been con- 
sidered in this point of view ; the greater part of politicians be* 
fore the time of Montesquieu having contented themselves with 
an historical statement of facts, and with a vague reference of 
laws to the wisdom of particular legislators, or to accidental <nr- 
cumstances, which it is now impossible to ascertain. Mon-> 
tesquieu, on the contrary, considered laws as originating chiefly 
£rom the circumstances of society ; and attempted to account^ 
from the changes in the condition of mankind, which take place 
in the different stages of their progress, for the corresponding 
alterations which their institutions undergo. It is thus that, in 
his occasional elucidations of the Roman jurisprudence, instead 
of bewildering himself among the erudition of scholiasts and of 
antiquaries, we frequently find him borrowing his lights from the 
most remote and unconnected quarters of the globe, and com- 
bining the casual observations of illiterate travellers and* navi- 
gators, into a philosophical commentary on the history of law 
and of manners. 

The advances made in this line of inquiry since Montesquieu's 
time have been great. Lord Kames, in his Historical Law Tracts, 
has given some excellent specimens of it, particularly in his 
Essays on the History of Property and of Criminal I^aw, and 
many ingenious speculations ot the same kind occur in the works 
ofMr.MiUar. 

In Mr. Smith's writings, whatever be the nature of his subject, 
he seldom misses an opportunity of indulging his curiosity, in 
tracing trom the principles of human nature, or from the circum- 
stances of society, the origin of the opinions and the institutions 
which he describes. I formerly mentioned a fragment concerning 


the History of Astronomy which he has left for publication ; and 
I have heard him say more than onoe, that he oad projected, in 
the earlier part of his life, a history of the other sciences on the 
same plan. In his Wealth of Nations, various disquisitions are 
introduced which have a like object in view, particularly the 
theoretical delineation he has ^ven of the natural progress of 
opulence in a country ; and his investigation of the causes which 
have inverted this order in the different countries of modern 
Europe. His lectures on jurisprudence seem, from the account 
of them formerly given, to have abounded in such inquiries. 

I am informed by the same gentleman who favoured me with 
the account of Mr. Smith's lectures at Glasgow, that he had heard 
him sometimes hint an intention of writing a treatise upon the 
Greek and Roman republics. '^ And after all that has been pub- 
lished on that subject, I am convinced (says he) that the obser- 
vations of Mr. Smith would have suggested many new and im- 
portant views concerning the internal and domestic circumstances 
of those nations, which would have displa;|red their several sys- 
tems of policy, in a light much less artificial than that in which 
they have hitherto appeared." 

The same turn of thinking was frequently, in his social hours, 
applied to more familiar subjects; and the fanciful theories 
which, without the least affectation of ingenuity, he waa conti- 
nually starting upon all the common topics of discourse, gave to 
his conversation a novelty and variety that were quite inex- 
haustible. Hence, too, the minuteness and accuracy of his know- 
ledge on many trifliDg articles, which, in the course of his 
speculations, he had been led to consider from some new and 
interesting point of view ; and of which his lively and circum- 
stantial descriptions amused his friends the more, that he seemed 
to be habitually inattentive, in so remarkable a degree, to what 
was passing around him. * 

I have been led into these remarks by the Dissertation on the 
Formation of languages, which exhibits a very beautiful specimen 
of theoretical history, applied to a subject equally curious and 
difficult. The analogy between the train of thinking from which 
it has taken its rise, and that which has suggested a variety of 
his other disquisitions, will, 1 hope, be a sufficient apology for the 
length of this digression ; more particularly, as it will enable me 
to simplify the account which I am to give afterwards, of his in- 
quiries concerning political economy. 

I shall only observe farther on this head, that when different 
theoretical histories are proposed by different writers, of the 
progress of the human mind in any one line of exertion, these 
theories are not always ta be understood as standing in opposition 


ZZXVm ACCOUNT OV VHX LITB AND WBITINOB 

to each other. If the progress delineated in all of them be plati'* 
Bible, it is possible at least, that they may all have been realiz^ ; 
for human affairs never exhibit, in any two instances, a perfect 
uniformity. But whether they have been realized or no, is often 
a question of little consequence. In most cases it is of more im- 
portance to ascertain the progress that is most simple, than the 
progress that is most agreeable to fact ; for, paradoxical as the 
proposition may appear, it is certainly true that the real progress 
IS not always the most natural. It may have been determined 
by particular accidents, which are not likely again to occur, and 
which cannot be considered as forming any part of that general 
provision which nature has made for the improvement of the 
race. 

In order to make some amends for the length (I am afraid I 
may add for the tediousness) of this section, I shall subjoin to it 
an original letter of Mr. Hume's addressed to Mr. Smith, soon 
after the publication of his Theory. It is strongly marked with 
that easy and affectionate pleasantry which distinguished Mr. 
Hume's epistolary correspondence, and is entitled to a place in 
this Memoir, on account of its connection with an important 
event of Mr. Smith's life, which soon after removed him into a 
new scene, and influenced, to a considerable degree, the subse* 
quent course of his studies. The letter is dated from London, 
12th April, 1769. 

" I give you thanks for the agreeable present of your Theory. 
Wedderburn and I made presents of our copies to such of our 
acquaintances as we thought good judges, and proper to spread 
the reputation of the boOk. I sent one to the Duke of Argyll, to 
Lord Lyttleton, Horace Walpole, Soame Jennyns, and Burke, an 
Irish gentleman, who wrote lately a very pretty treatise on the 
Sublime. Millar desired my permission to send one in your 
name to Dr. Warburton. I have delayed writing to you till I 
could tell you something of the success of the book, and could 
prognosticate with some probability, whether it should be finally 
damned to oblivion, or should be registered in the temple of im- 
mortality. Though it has been published only a few weeks, I 
think there appear already such strong symptoms, that I can 

almost venture to foretell its fate. It is in short this . But I 

have been interrupted in my letter by a foolish impertinent visit 
of one who has lately come from Scotland. He tells me that the 
University of Glasgow intend to declare Rouet's office vacant, 
upon his going abroad with Lord Hope. I question not but you 
will have our friend Ferguson in your eye, in case another pro- 
ject for procuring him a place in the Ui:iversity of Edinburgh 
should fail. Ferguson has very much polished and improved hitf 


OF ADAM SMITH, LL.I>. XXSIX 

treatise on Refinement,* and with some amendments it will 
make an admirable book, and discovers an elegant and a singular 
genius. The Epigoniad, I hope, will do ; but it is somewhat up- 
hill work. As I doubt not but you consult the reviews sometimes 
at present, you will see in the Critical Review a letter upon that 
poem ; and I desire you to employ your conjectures in finding out 
the author. Let me see a sample of your skill in knowing hands 
by your guessing at the person. I am afraid of Lord Kames's 
Iaw Tracts. A man might as well think of making a fine sauce by 
a mixture of wormwood and aloes, as an agreeable composition by 
joining metaphysics and Scotch law. However, the book, I be- 
lieve^ has merit ; though few people will take the pains of diving 
into it. But to return to your book, and its success in this town, 

I must tell you . A plague of interruptions ! I ordered myself 

to be denied ; and yet here is one that has broke in upon me again. 
He is a man of letters, and we have had a good deal of literary 
conversation. You told me that you was curious of literary anec*- 
dotes, and therefore I shall inform you of a few that have come 
to my knowledge, I believe I have mentioned to you already 
Helvetius*s book de V Esprit It is worth your reading, not tor its 
philosophy, which I do not highly value, but for its agreeable 
composition. I had a letter from him a few days ago, wherein he 
tells me that my name was much oftener in the manuscript, but 
that the Censor of books at Paris obliged him to strike it out. 
Voltaire has lately published a small work called Candide, ou 

VOptimisme. I shall give you a detail of it . But what is all 

this to my book 1 say you. — My dear Mr. Smith have patience : 
Compose yourself to tranquillity : Show yourself a philosopher in 
practice as well as profession : Think on the emptiness, and rash- 
ness, and futility of the common judgments of men : How little 
they are regulated by reason in any subject, much more in philo- 
sophical subjects, which so far exceed the comprehension of the 
vulgar. 

Non si quid turbida Roma, 

Elevet, accedas : examenve improbum in ilia 
Castiges trutina : nee te quaesiveris extra. 

A wise man's kingdom is his own breast ; or, if he ever looks 
farther, it will only be to the judgment of a select few, who are free 
from prejudices, and capable of examining his work. Nothing, 
indeed, can be a stronger presumption of falsehood than the ap- 
probation of the multitude ; and Phocion, you know, always sus- 
pected himself of some blunder when he was attended with the 
applauses of the populace. 

* Published afterwards under the title of " An Essay on the History 
of CivU Society." 

d 


Xl ACCOUNT OF THB LIFB ARJ) WRITINGS 

" Supposing, therefore, that you have duly prepared yourself 
for the worst by all these reflections, I proceed to tell you the 
melancholy news, that your book has been very unibrtunate ; for 
the public seem disposed to applaud it extremely. It was looked 
for by the foolish people with some impatience ; and the mob of 
literati are beginning already to be very loud in its praises. Three 
Bishops called yesterday at Millar's shop in order to buy copies, and 
to ask questions about the author. The Bishop of Peterborough said 
he had passed the evening in a company where he heard it ex- 
tolled above aU books in the world. The Duke oi Argyll is more 
decisive than he uses to be in its favour. I suppose he either 
considers it as an exotic, or thinks the author will be serviceable 
to him in the Glasgow elections. Lord Lyttleton says, that Ro- 
bertson and Smith and Bower are the glories of EngUsh litera- 
ture. Oswald protests he does not know whether he has reaped 
more instruction or entertainment from it. But you may easily 
judge what reliance can be put on his judgment who has been 
engaged all his life in public business, and who never sees any 
fEiults in his friends. Millar exults and brags that two-thirds dT 
the edition are already sold, and that he is now sure of success. 
You see what a son of the earth that is, to value books only by 
the profit they bring him. In that view, I believe, it may prove 
a very good book. 

*' Charles Townsend, who passes for the cleverest fellow in Eng^ 
land, is so taken with the performance, that he said to Oswald 
he would put the Duke of Buccleuch under the author's care, and 
would make it worth his while to accept of that charge. As soon as 
I heard this I called on him twice, with a view of talking with him 
about the matter, and of convincing him of the propriety of send- 
ing that young Nobleman to Glasgow : For I could not hope that 
he could oiFer you any terms which would tempt you to renounce 
your Professorship. But I missed him. Mr. Townsend passes 
for being a little uncertain in his resolutions : so perhaps you 
need not build much on this sally. 

" In recompense for so many mortifying things, which nothing 
but truth could have extorted from me, and which I could easily have 
multiplied to a greater number, I doubt not but you are so good a 
Christian as to return good for evil ; and to flatter my vanity by 
telling me that all the godly in Scotland abuse me for my account 
of John Knox and the Reformation. I suppose you are glad to 
see my paper end, and that 1 am obli^^ed to conchide with 

Your humble servant, 

David Hums.'* 


OF ADAK SMITH, U.JK lii 

F&OM THS Publication or Thb Theory of Mobal SENTiMiNTft, 

TILL THAT OF ThE WeALTH OF NATIONS. 

After the publication of ihe Theory of Moral Sentiments, 
Mr. Smith remained lour years at Glasgow, discharging his 
official duties with unabated vigour, and w^th increasing repu- 
tation. During that time the plan of his lectures underwent a 
considerable chanR:e. His ethical doctrines, of which he had now 
published so valuable a part, occupied a much smaller portion of 
the course than formerly ; and accordingly, his attention was natu- 
rally directed to a more complete illustration of the principles of 
jurisprudence and of political economy. 

To this last subject his thoughts appear to haVe been occa- 
sionally turned from a very early period of life. It is probable 
that the uninterrupted friendship he had always maintained with 
his old companion Mr. Oswald, had some tendency to encourage 
him in prosecuting this branch of his studies ; and the publica- 
tion of Mr. Hume's political discourses, in the year 1752, could 
not faU to confirm him in those liberal views of commercial 
policy which had already opened to him in the course of his own 
inquiries. His long residence in one of the most enlightened mercan- 
tile towns in this island, and the habits of intimacy in which he 
lived with the most respectable of its inhabitants, afforded him an 
opportunity of deriving what commercial information he stood in 
need of, from the best sources ; and it is a circumstance no le^s 
honourable to their liberality than to his talents, that notwith- 
standing the reluctance so common among men of business to 
listen to the conclusions of mere speculation, and the direct op- 

Eosition of his leading principles to all the old maxims of jtrade, 
e was able, before he quitted his situation in the university, to 
rank some very eminent merchants in the number of his pro- 
selytes.* 

Among the students who attended his lectures, and whose 
minds were not previously warped by prejudice, the progress of 
his opinions, it may be reasonably supposed, was much more 
rapid. It was this class of his friends accordingly that first 
adopted his system with eagerness, and diffused a knowledge of 
its fundamental principles ovtr this part of the kingdom. 

Towards the end of 1763 Mr. Smith received an invitation 
from Mr. Charles Townsend to accompany the Duke of Buccleuoh 
on his travels ; and the liberal terms in which the proposal was 
made to him, added to the strong desire he had felt of visiting 

* I mention this fact on the respectable authority of James Bitchitt, 
ISsq., of Glasgow. 

d2 


Zlii ACOOUNT OF THE LIFE AND WBITINQS 

the Continent of Europe, induced him to resign his office at 
Glasgow. With the connection which he was led to form in 
consequence of this change in his situation, he had reason to be 
satisfied in an uncommon degree, and he always spoke of it with 
pleasure and gratitude. To the public it was not, perhaps, a 
change equally fortunate ; as it interrupted that studious leisure 
for which nature seems to have destined him, and in which alone 
he could have hoped to accomplish those literary projects which 
had flattered the ambition of his youthful genius. 

The alteration, however, which, from this period, took place in 
his habits, was not without its advantages. He had hitherto 
lived chiefly within the walls of an university ; and although to a 
mind like his, the observation of human nature on the smallest 
scale is sufficient to convey a tolerably just conception of what 
passes on the great theatre of the world, yet it is not to be 
doubted, that the variety of scenes through which he afterwards 
passed, must have enriched his mind with many new ideas, and 
corrected many of those misapprehensvns of life and manners 
which the best descriptions of them can scarcely fail to convey. 
But whatever were the lights that his travels afforded to him as 
a student of human nature, they were probably useful in a still 
greater degree, in enabling him to perfect that system of political 
economy, of which he had already delivered the principles in his 
lectures at Glasgow, and which it was now the leading object of 
his studies to prepare for the public. The coincidence between 
some of these principles and the distinguishing tenets of the 
French economists, who were at that very time in the height of 
their reputation, and the intimacy in which he lived with some 
of the leaders of that sect, could not fail to assist him in metho- 
dizing and digesting his speculations ; while the valuable collec- 
tion of facts, accumulated by the zealous industry of their 
numerous adherents, furnished him with ample materials for 
illustrating and confirming his theoretical conclusions. 

After leaving Glasgow, Mr. Smith joined the Duke of Buccleuch 
at London early in the year 1764, and set out with him for the 
Continent in the month of March following. At Dover they were 
met by Sir James Macdonald, who accompanied them to Paris, 
and with whom Mr. Smith laid the foundation of a friend- 
ship, which he always mentioned with pleasure, and of which 
he often lamented the short duration. The panegjrrics with 
which the memory of this accomplished and amiable person has 
been honoured by so many distinguished characters in the dif- 
ferent countries of Europe, are a proof how well fitted his talents 
were to command general admiration. The esteem in which his 
abilities and learning were held by Mr. Smith, is a testimony to 
his extraordinary merit of still superior value. Mr. Hume, too, 


Mil 


OF ADAH SMITH, LL.P. XilU 

seems, in this instai)pe, to have partaken of his friend's enthu- 
siasm. " Were you and I together (says he in a letter to Mr. 
Smith), we should shed tears at present for the death of poor Sir 
James Macdonald. We could not possibly have su&ered a greater 
loss than in that valuable young man/' 

In this first visit to Paris the Duke of Buccleuch and Mr. 
Smith employed only ten or twelve days,* after which they pro- 
ceeded to Toulouse, where they fixed their residence for eighteen 
months ; and where, in addition to the pleasure ot an agreeable 
society, Mr. Smith had an opportunity of correcting and extend- 
ing his information concerning the internal policy oi France, by 
the intimacy in which he lived with some of the principal persons 
of the Parliament. 

From Toulouse they went, by a pretty extensive tour, through 
the south of France to Geneva. Here they passed two months. 
The late Earl oi Stanhope, for whose learning and worth Mr. 
Smith entertained a sincere respect, was then an inhabitant of 
that republic. 

About Christmas 1765 they returned to Paris, and remained 
there till October following. The society in which Mr. Smith 

* The day after his arrival at Paris, Mr. Smith sent a formal resigna- 
tion of his Professorship to the Rector of the University of Glasgow. 
*' I never was more anxious," says he in the conclusion of this letter, 
"for the good of the College, than at this moment; and I sincerely 
wish, that whoever is my successor may not only do credit to the office 
by his abilities, but be a comfort to the very excellent men with whom 
he is likely to spend his life, by the probity of his heart, and the good- 
ness of his temper." 

The following extract from the records of the University, which fol- 
lows immediately after Mr. Smith's letter of resignation, is at once a 
testimony to his assiduity as a Professor, and a proof of the just sense 
which that learned body entertained of the talents and worth of the col- 
league they had lost : 

" The meeting accept of Dr. Smith's resignation, in terms of the 
above letter, and the office of Professor of Moral Philosophy in this 
University is therefore hereby declared vacant. The University, at the 
same time, cannot help expressing their sincere regret at the removal of 
Dr. Smith, whose distinguished probity and amiable qualities procured 
him the esteem and affection of his colleagues; and whose uncommon 
genius, great abilities, and extensive learning, did so much honour to 
this society; his elegant and ingenious Theory of Moral Sentiments 
having recommended him to the esteem of men of taste and litera- 
ture throughout Europe. His happy talent in illustrating abstracted 
Babjects, and faithful assiduity in communicating useful knowledge, 
disiinguished him as a Professor, and at once lUforded the greatest 
pleasure and the most important instruction to the youth under his 

CMC" 


xBt account or thb life ahb waitings 

spent these ten months, may be conceived from the advantages 
he enjoyed, in consequence of the recommendations of Mr. Hume. 
Target, Quesnai, Necker, d^Alembert, Helvetius, Marmontel, 
I^dame Riccoboni, were among the number of his acquaintances ; 
and some of them he continued eve^ afterwards to reckon among 
his friends. From Madame d'Auville, the respectable mother of 
the late excelleot and much lamented Duke of Rochefoucauld, 
he received many attentions, which he always recollected with 
particular gratitude. 

It is much to be regretted that he preserved no journal of this 
very interesting period of his history : and such was his aversion 
to write letters, that I scarcely suppose any memorial of it exists 
in his correspondence with his friends. The extent and accuracy 
of his memory, in which he was equalled by few, made- it of little 
consequence to himself to record in writing what he heard or 
saw ; and from his anxiety before his death to destroy all the 
papers in his possession, he seems to have wished that no mate- 
rials should remain for his biographers, but what were furnished 
by the lasting monuments of his genius, and the exemplary worth 
of his private life. 

The satisfaction he enjoyed in the conversation of Turgot may 
be easily imagined. Their opinions on the most essential points 
of political economy were the same ; and they were both ani- 
mated by the same zeal for the best interests of mankind. The 
favourite studies, too, of both, had directed their inquiries to sub- 
jects on which the understandings of the ablest and the best 
informed are Lable to be warped, to a great degree, by prejudice 
and passion ; and on which, of consequence, a coincidence of 
judgment is peculiarly gratifying. We are told by one of the 
biographers of Turgot, that after his retreat from the ministry, 
he occupied his leisure in a philosophical correspondence with 
some of his old friends ; and, in particular, that various letters 
on important subjects passed between him and Mr. Smith. I 
take notice of this anecdote chiefly as a proof of the intimacy 
which was understood to have subsisted between them ; for in 
other respects, the anecdote seems to me to be somewhat doubtful. 
It is scarcely to be supposed that Mr. Smith would destroy the 
letters of such a correspondent as Turgot ; and still less probable, 
that such an intercourse was carried on between them without 
the knowledge of any of Mr. Smith's friends. From some in- 
quiries that have been made at Paris by a gentleman of this 
Society since Mr. Smith's death, I have reason to believe, that no 
evidence of the correspondence exists among the papers of 
M. Turgot, and that the whole story has taken its rise from a 
report suggested by the knowletlge of their former intimacy. 
This circumstance 1 think it of importance to mention, because a 


OF A3>AX. BXITH, LL.I>. zlv 

good deal of curiosity has been excited br the passage in ques- 
tion, with respect to the fate of the supposed letters. 

Mr. Smith was also well known to M. Quesnai, the profound 
and original author of the Economical Table ; a man (according 
to Mr. Smith's account of him) " of the greatest modesty and 
simplicity ;" and whose Sjrstem of political economy he has pro- 
nounced '* with all its imperfections/' to be '* the nearest approxi- 
mation to the truth that has yet been published on the principles of 
that very important science." If he had not been prevented by 
Quesnai's death, Mr. Smith had once an intention (as he told me 
himself) to have inscribed to him his '^ Wealth of Nations." 

It was notj however, merely the distinguished men who about 
1^ period fixed so splendid an era in the literary history of 
France, that excited Mr. Smith's curiosity while he remained in 
Paris. His acquaintance with the polite literature, both of 
ancient and modem times, was extensive ; and amidst his 
various other occupations, he had never neglected to cultivate a 
taste for the fine arts ; — less, it is probable, with a view to the 
peculiar enjoyments they convey (though he was by no means 
without sensibility to their beauties), than on account of their 
connection with the general principles of the human mind ; to 
an examination of which they afford the most pleasing of all 
avenues. To those who speculate on this very delicate subject, a 
comparison of the modes of taste that prevail among dinerent 
nations, affords a valuable collection of facts ; and Mr. Smith, who 
was always disposed to ascribe to custom and fashion their full 
share in regulating the opinions of mankind with respect to 
beauty, may naturally be supposed to have availed himself of 
every opportunity which a foreign country afforded him of illus- 
trating his former theories. 

Some of his peculiar notions, too, with respect to the imitative 
arts, seem to have been much confirmed by his observations 
while abroad. In accounting for the pleasure we receive from 
these arts, it had early occurred to him as a fundamental prin- 
ciple, that a very great part of it arises from the difficulty of the 
itniitation ; a principle which was probably suggested to him by 
that of the difficulU surmont^^ by which some French critics had 
attempted to explain the effect of versification and of rhyme.* This 
principle Mr. Smith pushed to the greatest possible length, and 
referred to it, with singular ingenuity, a great variety of pheno- 
mena in all the different fine arts. It led him, however, to some 
conclusions, which appear, at first view at least, not a little para- 
doxical ; and I cannot help thinking that it warped his judgment 
in many of the opinions which he was accustomed to give on the 
subject of poetry. 

♦ See the Preface to Voltaire's Oedipe, edit, of 1729. 


Zlvi ACCOUNT OF THE UFB AND WRITINGS 

The principles of dramatic composition had more particularly 
attracted his attention ; and the history oi the theatre, both ia 
ancient and modern times, had furnished him with some of the 
most remarkable facts on which his theory of the imitative arts- 
was founded. From this theory it seemed to follow as a conse- 
quence, that the same circumstances which, in tragedy, give ta 
blank verse an advantage over prose, should give to rhyme an 
advantage over blank verse ; and Mr. Smith had always inclined 
to that opinion. Nay, he had gone so iar as to extend the same 
doctrine to comedy ; and to regret that those excellent pic- 
tures of life and manners whicl\ the English stage aftords, had not 
been executed after the model of the French school. The admi- 
ration with which he regarded the great dramatic authors of 
France tended to confirm him in these opinions ; and this admi- 
ration (resulting originally from the general character of his 
taste, which delighted more to remark that pliancy of genius 
which accommodates itself to established rules, than to wonder 
&t the bolder flights of an undisciplined imagination} was in- 
creased to a great degree, when he saw the beauties that had 
struck him in the study, heightened by the utmost periection of 
theatrical exhibition. In the last years of his life he sometimes 
amused himself, at a leisure hour, in supporting his theo- 
retical conclusions on these subjects, by the facts which his 
subsequent studies and observations had suggested : and he in- 
tended, if he had lived, to have prepared the result of these 
labours for the press. Of this work he has left for publication a 
short fragment ; but he had not proceeded far enough -to apply 
his doctrine to versification and to the theatre. As his notions, 
however, with respect to these were a favourite topic of his con- 
versation, and were intimately connected with his general prin- 
ciples of criticism, it would have been improper to pass them over 
in this sketch of his life ; and I have even thought it proper to de- 
tail them at greater length than the comparative importance oi the 
subject would have justified, if he had carried his plans into exe- 
cution. Whether his love of system, added to his partiality for 
the French drama, may not have led him, in this instance, to 
generalize a little too much his conclusions, and to overlook some 
peculiarities in the language and versification of that country, I 
shall not take upon me to determine. 

In October, 1766, the Duke of Buccleuch returned to London. 
His Grace, to whom I am indebted for several particulars in the 
foregoing narrative, will, I hope, forgive the liberty 1 take in 
transcribing one paragraph in his own words : " In October, 1766, 
we returned to London, after having spent near three years 
together, without the sliirhtest disagreement or coolness ; — on my 
part, with every advantage that could be expected iiom the 


OF ADAH SMITH, LL.P. zlvll 

society of such a man. We continued to live in friendship till 
the hour ot his death ; and I shall always remain with the im- 
pression of having lost a friend w4iom I loved and respected, not 
only for his great talents, but for every private virtue." 

The retirement in which Mr. Smith passed his next ten years, 
formed a striking contrast to the unsettled mode of life he had 
been for some time accustomed to, but which was so congenial to 
his natural disposition, and to his first habits, that it was with the 
utmost difficulty he was ever persuaded to leave it. During th& 
whole of this period (with the exception of a few visits to Edin- 
burgh and London), he remained with his mother at Kirkaldy ; occu* 
pied habitually in intense study, but unbending his mind at times 
m the company of some of Ms old school-fellows, whose " sober 
wishes'* had attached them to the place of their birth. In the 
society of such men Mr. Smith delighted ; and to them he was 
endeared, not only by his simple and unassuming manners, but 
by the perfect knowledge they all possessed of those domestic 
virtues which had distinguished him from his in&ncy. 

Mr. Hume, who (as he tells us himself) considered " a town as 
the true scene for a man of letters," made many attempts to 
seduce him from his retirement. In a letter, dated in 1772, he 
urges him to pass some time with him in Edinburgh. " I shall 
not take any excuse from your state of health, which I suppose 
only a subterfuge invented by indolence and love of solitude. 
Indeed, my dear Smith, if you continue to hearken to complaints 
of this nature, you. will cut yourself out entirely from human 
society, to' the great loss of both parties." In another letter, 
dated in 1769, from his house in James's Court (which com- 
manded a prospect of the Frith of Forth, and of the opposite 
coast of Fife), " I am glad (says he) to have come within sight of 
you ; but as I would also be within speaking terms of you, I wish 
we could concert measures for that purpose. I am mortally sick at 
sea, and regard with horror and a kind of hydrophobia the great 
gulf that lies between us. I am also tired of travelling, as much 
as you ought naturally to be of staying at home. I therefore 
propose to you to come hither, and pass some days with me in 
this solitude. I want to know what you have been doing, and 
propose to exact a rigorous account of the method in which you 
nave employed yourself during your retreat. I am positive you 
are in the wrong in many of your speculations, especially where you 
have the misfortune to differ from me. All these are reasons for 
our meeting, and I wish you would make me some reasonable 
proposal for that purpose. There is no habitation in the island 
of Inchkeith, otherwise I should challenge you to meet me on 
that spot, and neither of us ever to leave the place till we were 
fully agreed on all points of controversy. I expect General Con- 
way here to-morrow^ whom I shall attend to Roseueath, and I 


Xlviii ACCOUNT OF THE LIFE AHD WBITIKGS 

ahall remain there a few days. On my return I hope to find a 
letter from you, containing a bold acceptance of this defiance." 

At length (in the beginning of the year 1 776) Mr. Smith accounted 
to the world for his long retreat, by the pubUcation of his "Inquiry 
into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations." A letter 
of congratulation on this event, from Mr. Hume, is now before me. 
It is dated Ist April, 1776 (about six months before Mr. Hume's 
death), and discovers an amiable solicitude about his friend's lite- 
rary fame. ^^ Ewje! Bdlel Dear Mr. Smith : I am much pleased 
with your performance, and the perusal of it has taken me from 
a state of great anxiety. It was a work of so much expectation, 
by yourself^ by your friends, and by the public, that I trembled 
for its appearance ; but am now much relieved. Not but that 
^e reading of it necessarily requires so much attention, and the 
public is disposed to give so little, that I shall still doubt for some 
time of its being at first very popular. But it has depth and 
solidity and acuteness, and is so much illustrated by curious facts, 
that it must at last take the public attention. It is probably 
much improved by your last abode in London. If you were here 
at my fire-side I should dispute some of your principles. 
But these, and a hundred other points, are fit only to be discussed 
in conversation. I hope it will oe soon ; for I am in a very bad 
state of health, and cannot afford a long delay." 

Of a book which is now so universally known as " The Wealth 
of Nations," it might be considered perhaps as superfluous to 
give a particular analysis ; and, at any rate, the limits of this 
ossay make it impossible for me to attempt it at present. A few 
remarks, however, on the object and tendency of the work, may, 
I hope, be introduced without impropriety. The history of a phi- 
losopher's life can contain little more than the history of his spe- 
culations ; and in the case of such an author as Mr. Smith, whose 
studies were systematically directed from his youth to subjects of 
the highest importance to hum an happiness, a review of his writings, 
while it serves to illustrate the peculiarities of his genius, affords 
the most faithful picture of his character as a man. 


Of the Inquiry into the Natube and Causes of the 

Wealth of Nations.* 

An historical view of the different forms under which human 
affairs have appeared in different ages and nations, naturally 
suggests the question. Whether the experience of former times 
may not now furnish some general principles to enlighten and 

* At the period when this memoir was read before the Royal Society 
^f Edinburgh, it was not unusual, even among men of some talents and 


or ADAM SMITH, LLJ>. xlix 

direct the policy of future legislators ? The discussion, however, 
to which this question leads, is ot singular difficulty : as it re- 
quires an accurate analysis ot hy iar the most complicated class 
of phenomena that can possibly engage our attention, those which 
result from the intricate and often imperceptible mechanism 
of political society ; — a subject of observation which seems, at 
first view, so little commensurate to our faculties, that it has been 
generally regarded with the same passive emotions of wonder 
and submission, with which, in the material world, we survey 
the effects produced by the mysterious and uncontrollable opera- 
tion of physical causes. It is fortunate that upon this, as upon 
many other occasions, the difficulties which had long baffled the 
efforts of solitary genius begin to appear less formidable to the 
united exertions of the race ; and that in proportion as the expe- 
rience and the reasonings of different individuals are brought to 
hear upon the same objects, and are combined in such a manner 
as to illustrate and to limit each other, the science of politics 
assumes more and more that systematical form which encourages 
and aids the labours of future inquirers. 

In prosecuting the science of politics on this plan, little assist- 
ance is to be derived from the speculations of ancient philo- 
sophers, the greater part of whom, in their political inquiries, 
confined their attention to a comparison of the different forms of 
government, and to an examination of the provisions made for 
perpetuating their own existence, and for extending the glory 
of the state. It was reserved for modern times to investigate 
those universal principles of justice and of expediency, which 
ought, under every form of government, to regulate the social 
order ; and of which the object is, to make as equitable a distri- 
bution as possible, among all the different members of a commu- 
nity, of the advantages arising from the political union. 

The invention of printing was perhaps necessary to prepare the 
way for these researches. In those departments of literature and 
of science, where genius finds within itself the materials of its 
labours ; in poetry, in pure geometry, and in some branches of 
moral philosophy ; the ancients have not only laid the founda- 
tions on which we are to build, but have left great and finished 

information, to confound, studiously, the speculative doctrines of politi- 
cal economy with those discussions concerning the first principles of 
Government, which happened, unfortunately, at that time to agitate the 
public mind. The doctrine of Free Trade was itself represented as of 
a revolutionary tendency ; and some who had formerly prided them- 
selves on their intimacy with Mr. Smith, and on their zeal for the pro- 
pagation of his liberal system, began to call in question the expediency 
of subjecting to the disputations of philosophers, the arcana of State 
Policy, and the unfathomable wisdom of the feudal ages. 


1 ACCOUITT.OF THE LVB AHB WXITINaS 

models for our imitation. But in physics, where our progress de- 
pends on an immense collection of facts, and on a combination of 
the accidental lights daily struck out in the innumerable walks 
of observation and experiment ; and in politics, where the mate- 
rials of our theories are equally scattered, and are collected and 
arranged with still greater difficulty, the means of communication 
afforded by the press have, in the course of two centuries, accele- 
rated the progress of the human mind, far beyond what the most 
sanguine hopes of our predecessors could have imagined. 

The progress already made in this science, inconsiderable as it 
is in comparison of what may be yet expected, has been sufficient 
to show, that the happiness of mankind depends, not on the share 
which the people possesses, directly or indirectly, in the enact- 
ment of laws, but on the equity and expediency of the laws 
that are enacted. The share which the people possesses in the 
government is interesting, chiefly to the small number of men 
whose object is the attainment of political importance ; but the 
equity and expediency of the laws are interesting to every member 
of the community ; and more especially to those whose personal 
insignificance leaves them no encouragement but what they de- 
rive Irom the general spirit of the government under which they 
live. 

It is evident, therefore, that the most important branch of po- 
litical science is that which has for its object to ascertain the phi- 
losophical principles of jurisprudence ; or (as Mr. Smith expresses 
it) to ascertain '*the general principles which ought to run 
through and be the foundation of the laws of all nations."* In 
countries where the prejudices of the people are widely at 
variance with these principles, the political liberty which the 
constitution bestows, only furnishes them with the means of ac- 
complishing their own ruin : And if it were possible to suppose 
these principles completely realized in any system of laws, the 
people would have little reason to complain that they were not 
momediately instrumental in their enactment. The only infallible 
criterion of the excellence of any constitution is to be found iu 
the detail of its municipal code ; and the value which wise men 
set on political freedom, arises chiefly from the facility it is 
supposed to aflbrd for the introduction of those legislative im- 
provements which the general interests of the community recom- 
mend. I cannot help adding, that the capacity of a people to 
exercise political rights with utility to themselves and to their 
country, presupposes a diffusion of knowledge and of good morals, 
which can only result from the previous operation of laws &voui- 
able to industry, to order, and to freedom. 

* See the conclusion of his Theoiy of Moral Sentiments. 


OF ADAM BKITH, LL.I>. ll 

Of the trutli of these remarks enlightened politicians seem now 
to foe in general convinced ; for the most celebrated works which 
have been produced in the different countries ot Europe, during 
the last thirty years, by Smith, Quesnai, Turgot, Campomanes, 
Beccaria, and others, have aimed at the improvement of society, — 
not by delineating plans of new constitutions, but by enlightening 
the policy of actual legislators. Such speculations, while they 
are more essentially and more extensively useful than any others, 
have no tendency to unhinge established institutions, or to in- 
flame the passions of the multitude. The improvements they re- 
commend are to be effected by means too gradual and slow in 
their operation, to warm the imaginations of any but the specu- 
lative few; and in proportion as they are adopted, they conso- 
lidate the political fabric, and enlarge the basis upon which 
it rests. 

To direct the policy of nations with respect to one most im- 
portant class of its laws, those which form its system of political 
economy, is the great aim of Mr. Smith's Inquiry: And he has 
unquestionably had the merit of presenting to the world, the most 
comprehensive and perfect work that has yet appeared, on the 
general principles of any branch of legislation. The example 
which he has set will be followed, it is to be hoped, in due time, 
by other writers, for whom the internal policy of states fur- 
nishes many other subjects of discussion no less curious and inte- 
resting ; and many accelerate the progress of that science which 
Lord Bacon has so well described in the following passage : " Finis 
et scopus quern leges intueri, atque ad quem jussiones et sanc- 
tipnes suas dirigere debeut, non alius est, quam ut cives feliciter 
degaut ; id fiet, si pietate et religione recte instituti ; moribus 
honesti ; armis ad versus hostes e^temos tuti ; legum auxilio ad- 
versus seditiones et privatas injurias muniti ; imperio et magis- 
tratibus obsequentes ; copiis et opibus locupletes et fiorentes 

fuerint. Certe cognitio ista ad viros civiles proprie spectat ; 

qui optime ndrunt, quid ferat societas humana, quid salus populi, 
quid SDquitas naturalis, quid gentium mores, quid rerumpubli- 
carum format diversae : ideoque possint de legibus, ex priucipiis 
et prseceptis tam aaquitatis naturalis, quam politices decemere. 
Quamobrem id nunc agatur, ut fontes justitisd et utilitatis pub- 
licae petantur, et in singulis juris partibus character quidam et 
idea justi exhibeatur, ad quam particularium regnorum et rerum- 
pubiicarum leges probare, atque inde emendationem moliri, 
quisque, cui hoc cordi erit et curaB, possit." 

The enumeration contained in the foregoing passage, of the 
different objects of law, coincides very nearly with that given by 
Mr. Smith in the conclusion of his Theory of Moral Sentiments ; 
and the precise aim of the political speculations which he tht!n 


lii AOOOUKT 01 THE UFl AND WBITINOS 

announced, and of -v^hich he afterwards publislied so ralaable a 
part in his Wealth of Nations, was to ascertain the general prin- 
ciples of justice and of expediency, which ought to guide the 
institutions of legislators on these important articles ; — in the 
words of Lord Bacon, to ascertain those lege* i^um, '* ex quibus 
informatio peti possit, quid in singulis legibus bene aut perperam 
positum aut constitutum sit." 

The branch of legislation which Mr. Smith has made choice of 
as the subject of his work, naturally leads me to remark a very 
striking contrast between the spirit of ancient and of modern po- 
licy in respect to the Wealth of Nations.* The great object of 
the former was to counteract the love of money and a taste for 
luxury, by positive institutions ; and to maintain in the great 
body of the people, habits of frugality, and a severity of manners. 
The decline of states is uniformly ascribed by the philosophers and 
historians, both of Greece and Rome, to the influence of riches on 
national character ; and the laws of Lycurgus, which, during a 
course of ages, bauished the precious metals from Sparta, are pro- 
posed by many of them as the most perfect model of leg' slat on 
devised by human wisdom. How opposite to this is the doccrine 
of modem politicians ! Far from considering -poverty as an ad- 
vantage to a state, their great aim is to open new sources of 
national opulence, and to animate the activity of all classes of the 
people, by a taste for the comforts and accommodations of life. 

One principal cause of this difference between the spirit of 
ancient and of modern policy, may be found in the difference 
between the sources of national wealth in ancient and in modem 
times. In ages when commerce and manufactures were yet in 
their infancy, and among states constituted like most of the 
ancient republics, a sudden influx of riches from abroad was 
justly dreaded as an evil, alarming to the morals, to the industry, 
and to the freedom of a people. So different, however, is the 
case at present, that the most wealthy nations are those where 
the people are the most laborious, and where they enjoy the 
greatest degree of liberty. Nay, it was the general diffusion of 
wealth among the lower orders of men, which first gave birth to 
the spirit of independence in modem Europe, and which has pro- 
duced under some of its governments, and especially under our 
own, a more equal diffusion of freedom and of happiness than took 
place under the mojt celebrated constitutions of antiquity. 

Without this diffusion of wealth among the lower orders, the 
important effects resulting from the invention of printing would 
have been extremely limited ; for a certain degree of ease and in- 

* Filangieri^ La Soienza della Legislazione, L. L cap. 13. 


OF ADAM BHITH, UtJ), llii 

dependence is necessary to inspire men with the desire of know- 
ledge, and to afford them the leisure which is requisite for 
acquiring it ; and it is only by the rewards which such a state of 
society holds up to industry and ambition, that the selfish pas- 
sions of the multitude can be interested in the intellectual im- 
provement of their children. The extensive propagation of light 
and refinement arising from the influence of the press, aided by 
the spirit of commerce, seems to be the remedy provided by 
nature, against the fatal effects which would otherwise be pro- 
duced, by the subdivision of labour accompanjdng the progress of 
the mechanical arts: Nor is anything wanting to make the 
remedy effectual, but wise institutions to facilitate general 
instruction, and to adapt the education of individuals to the 
stations they are to occupy. The mind of the artist, which, from 
the limited sphere of his activity, would sink below the level of 
the peasant or the savage, might receive in infancy the means of 
inteUectual enjoyment, and the seeds of moral improvement ; and 
even the insipid uniformity of his professional engagements, by 
presenting no object to awaken his ingenuity or to distract his 
attention, might leave him at liberty to employ his faculties, on 
subjects more interesting to himself, and more extensively useful 
to others. 

These effects, notwithstanding a variety of opposing causes 
which still exist, have already resulted, in a very sensible degree^ 
from the liberal policy of modern times. Mr. Hume, in his Essay 
on Commerce, after taking notice of the numerous armies raised 
and maintained by the small republics in the ancient world, 
ascribes the military power of these states to their want of com- 
merce and luxury. ''Few artizans were maintained by the 
labour of the farmers, and therefore more soldiers might live 
upon it." He adds, however, that '' the policy of ancient times was 
VIOLENT, and contrary to the natural course of things ;"-;-by 
which, I presume, he means, that it aimed too much at modifying, 
by the force of positive institutions, the order of society, accord- 
ing to some preconceived idea of expediency ; without trusting 
sufficiently to those principles of the human constitution, which, 
wherever they are allowed free scope, not only conduct mankina 
to happiness, but lay the foundation of a progressive improve- 
ment in their condition and in their character. The advantages 
which modem policy possesses over the ancient, arise principally 
from its conformity, in some of the most important articles of 
poUtical economy, to an order of things recommended by nature ; 
and it would not be difficult to show, that, where it remains im- 
perfect, its errors may be traced to the restraints it imposes on 
the natural course of human affairs. Indeed, in these restraints 
may be discovered the latent seeds of many of the prejudices and 


liv ACCOUNT or THE LIFE AND WBITINOS 

follies which infect modern manners, and which have so long bid 
defiance to the reasonings of the philosopher and the ridicule of 
the satirist. 

The foregoing very imperfect hints appear to me to form, 
not only a proper, but in some measure a necessary introduction 
to the few remarks I have to offer on Mr. Smith's Inquiry ; as 
they tend to illustrate a connection between his system of com- 
mercial politics, and those speculations of his earlier years, in 
which he aimed more professedly at the advancement of human 
improvement and happiness. It is this view of political economy 
that can alone render it interesting to the moralist, and can dig- 
nify calculations of profit and loss in the eye of the philosopher. 
Mr. Smith has alluded to it in various passages of his work, but 
he has nowhere explained himself fully on the subject ; and the 
great stress he has laid on the effects of the division of labour in 
increasing its productive powers, seems, at first sight, to point to 
a different and very melancholy conclusion ; — that the same 
causes which promote the progress of the arts, tend to degrade 
the mind of the artist ; and, of consequence, that the growth 
of national wealth implies a sacrifice of the character of the 
people. 

The fundamental doctrines of Mr. Smith's system are now 
80 generally known, that it would be tedious to offer any 
recapitulation of them in this place ; even if I could hope to 
do justice to the subject, within the limits which I have pre- 
scribed to myself I shall content myself, therefore, with 
remarking, in general terms, that the great and leading 
object of his speculations is, to illustrate the provisions made by 
nature in .the principles of the human mind, and in the circum- 
stances of man's external situation, for a gradual and progressive 
augmentation in the means of national wealth ; and to demon- 
strate that the most effectual plan for advancing a people to 
greatness, is to maintain that order of things which nature has 
pointed out ; by allowing every man, as long as he observes the 
rules of justice, to pursue his own interest in his own way, and 
to bring both his industry and his capital into the freest com po- 
tion with those of his fellow-citizens. Every system ot policy 
which endeavours, either by extraordinary encouragements to 
draw towards a particular species of industry a greater share of 
the capital of the society than what would naturally go to it, or, 
by extraordinary restraints, to force from a particular species of 
industry some share of the capital which would otherwise be em- 
ployed in it, is, in reality, subversive of the great purpose which 
it means to promote. 

What the circumstances are, which, in modem Europe, have 
contributed to disturb this order of nature, and, in particular, to 


OF APAM SMITH, LL.]>. !▼ 

encourage the industry ox towns, at the expense of that of the 
country, Mr. Smith has investigated with great ingenuity ; and 
in such a manner, as to throw much new light on the his- 
tory of that state of society which prevails in this quarter of the 
globe. His observations on this subject tend to show, that these 
circumstances were, in their first origin, the natural and the un- 
avoidable result of the peculiar situation of mankind during a 
certain period; and that they took their rise, not from any 
general scheme of policy, but from the private interests and pre- 
judices of particular orders of men. 

The state of society, however, which at first arose from a sin- 
gular combination of accidents, has been prolonged much beyond 
its natural period, by a false system of political economy, propa- 
gated by merchants and manufacturers ; a class of individuals, 
whose interest is not always the same with that of the public, aud 
whose professional knowledge gave them many advantages, more 
particularly in the infancy of this branch of science, in defending 
those opinions which they wished to encourage. By means of 
this system a new set of obstacles to the progress of national pros- 
perity has been created. Those which arose from the disorders 
of the feudal ages, tended directly to disturb the internal arrange- 
ments of society, by obstructing the free circulation of labour and 
of stock, from employment to employment, and from place to 
place. The false system of political economy, which has been 
hitherto prevalent, as its professed object has been to regulate the 
commercial intercourse between different nations, has produced 
its effect in a way less direct and less manifest, but equaUy preju- 
dicial to the states that have adopted it. 

On this system, as it took its rise from the prejudices or rather 
from the interested views of mercantile speculators, Mr. Smith 
bestows the title of the Commercial or Mercantile System ; and 
he has considered at great length its two principal expedients for 
enriching a nation ; restraints upon importation, and encourage- 
ments to exportation. Part of these expedients, he observes, have 
been dictated by the spirit of monopoly, and part by a spirit of 
jealousy against those countries with which the balance of trade is 
supposed to be disadvantageous. All of them appear clearly, from 
his reasonings, to have a tendency unfavourable to the wealth of 
the nation which imposes them. His remarks with respect to the 
jealousy of commerce are expressed in a tone of indignation, which 
he seldom assumes in his political writings. 

" In this manner," says he, " the sneaking arts of underling 
tradesmen are erected into political maxims for the conduct ol a 
great empire. By such maxims as these, nations have been taught 
that their interest consisted in beggaring all their neighbours. 
£ach nation has been made to look with an invidious eye upon 


In ACCOUNT or the ufe ahd WBiTnras 

tbe prosperity of all the nations with which it trades, and to con- 
sider their gain as its own loss. Commerce, which ought naturally 
to be, among nations as among individuals, a bond of union and 
friendship, nas become the most fertile source of discord and 
animosity. The capricious ambition of kings and ministers has 
not, durii^ the present and the preceding century, been more fatal 
to the repose of Europe, than the impertinent jealousy of mer- 
chants and manufacturers. The violence and injustice of the 
rulers of mankind is an ancient evil, for which, perhaps, the nature 
of human affairs can scarce admit of a remedy. But the mean 
rapacity, the monopolizing spirit of merchants and manufEkcturers, 
who neither are nor ought to be the rulers of mankind, though it 
cannot perhaps be corrected, may very easily be prevented from 
disturbing the tranquillity of anybody but themselvea** 

Such are the liberal principles which, according to Mr. Smith, 
ought to direct the commercial policy of nations ; and of which 
it ought to be the great object of legislators to facilitate the estab- 
lishment. In what manner the execution of the theory should be 
•conducted in particular instances, is a question of a very different 
nature, and to which the answer must vary in different countries, 
:according to the different circumstances of the case. In a specu- 
lative work, such as Mr. Smith's, the consideration of this ques- 
tion did not fall properly under his general plan ; but that he was 
abundantly aware of the danger to be apprehended from a rash 
application of political theories, appears not only from the general 
strain of his writings, but from some incidental observation which 
he has expressly made upon the subject. ''So unfortunate," says 
he, in one passage, " are the effects of all the regulations of the 
mercantile ^stem, that they not only introduce very dangerous 
disorders into the state of the body politic, but disorders wmch it 
is often difficult to remedy, without occasioning, for a time at least, 
still greater disorders. In what manner, therefore, the natural 
system of perfect liberty and justice ought gradually to be restored 
we must leave to the wisdom of future statesmen and legislators 
to detennine." In the last edition of his Theory of Mor^ Senti- 
ments, he has introduced some remarks, which have an obvious 
reference to the same important doctrine. The following passage 
seems to refer more particularly to those derangements of the 
social order which derived their origin from the feudal iostitu- 
tious : 

The man whose public spirit is prompted altogether by humanity 
and benevolence, will respect the established powers and privi- 
leges even of individuals, and still more of the great orders and 
societies into which the state is divided. Though he should con- 
sider some of them as in some measure abusive, he will content 
himself with moderating what he often cannot annihilate without 


t 


OV ADAM 6MITB, LIJ». Ivii 

great violence. When he cannot conquer the rooted prejndioes 
of the people by reason and persuasion, he will not attempt to 
sabdue them by force ; but will religiously observe what, by 
Cicero, is justly called the divine maxim of Plato, never to use 
violence to his country any more than to his parents. He will 
accommodate, as well as he can, his public arrangements to the 
confirmed habits and prejudices of the people ; and wi). remedy, 
as weU as he can, the inconveniences which may flow from the 
want of those regulations which the people are averse to submit 
to. When he cannot establish the right, he will not disdain to 
ameliorate the wrong ; but, like Solon, when he cannot establish 
the best system of laws, he will endeavour to establish the bert 
that the people can bear. 
These cautions with respect to the practical applieation of general 
inciples were peculiarly necessary from the author of '^The 
ealth of Nations ;" as the unlimited freedom of trade, whieh it 
is the chief aim of his work to recommend, is extremely apt^ by 
flattering the indolence of the statesman, to suggest to those who 
are inrested with absolute power, the idea of carrying it int* 
immediate execution. ^ Nothing is more adverse to the tranquil* 
lity of a statesman," says the author of an Eloge on the Adminia- 
tration of Colbert, '^ than a spirit of moderation ; because it con- 
demns him to perpetual observation, shows him every moment the 
insufficiency of his wisdom, and leaves him the melancholy seDse 
of his own imperfection ; while, under the shditer of a few general 
principles, a systematical politician enjoys a perpetual calm. By 
the help of one alone, that of a perfect liberty of trade, he would 
goveiTi the world, and would leave human affieiirs to arrange them- 
selves at pleasure, under the operation of the prejudices and the 
self-interests of individuals. If these run counter to each other, 
he gives himself no anxiety about the consequence ; he insists 
that the result cannot be judged of till aft^ a century or two 
shall have elapsed. If Ids contemporaries, in consequence of the 
disorder into which he has thrown public affairs, are scrupulous 
about submitting quietly to the experiment, he accuses them of 
impatience. They alone, and not he, are to blame for what they 
have 8«flr(u%d ; and the principle continues to be inculcated with 
the same zeal and the same confidence as before." These are the 
words of the ingenious and eloquent author of the Eloge on Col- 
bert, which ob. ined the prize from the French Academy in the 
year 1763 ; a performance which, although confined and erro- 
neous in its speculative views, abounds with just and important 
reflections of a practical nature. How &r his remarks apply 
to that particular class of politicians whom he evidently 
stimed at in the foregoing passage, I shall not presume to 
decide. 

e 2 


Iviii AcconiTT of the life and wBiToas 

It is hardly necessary for me to add to these ohservations, tha^ 
they do not detract in the least Irom the value oi those political 
theories which attempt to delineate the principles of a perlect 
legislation. Such theories (as I have elsewhere observed") ought 
to be considered merely as descriptions oi the ultimate objects at 
which the statesman ought to aim. The tranquillity of his admin- 
istration, and the immediate success jol his measures, depend on 
his good sense and his practical skill ; and his theoretical prin- 
ciples only enable him to direct his measures steadily and wisely, 
to promote the improvement and happiness oi mankind, and pre- 
vent him from being ever led astray from these important ends, 
by more limited views of temporary expedience. " In all cases,'* 
says Mr. Hume, '^ it must be advantageous to know what is most 
perlect in the kind, that we may be able to bring any real consti- 
tution or form of government as near it as possible, by such 
gentle alterations and innovations as may not give too great dis- 
turbance to society." r 

The limits of this Memoir make it impossible for me to examine 
particularly the merit of Mr. Smith's work in point of originality. 
That his doctrine concerning the freedom ot trade and oi industry 
coincides remarkably with that which we find in the writings of 
the French Economists, appears from the slight view of their 
system which he himself has given. But it surely cannot be pre- 
tended by the warmest admirers of that system, that any one of 
its numerous expositors has approached to Mr. Smith in the 
precision and perspicuity with which he has stated it, or in the 
scientific and luminous manner in which he has deduced it from 
elementary principles. The awkardness of their technical lan- 
guage, and the paradoxical form in which they have chosen te 
present some of their opinions, are acknowledged even by those 
who are most willing to do justice to their merits : whereas it may 
be doubfced, with respect to Mr. Smith's Inquiry, if there exists 
any book beyond the circle of the mathematical and physical 
sciences, which is at once so agreeable in its arrangement to the 
rules of a sound logic, and so accessible to the examination of 
ordinary readers. Abstracting entirely from the author's peculiar 
and original speculations, I do not know that, upon any subject 
whatever, a work has been produced in our times, containing so 
methodir'>l, so comprehensive, and so judicious a digest of all the 
most profound and enlightened philosophy of the age. 

In justice also to Mr. Smith, it must be observed, that although 
some of the economical writers had the start of him in publishing 
their doctrines to the world, these doctrines appear, with respect 
to him, to have been altogether original, and the result of his own 

* Elements of the Philosophy of the Human liind, p. 261. 


or ADAH SXITH, LLJ>. liz 

leflections. Of this, I think, every person mast be convinced, 
who reads the Inquiry with due attention, and is at pains to 
examine the gradual and beautiful progress oi the author s ideas : 
But in case any doubt should remain on this head, it may be pro- 
per to mentioD, that Mr. Smith's political lectures, comprehending 
the fundamental principles of his Inquiry, were delivered at 
Glasgow as early as the year 1752 or 1753 ; at a period, surely, 
when there existed no French performance on the subject, that 
could be of much use to him in guiding his researches.* In the 
year 1756, indeed, M. Turgot (who is said to have imbibed his 
^rst notions concerning the unlimited freedom of commerce from 
an old merchant, M. Gournay) published in the Ena/dopidie, an 
article which sufficiently shows how completely his mind was 
emancipated from the old predjudices in favour of commercial 
regulations : but that even then, these opinions were confined to 
a few speculative men in France, appears from a passage in the 
Mimoires 9ur la Vie et Us Ouvrages de M. Turgot ; in which, after 
a short quotation from the article just mentioned, the author 
adds : '* These ideas were then considered as paradoxical ; they 
are since become common, and they will one day be adopted 
universally." 

The Political Discourses of Mr. Hume were evidently of greater 
use to Mr. Smith, than any other book that had appeared prior to 
his lectures. Even Mr. Hume's theories, however, though always 
plausible and ingenious, and in most instances profound and just, 
involve some fundamental mistakes ; and, when compared with 
Mr. Smith's, afford a striking proof, that, in considering a subject 
80 extensive and so complicated, the most penetrating sagacity, if 
directed only to particular questions, is apt to be led astray by first 
appearances ; and that nothing can guard us effectually against 
error, but a comprehensive survey of the whole field of dis- 
cussion, assisted by an accurate and patient analysis of the ideas 
about which our reasonings are employed. It may be worth while 
to add, that Mr. Hume's Essay " on the Jealousy of Trade," with 
some other of his Political Discourses, received a very flattering 
proof of M. Turgot's approbation, by his undertaking the task 
of translating them into the. French language.t 

* In proof of this, it is sufficient for me to appeal to a short history 
of the progress of political economy in France, published in one of the 
volumes of Ephenxeridea du Citoyen, See the first part of the volume 
for the year 1769. The paper is entitled, Notice abrSgie dea dlj^^rens 
JScrUif Modemes, qui ont concouru tn France d /ormer la science de 
Vicxmomie politique, 

+ When this memoir was first written, I was not fully aware to what 
tn cxt<;nt the French economists had been anticipated, in some ot their 
most important conclusions, by writers (chiefly British) of a much earlier 


Ik aooounz ot shs urs asj> wbitings 

It does not belong to mj present undertaking (even if I 
were qualified for such a task) to attempt a separation of the 
solid and important doctrines of Mr. Smith's book from those 
which appear exceptionable or doubtfuL I acknowledge that 
there are some oi his conclusions to which I would not be under- 
ftood to subscribe implicitly ; more particularly in that chapter^ 
where he treats of the principles of taxation ; — a subject which 
he has certainly examined in a manner more loose and unsatifh 
factory than most of the others which have fallen under his 
review.* 

It would be improper for me to conclude this section without 

date. I had often, indeed, been struck with the coincidence between 
their reasonings concerning the adTantages of their territoriiU tax, and 
Mr. Locke's speculations on the same subject, in one of his political 
discourBes published sixty years before ; as well as with the coincidence 
of their argument against corporations and exclusive companies, with 
what had been urged at a still earlier period, by the celebrated John 
de Witt, Sir Josiah Child, John Gary, of Bristol, and various other spec- 
ulative men, who appeared in the latter part of the seventeenth century. 
To these writers, my attention had been directed by some quotations of 
the Abba Morellet, iu his very able Memoir on the East India Company 
of France, printed in 1769. Many passages, however, much more full and 
explicit than those which had fallen in his way, have been pointed out to 
me by the Earl of Lauderdale, in his curious and valuable collection of 
rare English Tracts relating to political economy. In some of these, 
the argument is stated in a manner so clear and so conclusive, as to 
rmder it surprising, that truths of which the public haabeen so long in 
in possession, should have been so completely overborne by prejudice 
and misrepresentation, as to have had, to a large proportion of r^ers, 
the appearance oi novelty and paradox, when revived in the philosophi- 
cal theories of the present age. 

That the writers of this Island should have had the start of those in 
the greater part of Europe, in adopting enlightened ideas concerning 
commerce, will not appear surprising, when we consider that " according 
to the Common Law of England, the freedom of trade is the birthright 
of the subject." For the opinions of Lord Coke and of Lord Chief- 
Justice Fortescae, on this point, see a pamphlet by Lord Lauderdale, 
entitled, " Hints to the Manufacturers of Great Britain," &c., (printed 
in 1805) ; where also may be found a list of statutes containing recog- 
nitions and declarations of the above principle, 

* Among the questionable doctrines to which Mr. Smith has lent the 
sanction of his name, there is perhaps none that involves so many impor- 
tant consequences as the opinion he has maintained concerning the 
expediency of legal restrictions on the rate of interest. The inconclusive- 
ncss of his reasoning on this point, has heen demonstrated, with a singular 
degree oi logical acutencss, by Mr. Bcntham, in a short treatise entitled 
J)qfence of U&my ; a performance to which (notwithstanding the 


or ADAX SMITH, LL.1>. hi 

taking notice of the manly and dignified freedom with which the 
author uniiormly delivers his opinions, and of the superiority 
which he discovers throughout, to all the little passions connected 
with the factions of the times in which he wrote. Whoever takes 
the trouble to compare the general tone of his composition with 
the period of its first publication, canuot fail to feel ^nd acknow- 
ledge the force of this remark. It is not often that a disinterested 
zeal for truth has so soon met with its just reward. Philosophers 
(to use an expression of Lord Bacon's) are "the servants of pos- 
terity ;" and most of those who have devoted their talents to the 
best interests of mankind, have been obliged, like Bacon, to " be- 
queath their fame'' to a race yet unborn, and to console themselves 
with the idea of sowing what another generation was to reap : 

Insere Daphni pyros^ carpent tua poma nepotes. 

Mr. Smith was more fortunate ; or rather, in this respect, his for- 
tune was singular. He survived the publication of his work only 
fifteen years ; and yet, during that short period, he had not only 
the satisfaction of seeing the opposition it at first elcited, gra- 
dually subside, but witnessing the practical influence of hlB 
writings on the commercial pohcy of his country. 


CoNOLUBioir ov THE Nasbatitb. 

Abovt two years after the publication of " The Wealth of Na- 
tions,'* Mr. Smith was appointed one of the Oommissioners of his 
Majesty's Customs in Scotland ; a preferment which, in his esti- 

long interval that has elapsed since the date of its publication), I do not 
know that any answer has yet been attempted ; and which a late writer 
(Sir Francis Baring, in his Pamphlet on the Bank of England), 
eminently acquainted with the operations of commerce, has pronounced 
(and, in my opinion, with great truth) to be " perfectly unanswerable." 
It is a remarkable circumstance, that Mr. Smith should, in this solitary 
instance, have adopted, on such slight grounds, a conclusion so strikingly 
contrasted with the general spirit of his political discussions, and so 
manifestly at variance with the fundamental principles which, on other 
occasions, he has so boldly followed out, through all their practical appli- 
cations. This is the more surprising, as the French Economists had, a 
few years before, obviated the most . plausible objections which are apt 
to present themselves against this extension of the doctrine of commer- 
cial freedom. See, in particular, some observations in Mr. Turgot's 
Beflections on the Formation and Distribution of Riches; and a 
separate Essay, by the same author, entitled, ** M6moire sur le pr6t & 
int^rfit, et sur le Commerce des ' Fcrs.' " 


bdi ACCOUNT OF THB IiIfE AND WBITIITOS 

matioU) derived an additional value from its being bestowed on 
him at the request of the Duke of Buccleuch. The greater part 
of these two years he passed in London, enjoying a society too ex- 
tensive and varied to aiford him any opportunity of indulging his 
taste for etady. His time, however, was not lost to himself ; for 
much'^f ift-was spent with some of the first names in English Ute- 
ratufe. ^ these no unfavourable specimen is preserved by Dr. 
Barnard, in his well-known *' Verses addressed to Sir Joshua 
Reynolds and his friends.*' 

If I have thoughts, and can't express 'em. 
Gibbon shall teach me how to dress 'em 

In words select and terse : 
Jones teach me modesty and Greek, 
Smith how to think, Burke how to speak, 

And Beauclerc to converse.* 

In consequence of Mr. Smith's appointment to the Board of 
Customs, he removed, in 1778, to Edinburffh, where he spent the 
last twelve years of his life ; enjoying an affluence which was more 
than equal to all his wants ; and, what was to him of still greater 
value, the prospect of passing the remainder of his days among 
the companions of his youth. 

His mother, who, though now in extreme old age, still pos- 
sessed a considerable degree of health, and retained all her 
faculties unimpaired, accompanied him to town ; and his cousin 
Miss Jane Douglas (who had formerly been a member of his family 
at Glasgow, and for whom he had always felt the affection of a 
brother) while she divided with him those tender attentions 
which her aunt's infirmities required, relieved him of a charge for 
which he was peculiarly ill quaJtfied, by her friendly superintend- 
ence of his domestic economy. 

The accession to his income which his new office brought him, 
enabled him to gratify, to a much greater extent than his former 
circumstances admitted of, the natural generosity of his disposi- 
tion ; and the state of his funds at the time of his death, com- 
pared with his very moderate establishment, confirmed, beyond a 
doubt, what his intimate acquaintances had often suspected, that 
a large proportion of his annual savings was allotted to offices of 
secret charity. A small, but excellent library, which he had gra- 
dually formed with great judgment in the selection, and a 
simple, though hospitable table, where, without the formality of an 
invitation, he was always happy to receive his friends, were the 
only expenses that could be considered as his own.t 

* See Annual Register for the year 1776. 

t Some very affecting instances of Mr. Smith's beneficence, in cases 
where ho found it impossible to conceal entirely his good offices, have 


OF ADAX 8XIVH, LI1.P. IziU 

The change in his habits which his removal to Edinburgh pro- 
duced, was not equally favourable to his literair pursuits. The 
duties of his office, though they required but little exertion of 
thought, were yet sufficient to waste his spirits and to dissipate 
his attention ; and now that his career is closed, it is impossible 
to reflect on the time they consumed, without lamenting, that it 
had not been employed in labours more profitable to the world, 
and more equal to his mind. 

Daring the first years of his residence in this city, his studies 
seemed to be entirely suspended ; and his passion for letters served 
only to amuse his leisure, and to animate his conversation. The 
infirmities of age, of which he very early began to feel the ap- 
proaches, reminded him at last, when it was too late, of what he 
yet owed to the public, and to his own fame. The principal 
materials of the works which he had announced, had been long 
collected ; and little probably was wanting, but a few years of 
health and retirement, to bestow on them that systematical 
arrangement in which he delighted ; and the ornaments of that 
flowing, and apparently artless style, which he had studiously 
cultivated, but which, after all his experience in composition, he 
adjusted, with extreme difficulty, to his own taste * 

The death of his mother in 1784, which was followed by that of 
Miss Douglas, in 1788, contributed, it is probable, to frustrate 
these projects. They had been the objects of his affection for 
more than sixty years ; and in their society he had enjoyed, from 
hisinfiuicy, all that he ever knew of the endearments of a £unily.t 

been mentioned to me by a near relation of his, and one of his most 
confidential friends, Miss Ross, daughter of the late Patrick Koss, Esq., 
of Iimemethy. They were all on a scale much beyond what might 
have been expected from his fortune ,* and were accompanied with cir- 
cnmstances equally honourable to the delicacy of his feelings and the 
liberality of his heart. 

* Mr. Smith observed to me, not long before his death, that after all 
his practice in writing, he composed as slowly and with as great diffi- 
culty as at first. He added, at the same time, that Mr. Hume had 
acquired so great a fiu^ility in this respect, that the last volumes of his 
History were printed from his original copy, with a few marginal cor- 
rections. 

It may gratify the curiosity of some readers to know, that when Mr. 
Smith was employed in composition, he generally walked up and 
down his apartment, dictating to a secretary. All Mr. Hume's works 
(I have been assured) were written with his own hand. A critical 
reader may, I think, perceive in the different styles of these two classical 
writers, the effects of their different modes of study. 

t in the early part of Mr. Smith's life it is well known to his friends, 
that he was for several years attached to a young lady of great beauty 


InV AOOOUVS OF VHB LIfX AND WBITINQS 

He was now alone, and helpless ; and, though he bore his Iosb 
with equanimity, and regained apparently his former oheerfulness, 

Jet his health and strength gradually declined till the period of 
is death, which happened in July, 1790, about two years after 
that of his cousin, and six after that of his mother. His last 
illness, which arose from a chronic obstruction in his bowels, was 
lingering and painful ; but had every consolation to soothe it 
which he could derive from the tenderest sympathy of his friends, 
and from the complete resignation of his own mind. 

A few days before his death, finding his end approach rapidly, 
he gave orders to destroy all his manuscripts, excepting some de- 
tached essays, which he intrusted to the care of his executors ; 
and they were accordingly committed to the flames. What were the 
particular contents of these papers is not known even to his most 
intimate friends ; but there can be no doubt that they consisted, 
in part, of the letters on rhetoric, which he read at Edinburgh in 
the year 1748, and of the lectures on natural religion and on juris- 
prudence, which formed part of his course at Glasgow. That this 
irreparable injury to letters proceeded, in some degree, from an 
excessive solicitude in the author about his posthumous reputa- 
tion, may, perhaps, be true ; but with respect to some of his manu- 
scripts, may we not suppose, that he was influenced by higher 
motives ? It is but seldom that a philosopher, who has been 
occupied from his youth with moral or with political inquiries, 
succeeds completely to his wish in stating to others, the grounds 
upon which his own opinions are founded ; and hence it is, that 
the known principles of an individual, who has approved to the 
public his candour, his liberality, and his judgment, are entitled 
to a weight and an authority, independent of the evidence whidi 
he is able, upon any particular occasion, to produce in their sup- 
port. A secret consciousness of this circumstance, and an appre- 
hension that, by not doing justice to an important argument, the 
progress of truth may be rather retarded than advanced, have 
probably induced many authors to withhold from the world the 
unfinished results of their most valuable labours ; and to content 

and accomplishment. How far his addresses were favourably received, 
or what the circumstances were which prevented their union, I have not 
b^en able to learn ; but 1 believe it is pretty certain that, after this dis- 
appointment, he laid aside all thoughts of marriage. The lady to 
whom I allude died also unmarried. She survived Mr. Smith for a con- 
siderable number of years, and was alive long after the publication of 
the first edition of this Memoir. I had the pleasure of seeing her when 
she was turned of eighty, and she still retained evident traces of 
her former beauty. The powers of her understanding and the gaiety 
of her temper seemed to have sufi'ered nothing from the huid of 
time. 


OP AJ>±M BuaH, Utjy, htf 

themselves with giving the general sanction of their snffrages to 
tmths which they regarded as peculiarly interesting to the humaa 
race* 

The additions to the Theory of Moral Sentiments, most ot 
which were composed under severe disease, had fortunately been 
sent to the press in the beginning of the preceding winter ; and 
the author Uved to see the publication of the work. The moral 
and serious strain that prevails through these additions, when 
connected with the circumstance of his declining health, adds 
a peculiar charm to his pathetic eloquence, and communicates a 
new interest, if possible, to those sublime truths, which in the 
academical retirement of his youth, awakened the first ardours 
of his genius, and on which the last efforts of his mind reposed. 

In a letter addressed, in the year 1787, to the Principal of the 
University of Glasgow, in consequence of being elected Rector of 
that learned body, a pleasing memorial remains of the satisfaction 
with which he always recollected that period of his literary career, 
which had been more peculiarly consecrated to these important 
studies. ^' No preferment/' says he, '' could have given me so 

* Since writing the above, I have been favoured by Dr. Button with 
the following particulars. 

" Some time before his last illness, when Mr. Smith had occasion to 
go to London, he enjoined his friends, to whom he had intrusted the 
disposal of his manuscripts, that, in the event of his death, they should 
destroy all the volumes of his lectures, doing with the rest of his manu- 
scripts what they pleased. When now he had become weak, and saw 
the approaching period of his life, he spoke to his friends again upon 
the same subject. They entreated him to make his mind easy, as he 
might depend upon their fulfilling his desh^. He was then satisfied. 
Bat some days afterwards, finding his anxiety not entirely removed, he 
begged one of them to destroy the volumes immediately. This accord- 
ingly was done ; and his mind was so much relieved, that he was able 
to receive his Mends in the evening with his usual complacency. 

"They had been in use to sup with him every Sunday ; and that even- 
ing there was a pretty numerous meeting of them. Mr. Smith, not 
finding himself able to sit up with them as usual, retired to bed before 
supper ; and, as he went away, took leave of his friends by saying, ' I 
believe we must adjourn this meeting to some other place/ He died a 
very few days afterwards." 

Mr. Riddell, an intimate friend of Mr. Smith's, who was present at 
one of the conversations on the subject of the manuscripts, mentioned 
U) me, in addition to Dr. Hutton's note, that Mr. Smith regretted "he 
had done so little." " But I meant," said he, ''to have done more ; 
and there are materials in my papers, of which I could have made a 
great deal. But that is now out of the question. '' 

That the idea of destroying such unfinibhed works as might be in his 
possession at the time of his death, was not the efiiect of any sadden or 


Izvi ACCOUNT or THE UfB AND WRITINGS 

much real satisfaction. No man can owe greater obligations to a 
society than I do to the University of Glasgow. They educated 
me ; they sent me to Oxford. Soon after my return to Scotland, 
they elected me one of their own members ; and afterwards pre- 
ferred me to another office, to which the abilities and virtues of 
the never-to-be-forgotten Dr. Hutcheson had given a superior 
degree of illustration. The period of thirteen years which I spent 
as a member of that society, 1 remember as by £af the most use- 
ful, and therefore as by far the happiest and most honourable 
period of my life ; and now after three-aud-twenty years absence, 
to be remembered in so very agreeable a manner by my old friends 
and protectors, gives me a heart felt joy which I cannot easily 
express to you.** 

The short narrative which I have now finished, however barren 
of incident, may convey a general idea of the genius and character 
of this illustrious man. Ot the intellectual gifts and attainments 
by which he was so eminently distinguished ; of the originality 
and comprehensiveness of his views ; the extent, the variety, and 
the correctness of his information ; the inexhaustible fertility of 
his invention ; and the ornaments which his rich and beautiful 
imagination had borrowed from classical culture ; he has left 
behind him lasting monuments. To his private worth the most 

hasty resolution, appears from the following letter to Mr. Hume, written 
by Mr. Smith iu 1773, at a time when he was preparing himself for a 
Journey to London, with a prospect of a pretty long absence from Scot- 
land. 

" My dear Friend, " Edmburgh, 16 April, 1773. 

" As I have left the care of all my literary papers to you, I must tell 
you, that except those which I carry along with me, there are none 
worth the publication, but a fragment of a great work, which contains a 
history oi the astronomical systems that were succesively in fashion down 
to the time of Des Cartes. Whether that might not be published as a 
fragment of an intended juvenile work, I leave entirely to your judg- 
ment, though I begin to suspect myself that there is more refinement 
than solidity in some parts of it. This little work you will find in a 
thin folio paper book in my back room. All the other loose papers 
which you will find in that desk, or within the glass folding doors of a 
bureau which stands in my bed-room, together with about eighteen thin 
p-ipcr folio books, which you will likewise find within the same glass 
folding doors, 1 desire may be destroyed without any examination. 
Uulcss I die very suddenly, 1 shall take care that the papers I carry 
with me shall be carefully sent to you. 

" I ever am^ my dear Friend, most faithfully yours, 

"Adam Salith.** 

'* To David Hume, Esq., St Andrew's Square." 


or AD4X 8XITH, LL.]>. IzVU 

oeriain of all tesiimoDies may be found in that confidence, respect, 
and attachment, which followed him through all the various i*ela- 
tions of life. The serenity and gaiety he enjoyed, under the presh 
sore of his growing infirmities, and the warm interest he ielt to 
the last, in every thing connected with the welfiire of his friends, 
will be long remembered by a small circle, with whom, as long as 
his strength permitted, he regularly spent an evening in the week ; 
and to whom the recollection of his worth still forms a pleasing, 
though melancholy bond of union. 

The more delicate and characteristic features of his mind, it is 
perhaps impossible to trace. That there were many peculiarities 
both in his manners and in his intellectual habits, was mauifest 
to the most superficial observer ; but although, to those who 
knew him, these peculiarities detracted nothing from the respect 
which his abilities commanded ; and although, to his intimate 
friends, they added an inexpressible charm to his conversation, 
while they displayed, in the most interesting light, the artless 
simplicity of his heart ; yet it would require. a very skilful pencil 
to present them to the public eye. He was certainly not fitted tor< 
the general commerce of the world, or for the business of active 
life. The comprehensive speculations with which he had been 
occupied from his youth, and the variety of materials which his 
own invention continually supplied to his thoughts, rendered him 
habitually inattentive to familiar objects, and to common occur- 
rences ; and he frequently exhibited instances of absence, which 
have scarcely been surpassed by the fancy of La Bruyere. Even 
in company, he was apt to be engrossed with his studies ; and 
appeared, at times, by the motion of his lips, as well as by his 
looks and gestures, to be in the fervour of composition. I have 
often, however, been struck, at the distance of years, with his 
accurate memory of the most trifling particulars ; and am inclined 
to believe, from this and some other circumstances, that he pos- 
sessed a power, not perhaps uncommon among absent men, of 
recollecting, in consequence of subsequent efforts of reflection, 
many occurrences, which, at the time wheu they happened, did 
not seem to have sensibly attracted his notice. 

To the defect now mentioned, it was probably owing, in part, 
that he did not fall in easily with the common dialogue of conver- 
sation, and that he was somewhat apt to convey his own ideas in. 
the form of a lecture. When he did so, however, it never pro- 
ceeded from a wish to engross the discourse, or to . gratify his i 
vanity. His own inclination disposed him so strongly to enjoy in; 
silence the gaiety of those around him, that his friends were often, 
led to concert little schemes, in order to engage him in the discus- f 
sions most likely to ii^erest him. Nor do I think I shall be: 
accused of going too fiar^ when I say, that he .was scarcely ever 


Ixviii AccouNv ot thx ura AirD wbitinos 

known to start a new topic himself, or to appear unprepared npon 
those topics that were introduced hj others. Indeed, his conver- 
sation was never more amusing than when he gave a loose to his 
genius, upon the very few branches of knowledge of which he onlj 
possessed the outlines. 

The opinions he fonned of men, upon a slight acquaintance, 
were frequently erroneous ; but the tendency of his nature in- 
olined him much more to blind partiality, than to ill-founded pre- 
judice. The enlarged views of human affairs, on which his mind 
habitually dwelt, left him neither time nor inclination to study, 
in detail, the uninteresting peculiarities of ordiuary characters ; 
and aocordiugly, though intimately acquainted with the capacities 
of the intellect, and the workings of tne heart, and accustomed, 
in his theories, to mark, with tl^ most delicate hand, the nicest 
shades, both of genius and of the passions ; yet, in judging of 
individuals, it sometimes happened that his estimates were, in a 
surprising degree, wide of the truth. 

The opinions, too, which, in the thoughtlessness and confidence 
of his social hours, he was accustomed to hazard on books, and on 
questions of speculation, were not uniformly such as might have 
been expected from the superiority of his understanding, and the 
singular consistency of his philosophical principles. They were 
liable to be influenced by accidentol circumstances, and by the 
humour of the moment ; and when retailed by those who only 
saw him occasionally, suggested false and contradictory ideas of 
his real sentiments. On these, however, as on most other oocar 
sions, there was always much truth, as well as ingenuity, in his 
remarks ; and if the different opinions which, at different times, 
he pronounced upon the same subject, had been all combined 
together, so as to modify and limit each other, they would pro- 
bably have afforded materials for a decision, equally comprehen- 
sive and just. But, in the society of his friends, he had no dis- 
position to form those qualified conclusions that we admire in his 
writinffs ; and he generally contented himself with a bold and 
masteny sketch of the object, from the first point of view in 
which his temper, or his fancy, presented it. Something of the 
same kind might be remarked, when he attempted, in the flow of 
his spirits, to delineate those characters which, from long intimacy, 
he might have been supposed to understand thoroughly. The 
picture was always lively, and expressive ; and commonly bore a 
strong and amusing resemblance to the original, when viewed 
tinder one particular aspect ; but seldom, perhaps, conveyed a just 
and complete conception of it in all its dimensions and propor- 
tions. In a word, it was the &ult of his nnpremeditated judg- 
ments, to be too systematical, and too much in extremes. 

But, in whatever way these trifling peculiarities in his mannen 


OF ADAH SKITH, LL.]>. hdx 

may be explained, there can be no doubt, that they were inti- 
mately connected with Ijhe genuine artlessness of his mind. In 
this amiable quality, he often recalled to his friends the accounts 
that are given of good La Fontaine ; a quality which in him 
derived a peculiar grace from the singularity of its combination 
with those powers of reason and of eloquence, which, in his poli- 
tical and moral writings, have long engaged the admiration of 
Europe. 

In his external form and appearance, there was nothing un- 
common. When perfectly at ease, and when warmed with conver- 
sation,, his gestures were animated, and not ungraceful ; and, in 
the society of those he loved, his features were often brightened 
with a smile of inexpressible benignity. In the company of 
strangers, his tendency to absence, and perhaps still more his con- 
sciousness of this tendency, rendered his manner somewhat em- 
barrassed ; — ^an effect which was probably not a little heightened 
by those speculative ideas of propriety, which his recluse habits 
tended at once to perfect in his conception, and to diminish his 
power of realizing. He never sat for his picture ; but the me- 
dallion of Tassie conveys an exact idea of his profile, and of the 
general expression of his countenance. 

His valuable library, together with the rest of his property, was 
bequeathed to his cousin Mr. David Douglas, Advocate. In the 
education of this young gentleman, he had employed much of his 
leisure ; and it was only two years before his death (at a time when 
he could ill spare the pleasure of his society), that he had sent 
him to study law at Glasgow, under the care of Mr. Millar ; — ^the 
strongest proof he could give of his disinterested zeal for the im- 
provement of his friend, as well as of the esteem in which he held 
the abilities of that eminent Professor. 

The executors of his will were Dr. Black and Dr. Hutton ; with 
whom he had long lived in habits of the most intimate and cordial 
friendship ; and who, to the many other testimonies which they 
had given him of their affection, added the mournful office of 
witnessing his last moments. 


. •*• -• 


THE 


THEORY OF MORAL SENTIMENTS. 


Ipart /irst 

OF THE PROPRIETY OF ACTION, 


CONSISTING OV THBBB SBOTIOVa. 


B 




1 '.; 


SECTION L 

OF THE SENSE OF PBOPBIEXY. 


CHAPTER I. 

Of Sympathy, 

How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are 
evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him 
in the fortune of others, and render their happiness neces- 
sary to him, though he derives nothing from, it, except the 
pleasure of seeing it. Of this kind is pity or compassion, 
the emotion which we feel for the misery of others, when 
we either see it, or are made to conceive it in a very lively 
manner. That we often derive sorrow. from the sorrow of 
otiiers, is a matter of fact too obvious to require any in- 
stances to prove it; for this sentiment, like all the othev 
original passions of human nature, is by no means confined 
to the virtuous and humane, though they perhaps may feel 
it with the most exquisite sensibility. The. greatest rufiiitfi, 
the most hardened violator of the laws of society,, is not 
altogether without it. 

As we have no immediate e^^perience of what other men 
feel, we can form no idea of the manner in which they are^ 
affected, but by conceiving what we ourselves should feel 
in the like situation. Though our brother is upon the rapk, 
as long as we ourselves are at our ease, our sei^ses will 
never inform us of what he suffers. They never did, and 
never can, carry us beyond our own person, and itis byl^e 
imagination only that we can form any conception of what 


4 OF PROPRIETY. [pART I. 

are his sensations. Neither can that faculty help us to this 
any other way, than hy representing to us what would be 
our own, if we were in his case. It is the impressions of 
our own senses only, not those of his, which our imagina- 
tions copy. By the imagination we place ourselves in his 
situation, we conceive ourselves enduring all the same tor- 
ments, we enter as it were into his body, and become in 
some measure the same person with him, and thence form 
some idea of his sensations, and even feel something which, 
though weaker in degree, is not altogether unlike them. 
His agonies, when they are thus brought home to ourselves, 
when we have thus adopted and made them our own, begin 
at last to affect us, and we then tremble and shudder at the 
thought of what he feels. For as to be in pain or distress of 
any kind excites the most excessive sorrow, so to conceive or to 
imagine that we are in it, excites some degree of the same emo- 
tion, in proportion to the vivacity or dulness of the conception. 

That this is the source of our fellow-feeling for the misery 
of others, that it is by changing places in fancy with the 
sufferer, that we come either to conceive or to be affected 
by what he feels, may be demonstrated by many obvious 
observations, if it should not be thought sufficiently evident 
of itself. When we see a stroke aimed, and just ready to 
fall upon the Ibg or arm of another person, we naturally 
shrink and draw back our own leg or our own arm ; and 
when it does fall, we feel it in some measure, and are hurt 
by it as well as the sufferer. The mob, when they are 
gazing at a dancer on the slack rope, naturally writhe and 
twist and balance their own bodies as they see him do, and 
as they feel that they themselves must do if in his situation* 
Persons of delicate fibres and a weak constitution of body 
complain, that in looking on the sores and ulcers which are 
exposed by beggars in the streets, they are apt to feel an 
itchiBg or imeasy sensation in the corresponding part of 
their own bodies. The horror which they conceive at the 


SECT. I.] OF FBOPBI£TT« 6 

misery of those wretches affects that particular part in them- 
selves more than any other ; because that horror arises from 
conceiving what they themselves would suffer, if they really 
were the wretches whom they are looking upon, and if that 
particular part in themselves was actually affected in the 
same miserable manner. The very force of this conception 
is suBScient, in their feeble frames, to produce that itching 
or uneasy sensation complained of. Men of the most robust 
make, observe that in looking upon sore eyes they often 
feel a very sensible soreness in their own, which proceeds 
from the same reason ; that organ being in the strongest 
man more delicate than any other part of the body is in the 
weakest. 

Neither is it those circumstances only, which create paiQ 
or sorrow, that call forth our fellow-feeling. Whatever is 
the passion which arises from any object in the person 
principally concerned, an analogous emotion springs up, at 
the thought of his situation, in the breast of every attentive 
spectator. Our joy for the deliverance of those heroes of 
tragedy or romance who interest us, is as sincere as our 
grief for their distress, and our fellow-feeling with thieir 
misery is not more real than that with their happiness. We 
enter into their gratitude towards those faithful friends who 
did not desert them in their difficulties ; and we heartily go 
along with their resentment against those perfidious traitors 
who injured, abandoned, or deceived them. In every pfta- 
fiion of which the mind of man is susceptible, the emotions 
of the bystander always correspond to what, by bringing 
the case home to himself, he imagines should be the senti- 
ments of the sufferer. 

Pity and compassion are words appropriated to signify 
our fellow-feeling with the sorrow of others. Sympathy, 
though its meaning was, perhaps, originally the same, may 
now, however, without much impropriety, be made use of 
to denote our fellow-feeling with any passion whatever. 


• OV PROPHUTT;. [pAST U 

Upon gome ooeuioiiB ijnifisthy may %eem to arise BAerdy 
ft>om the Tiew of a eertain emotion in another person. The 
passions, upon sonae occasions, may seem to be transfused 
from one man to another, instantatteoosly, and antecedent 
to any knowledge of what excited Ihem in the person 
principally concerned. Girief and joy, for example, strongly 
expressed in the look and gestures of any person, at onoa 
affect the spectator with some degree of a like painful or 
agreeable emotion. A smiling face is, to everybody that 
isees it, a cheerful object ; as a sorrow&l >eountenanoe, on 
&e other band, is a melancholy one. 

This, however, does not hold universally, or with regaid 
to every passion. There are some passions of which the 
expressionb excite no sort of sympathy, but, before we are 
acquainted with what gave occasion to them, serve rather 
to disgust aftd provoke us against them. The furious be- 
haviour of an angry man is more likely to exasperate us 
against him^telf than against his enemies. As we are un** 
acquainted with his provocation, we cannot bring his case 
home to ourselves, nor conceive any thing like the passiouB 
whith it excites. But we plainly see what is the situation 
of those with whom he is angry, and to what violence they 
may be exposed from so enraged an adversary. We readily, 
there^Dre, sympathize with their fear or resentment, and are 
immediately disposed to take part against the man from 
'Whom they appear to be in danger. 

If the very appearances of grief and joy inspire ub with 
-some degree of tiie like emotions, it is because they suggecit 
to us the general idea of some good or bad fortune that hafi 
befallen the person in whom wc observe them : and in these 
passions thie is sufficient to have fiome little influence upon 
us. The effects of grief and joy terminate in the person 
who feels those emotions, of which the expressions do not, 
like those of leseiitmenty suggest to us the idea of any othcp: 


^£BGT. I,] -OF PBOFMBTT. '7 

rpersoa for yrkom we are concerned, and whose interests are 
opposile to Ms. The geoseril idea of good or bad fortune, 
Hierefore, ereates some concern for &6 person who has met 
^ih it ; but the general idea of proTocstion excites no sym- 
pathy with the anger of the man who has reoeiTed it 
Hatnre, it seems, teaches tts tx> be more averse to enter into 
iiiK pasl^on, and, till informed of its cause, to be disposed 
Tather to take part Against it 

Even our sympathy with the grief or joy of another, be- 
foie we are informed of the cause of eillier, is always ex- 
tremely imperfect General lamentations, which express 
nothing but the anguish of the sufiferer, create rather a 
euriosity to enquire into his situation, along with some dis- 
'position to sympathize with him, than any actual sympathy 
4hat is very sensible. The first question which we ask is. 
What has befallen you ? Till this be answered, though we 
are uneasy both from the vague idea of his misfortune, and 
Btill more from torturing ourselves with conjectures about 
what it may be, yet our fellow-feeling is not very con- 
ciderable. 

* Sympathy, thesefore, does not arise so much from the 
view of the passion, as from that of the situation which ex- 
cites it. We sometimes feel for another, a passion of which 
he himself seems to be altogether incapable ; because, when 
we put ourselves in his case, that passion arises in our 
breast from the imagination, though it does not in his from 
the reality. We blush for the impudence and rudeness of 
another, though he himself appears to have no sense of the 
impropriety of his own behaviour ; because we cannot help 
feeling with what confusion we ourselves should be cover- 
ed, had we behaved in so absurd a manner. 

^ Of all the calamities to which the condition of mortality 
exposes mankind, the loss of reason appears, to those who 


8 OP PttOPRIBTY. [PAKT I. 

Lave the least spark of humanity, hj far the most dreadful ; 
and they behold that last stage of human wretchedness with 
deeper commiseration than any other. But the poor wretch, 
who is in it, laughs and sings, perhaps, and is altogether 
insensible to his own misery. The anguish which humanity 
feels, therefore, at the sight of such an object, cannot be the 
reflection of any sentiment of the sufferer. The compassion 
of the spectator must arise altogether from the consideration 
of what he himself would feel if he was reduced to the same 
unhappy situation, and, what perhaps is impossible, was at 
the same time able to regard it with his present reason and 
judgment. 

What are the pangs of a mother, when she hears the 
moanings of her infant, that, during the agony of disease, 
cannot express what it feels ? In her idea of what it suffers, 
she joins, to its real helplessness, her own consciousness of 
that helplessness, and her own terrors for the unknown con- 
sequences of its disorder ; and out of all these, forms, fas 
her own sorrow, the most complete image of misery and dis- 
tress. The infant, however, feels only the imeasiness of 
the present instant, which can never be great. With re- 
gs^id to the future, it is perfectly secure, .and in its thought- 
lessness and want of foresight, possesses an antidote against 
fear and anxiety, the great tormentors of the human breast^ 
from which reason and philosophy will in vain attempt to 
defend it, when it grows up to a man. 

We sympathize even with the dead, and overlooking 
what is of real importance in their situation, that awful 
futurity which awaits them, we are chiefly affected by those 
circumstances which strike our senses, but can have no in* 
fluence upon their happiness. It is miserable, we think, to 
be deprived of the light of the sun ; to be shut out from 
life and conversation ; to be laid in the cold grave, a prey 
to corruption and the reptiles of the earth ; to be no more 


4ttCT. I.] OF PEOFRIBTT. 9 

ttonght of in this irorld, but to be obliterated, in a little time, 
from the affections, and almost from the memory, of their 
dearest friends and relations. Surely, we imagine, we can 
never feel too much for those who have suffered so dreadful 
a calamity. The tribute of our fellow-feeling seems doubly 
due to them now, when they are in danger of being forgot 
by every body ; and, by the vain honours which we pay to 
their memory, we endeavour, for our own misery, arti- 
ficially to keep alive our melancholy remembrance of their 
misfortune. That our sympathy can afford them no conso- 
lation seems to be an addition to their calamity ; and to think 
that all we can do is unavailing, and that, what alleviates 
all other distress, the regret, the love, and the lamentations 
of their friends, can yield no comfort to them, serves only 
to exasperate our sense of their misery. The happiness of 
the dead, however, most assuredly is affected by none of 
these circumstances ; nor is it the thought of these things 
which can ever disturb the profound security of their re- 
pose. The idea of that dreary and endless melancholy, 
which the fancy naturally ascribes to their condition, arises 
altogether from our joining to the change which has been 
produced upon them, our own consciousness of that change ; 
from our putting ourselves in their situation, and from our 
lodging, if I may be allowed to say so, our own living souls 
in their inanimated bodies, and thence conceiving what 
would be our emotions in this case. It is from this very 
illusion of the imagination, that the foresight of our own 
dissolution is so terrible to us, and that the idea of those 
circumstances, which undoubtedly can give us no pain 
when we are dead, makes us miserable while we are alive. 
And from thence arises one of the most important principles 
in human nature, the dread of death — the great poison to 
the happiness, but the great restraint upon the injustice of 
mankind ; which, while it afflicts and mortifies the indivi- 
dual, guards and protects the society. 


10 ov ntoPBZBTT; [east, li 


CHAPTER n 

Of i^ Fkaawre of miUual SympaGi^. 

■ But whatever may be tiie cause of sympathj, or however 
it may l>e excited, nothing pleases ns more than to observe 
in other men a fellow-feeling with all the emotions of our 
own breast ; nor are we ever so much shocked as by the 
appearance of the contrary. Those who are fond of deducing 
all our sentiments from certain refinements of self-love, 
think themselves at no loss to account, according to their 
own princi|des, both for this pleasure and this pain. Man, 
say they, conscious of his own weakness, and of the need 
which he has for the assistancl^ of others, rejoices whenever 
he observes that they adopt his own passions, because he is 
then assured of that assistance ; and grieves whenever he 
observes the contrary, because he is then assured of their 
opposition. But both the pleasure and the pain are always 
felt so instantaneously, and often upon such frivolous oc- 
casions, that it seems evident that neither of them can be 
derived from any such self-interested consideration. A man 
is mortified when, after having endeavoured to divert the 
xompany, he looks round and sees that nobody laughs at 
his jests but himself. On the contrary, the mirth of the 
compaaj is highly agreeable to him, and he regards this 
correspondence of their sentiments with his own as the 
greatest applause. 

Neither does his pleasure seem to arise altogether from 
the additional vivacity which his mirth may receive from 
sympathy with theirs, nor his pain from the disappointment 
he meets with when he misses this pleasure ; though both 
the one knd the other, no doubt, do in some measure. 


«ECT. !•] OF vmotmsTT. 11 

Wlten we liaYO read a book or poem m ^ften that we 
can rto longer find any amusemeat in reading it by our- 
Belves, we can still take pleasure in reading it to a com- 
panion. To him it has all the graces of novelty ; we enter 
into the snrprise and admiration which it naturally exeitea 
in him, but which it is no longer capable of exciting in us; 
we consider all the ideas whiek it presents, rather in the 
light in which they appear to him, than in that in whidi 
they a^>ear to ourselves, and we are amused by sympathy 
with his amusement, which thus enlivens our own. On 
the contrary, we should be vexed if he did not seem to be 
entertained with it, and we could no longer take any pleae- 
sare in reading it to him. It is ike same case here. The mirth 
%»f the company, no doubt, enlivens our own mirth ; and 
tiieir silence, no doubt, disi^vpoints us. But though this 
may contribute both to the pleasure which we derive from 
the one, and to the pain whfth we feel from the other, it is 
by no means the sole cause of either ; and this correspon- 
denee of the sentiments of others with our own appears to be 
a cause <^ pleasure, and the want of it a cause of pain, 
which cannot be accounted for in this manner. The syra- 
apathy which my friends express with my joy, might indeed 
give me pleasure by enlivening that joy ; but that which 
they express with my grief could give me none, if it served 
^only to enliven that grief. Sympathy, however, enlivens 
joy and alleviates grief. It enlivens joy by presenting 
another source of satisfaction ; and it alleviates grief by in- 
sinuating into the heart almost the only agreeable sensation 
which it is at that time capable of receiving. 

It is to be observed accordingly, that we are still more 
anxious to communicate to our friends our disagreeable, than 
our agreeable passions ; that we derive still more satisfaction 
from their sympathy with the former, than from that with 
the latter, and that we are still more shocked by the want 
of it. 


13 OF PXOFRIETT. [PA&T I. 

How are the nnfortftnate relieved when they have found 
out a person to whom thej can communicate the cause of 
their sorrow I Upon his sympathy they seem to dishurden 
themselves of a part of their distress: he is not improperly 
said to share it with them. He not only feels a sorrow of 
the same kind with that which they feel, but, as if he had 
derived a part of it to himself; what he feels seepas to 
alleviate the weight of what they feel. Yet, by relating 
their misfortunes, they in some measure renew their grief. 
They awaken in their memory the remembrance of those 
circumstances which occasion their affliction. Their tears 
accordingly flow faster than before, and they are apt to 
abandon themselves to all the weakness of sorrow. They 
take pleasure, however, in all this, and it is evident are 
sensibly relieved by it ; because the sweetness of his sym* 
pathy more than compensates the bitterness of that sorrow, 
which, in order to excite this Sympathy, they had thus en- 
livened and renewed. The cruelest insult, on the contrary, 
which can be offered to the unfortunate, is to appear to 
make light of their calamities. To seem not to be affected 
with the joy of our companions, is but want of politeness ; 
but not to wear a serious countenance when they tell us 
their afflictions, is real and gross inhumanity* 

Love is an agreeable, resentment a disagreeable passion : 
and accordingly we are not half so anxious that our frieuds 
should adopt our friendships, as that they should enter into 
our resentments. We can forgive them, though they seem 
to be little affected with the favours which we may have 
received, but lose aU patience if they seem indifferent about 
the injuries which may have been done to us ; nor are we 
half so angry with them for not entering into our gratitude, 
as for not sympathizing with our resentment. They can 
easily avoid being friends to our friends, but can hardly 
avoid being enemies to those with whom we are at variances. 
We seldom resent their being at enmity with the first^ 


9BCT. I.] OP PBOPKIETT, 13 

though, upon that account, we may sometimes affect to 
make an awkward quarrel with them ; but we quarrel with 
them in good earnest, if they live in friendship with the last. 
The agreeable passions of love and joy can satisfy and 
support the heart without any auxiliary pleasure. The 
bitter and painful emotions of grief and resentment more 
strongly require the healing consolation of sympathy. 

As the person who is principally interested in any event 
is pleased with our sympathy, and hurt by the want of it, 
so we, too, seem to be pleased when we are able to sym- 
pathize with him, and to be hurt when we are imable to do 
so. We run not only to congratulate the successful, but 
to condole with -the afflicted; and llie pleasure which we 
find in the conversation of one, whom in all the passions of 
his heart we can entirely sympathize with, seems to do more 
than compensate the painfulfiess of that sorrow with which 
the view of his situation affects us. On the contrary, it is 
always disagreeable to feel that we cannot sympathize with 
him ; and, instead of being pleased with this exemption from 
sympathetic pain, it hurts us to find that we cannot share 
his uneasiness. If we hear a person loudly lamenting his 
misfortunes, which, however, upon bringing the case home 
to ourselves, we feel, can produce no such violent effect 
upon us, we are shocked at his grief ; and, because we 
cannot enter into it, call it pusillanimity and weakness. It 
^ves us the spleen, on the other hand, to see another too 
happy, or too much elevated, as we call it, with any little piece 
of good fortune. We are disobliged even with his joy ; 
and, because we cannot go along with it, call it levity and 
folly. We are even put out of humour if our companion 
laughs louder or longer at a joke than we think it de- 
serves ; that is, than we feel that we ourselves could laugh 
at it 


14 jOV PBOiPBIBTr* [PAtiOl. i; 


CHAPTER IIL 

Cf the manmr m which we Judge of ihe Propriety or Impro- 
priety of ihe affedkms of other men^ htf Ikeir concord or 
dissonance with our own. 

When the origimd passioos of tk« person praicipalfy' 
eoBcerned are in perfect c<mcord with the Bjinpathetie 
emotioae of the speetator, they necessarily appear to this 
last just and proper, and suitable to their objects ; and, on 
i^e contrary^ when, upon bringing tiie case home to himseH^ 
he finds that they do not coincide wil^ what he feels, they 
necessarily appear to him unjust and improper, and unsuit- 
able to the causes which excite them. To approve of the 
passions o^ ano^r, therefore, as stntable to their objects, 
is the same thing as to observe that we entirely sympathize 
with them •; and not to approve of them as such, is the same 
thing as to observe that we do not entirely sympathize with 
them. The man who resents the injuries that have been 
done to me, and observes that I resent them precisely as 
he does, necessarily approves of my resentment. The man 
whose sympathy keeps time to my grief, cannot but admit 
the reasonableness of my sorrow. He who admires the 
same poem or the same picture, and admires them exactly 
as I do, must surely allow the justness of my admiration. 
He who laughs at the same joke, and laughs along with 
m^, cannot well deny the propriety of my laughter. On 
Hie contrary, the person who, upon these different occasions, 
either feels no such emotion as that which I feel, or feels 
none that bears any proportion to rainej cannot avoid dis-' 
approving my sentiments, on account of their dissonance' 
with his own. If my animosity goes beyond what the 
indignation of my friend can correspond to ; if my grief 


gBCr. I.] Off FBOntXETT. 16 


^eeeda wbat his most tender compMsioa t$ai g<> -ilo&g 
with ; if my admiiation is either too high or too low to taily 
with his own ; if I kagh load and hesrtily when he only 
smiles, or, oa the contrary, ooly smite when he ksghs loud 
and heartily; in all these cases, as soon as he eomes, from 
jBonfiideadng the object, to observe bow I am afiecled by it, 
•ooordii^ as there is more or less disproportion between his 
sentiments and mine, i must iacnr a greata* or less degree 
<^his diaspprebatiiHi.: and, upon all oeeasions, his own senti- 
ments are the standards and measures by which he judges 
of mine. 

To approve of anoter man's c^pbioas is ta adopt tiiose 
(^pkoons, and to adopt them is to a|^ove of them. If the 
same arguments whick eonvinee you, coflnrinee me likewue, 
I necessarily approve of 3^ur c(»ivicti(m ; and if they do 
not, I necessarily disi^ipxove of it ; meitber can I possibly 
eoneeive that I shotdd do the one without the other. To 
a|>f rave or disapprove, therefore, of the opinions of others 
is acknowledged, by every body, to mean no more thm to 
observe- their agreement or disagreement with our own. 
Bat this is equally llie ease with regard io our approbation 
ov disapprobation of the sentiments or passions of others. 

Th^re are^ indeed, some cases in which we seem to ap-- 
(iEOve, withojut any sympatiiy or correspondence of senti- 
vients; and in which, eonsequentiy, the sentiment of appro- 
bation would seem to be different frcmi the perception of 
this- coincidence. A littie attention, however, wiH convince 
us^ that even in these cases our approbation is ultimately' 
founded upon a sympathy or correspondence of this kind.' 
I shall give an instance in things of a very frivolous na-- 
twre, because in tiiem the judgments of mankind are loss 
apt. to be perverted by wrong systems. We may oftes 
approve -of a jesty and think the laughter of the company 
quite just and proper, though we ourselves do not laugh. 


16 OF PEOFKIETY. [PAET I. 

because,, perhaps, we are in a grave humour, or happen to 
have our attention engaged with other objects. We have 
learned, however, from experience, what sort of pleasantry 
is upon most occasions capable of making us laugh, and 
we observe that this is one of that kind. We approve, 
therefore, of the laughter of the company, and feel that it is 
natural and suitable to its object ; because, though in our 
present mood we cannot easily enter into it, we are sen- 
sible that upon most occasions we should very heartily join 
in it. 

The same thing often happens with regard to all the 
other passions. A stranger passes by us in the street with 
all the marks of the deepest affliction ; and we are imme^ 
diately told that he has just received the news of the death 
of his father. It is impossible that, in this case, we should 
not approve of his grief. Yet it may often happen, with- 
out any defect of humanity on our part, that, so far from 
entering into the violence of his sorrow, we should scarce 
conceive the first movements of concern upon his account. 
Both he and his father, perhaps, are entirely unknown to 
us, or we happen to be employed about other things, and 
do not take time to picture out in our imagination the 
different circumstances of distress which must occur to 
him. We have learned, however, from experience, that 
finch a mbfortune naturally excites such a degree of 
sorrow ; and we know that if we took time to consider hia 
situation fully, and in aU its parts, we should without doubt 
most sincerely sympathize with him. It is upon the con- 
sciousness of this conditional sympathy, that our approba- 
tion of his sorrow is founded, even in those cases in which 
that sympathy does not actually take place; and the general 
rules derived from our preceding experience of what our 
sentiments would commonly correspond with, correct, upon 
this, as upon many other occasions, the impropriety of our 
present emotions. 


S&CT. I.] OF PBOPBIETY. 17 

The sentiment or affection of the hearty firom which any 
action proceeds, and npon which its whole virtue or vice 
must ultimately depend, may he considered under two 
different aspects, or in two different relations ; first, in re- 
lation to the cause which excites it, or the motive which 
gives occasion to it ; and, secondly, in relation to the end 
which it proposes, or the effect which it tends to produce. 

In the suitableness or unsuitahleness, in the proportion 
or disproportion, which the affection seems to bear to the 
cause or object which excites it, consists the propriety or 
impropriety, the decency or ungracefiilness, of the conse- 
quent action. 

In the beneficial or hurtful nature of the effects which 
the affection aims at, or tends to produce, consists the 
merit or demerit of the action, the qualities by which it is 
entitled to reward, or is deserving of punishment. 

Philosopher have, of late years, considered chiefly the 
tendency of affections, and have given little attention to 
the relation which they stand in to the cause which excites 
them. In common life, however, when we judge of any 
person's conduct, and of the^entiments which directed it, 
we constantly consider them under both these aspects. 
When we blame in another man the excesses of love, of 
grief, of resentment, we not only consider the ruinous ef- 
fects which they tend to produce, but the little occasion 
which was given for them. The merit of his favourite, we 
say,' is not so great, his misfortune is not so dreadful, his 
provocation is not so extraordinary, as to justify so violent 
a passion. We should have indulged, we say, perhaps 
have approved of the violence of his emotion, had the cause 
been in any respect proportioned to it 

When we judge in this manner of any affection, as pro- 

c 


18 


.07 ntOPBSETT*. 


{PA&T% 


fortiimoi*or<tlifiprb{M>rti^^ the etaam which. eneiteB'it, 
it 18 scarce possible that we should make uae of aa^ otJiep 
ffvle or caaon but the eorrespondeat affebtion in ovrseivee. 
Jf, upon bdngiag tiie ease home to our own hreaat, we 
tad ^at the «entimeiit0 whieh it gives eeeaskm to coki? 
jade aad taller with our own, we neceasarily a][^roTe g{ 
them, as proportiozied and suitable to idieir objects; i^ 
otherwise, we necessarily disapprove of them, as extrava- 
^aat aiad'OTSt of propcolMiBi. 

Every &Miuity ia one man is the m^umre hy whieh he 
judges of the like iacuhy in anothec I judge «f yont 
sight by my sight, of your ear by my ear, of. yo«r reas^ 
by my reason, of your resentment by my resentment, of 
your love by my love. I sieiiliier hietve, nor oaa bai^ any 
other way of jtidgiag about tiiem. 


6ECT. I.] . OPPKOWtUffn. 19 


CHAPTER IV. 

ifie same subject continued, 

' We may judge of (he propriety or impropriety of the 
sentiments of another person by their correspondence or 
disagreement with our own, upon two different occasions; 
either, first, when the objects which excite them are con- 
sidered without any peculiar relation, either to ourselves or 
to the person whose sentiments we judge of; or, secondly, 
when they are considered as peculiarly affecting one or 
o&er of us. 

9 

1. "With regard to those objects which are considered 
without any peculiar relation either to ourselves or to the 
person whose sentiments we judge of; wherever his senti- 
ments entirely correspond with our own, we ascribe to him 
the qualities of taste and good judgment The beauty of a 
plain, the greatness of a mountain, the ornaments of a building, 
tiie expression of a picture, the composition of a discourse, 
the conduct of a third person, the proportions of different 
qnanlaties and numbers, the various appearances which the 
great machine of the universe is perpetually exhibiting, 
with die secret wheels and springs which produce them ; 
an iSke general subjects of science and taste, are what we 
and our companions regard as having no peculiar relation 
to eiflier of us. We both look at them from the same point 
of view, and we have no occasion for sympathy, or for that 
imaginary change of situations from which it arises, in or- 
der to produce, with regard to these, the most perfect har- 
mony of sentiments and affections. If, notwithstanding, 
▼e are often differently affected, it arises either from the 
different degrees of attention which our different habits of 


20 OP PBOPBIETY. [part I. 

life allow as to give easily to tbe several parts of those 
complex objects, or from the different degrees of natural 
acuteness in the faculty of the mind to which they are ad- 
dressed. 

When the sentiments of our companion coincide with our 
own in things of this kind, which are obvious and easy, and 
in which, perhaps, we never found a single person who dif« 
fered from us, though we, no doubt, must approve of them, 
yet he seems to deserve no praise or admiration on account 
of them. But when they not only coincide with our own, 
but lead and direct our own ; when, in forming them, he ap- 
pears to have attended to many things which we had over- 
looked, and to have adjusted them to all the various cir- 
cumstances of their objects ; we not only approve of them, 
but wonder and are surprised at their uncommon and unex- 
pected acuteness and comprehensiveness, and he appears to 
deserve a very high degree of admiration and applause* 
For approbation heightened by wonder and surprise, con- 
stitutes the sentiment which is properly called admiration, 
and of which applause is the natural expression. The de- 
cision of the man who judges that exquisite beauty is pre- 
ferable to the grossest deformity, or that twice two are equal 
to four, must certainly be approved of by all the world, but 
will not, surely, be much admired. It is the acute and de- 
licate discernment of the man of taste, who distinguishes 
the minute, and scarce perceptible differences of beauty 
and deformity ; it is the comprehensive accuracy of the ex- 
perienced mathematician, who unravels with ease the most 
intricate and perplexed proportions ; it is the great leader in 
science and taste, the man who directs and conducts our own 
sentiments, the extent and superior justness of whose talents 
astonish us with wonder and surprise, who excites our ad- 
miration, and seems to deserve our applause ; and upon thia 
foundation is grounded the greater part of the praise which 
is bestowed upon what are called the intellectual virtues* 


mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm 


BECT. I.J OF PROPBIETT. 21 

. The utility of these qualities, it may be thought, is what 
first recommends them to us ; and, no doubt, the considera- 
tion of this, when we come to attend to it, gives them a new 
value. Originally, however, we approve of another man's 
judgment, not as something useful, but as right, as accu- 
rate, as agreeable to truth and reality ; and it is evident we 
attribute those qiialities to it for no other reason but because 
we £nd that it agrees with our own. Taste, in the same 
manner, is originally approved of, not as useful, but as just, 
as delicate, and as precisely suited to its object The idea 
of the utility of all qualities of this kind is plainly an after- 
thought, and not what first recommends them to our appro* 
bation. 

2. With regard to those objects, which affect in a parti- 
cular manner either ourselves or the person whose senti- 
ments we judge of, it is at once more difficult to preserve 
this harmony and correspondence, and, at the same time, 
vastly more important My companion does not naturally 
look upon the misfortune that has befallen me, or the injuiy 
that has been done me, from the same point of view in 
which I consider them. They affect me much more nearly. 
We do not view them from the same station, as we do a 
picture, or a poem, or a system of philosophy ; and are there- 
fore apt to be very differently affected by them. But I can 
much more easily overlook the want of this correspondence 
of sentiments with regard to such indifferent objects as 
concern neither me nor my companion, than with regard 
to what interests me so much as the misfortune that has 
brfallen me, or the injury that has been done me. Though 
you despise that picture, or that poem, or even that system 
of philosophy which I admire, there is little danger of our 
quarrelling upon that account. Neither of us can reason- 
ably be much interested about them. They ought all of 
them to be matters of great indifference to us both ; so 
ihat, though our opinions may be opposite, our affections 


OP WtOPBIETY. [PABT H 

maj still be yeiy nearly the same* But it is quite other- 
wise with regard to those objects by wbieh either yon or 
I are particularly affected. Though yo<ar judgments in 
matters of speculation, though your sentiments in matters 
of taste, axe quite opposite to mine, I can easily overlook 
this opposition ; and if I have any degree of temper, I may 
still find some entertainment m your conversation, even 
upon those very subjects. But if you have either no 
fellow-feeling for the misfortunes I have met with, or none 
that bears any proportion to the grief which distracts me ; 
or if you have either no indignation at the injuries I have 
suffered, or none that bears any proportion to the resent^ 
ment which transports me, we can no longer converse upon 
these subjects. We become intolerable to one another. I 
can neither support your company, nor you mine. You 
are confounded at my violence and passion, and I am en^ 
raged at your cold insensibility and want of feeling. 

In all such cases, that there may be some correspondence 
of sentiments between the spectator and the person princi- 
pally concerned, the spectator must, first of all, endeavour 
as much as he can to put himself in the situation of the 
other, and to bring home to himself eveiy little circum- 
stance of distress which can possibly occur to the sufferer* 
He must adopt the whole case of his companion, with 'nH 
its minutest incidents ; and strive to render as perfect as 
possible that imaginary change of situation upon which 
his sympathy is founded. 

After all this, however, the emotions of the spectatot 
will still be very apt to fall short of the violence of what ia 
felt by the sufferer. Mankind, though naturaHy sympathetic,' 
never conceive, for what has befallen another, that degree 
of passion which naturaUy animates the person principally 
eoncemed. That imaginary change of situation, upon 
which their sympathy is founded, is but momentary. Tlie 


SUECT. I J OF PROTBIBTT. 9$ 

tboQght of theif own safety, the ihoui^ Hiat they dMii^ 
aelves ace not really the 8u£Eevei% ccmtmually mtnidea it^ 
self upon th^n; aad though it doe^ noA hinder tliem fronk 
coneemng a passion somewhat anakgons to what is felt 
hy the si^erer, hindfizs them from oonceiving any tlnng 
that af^roaehes to the same degi«e of violence. Hie per« 
son pnncipally concerned is sensilde 61 this^ and at the- 
same time passionaiteiy desires a more cesnpiete sympathy* 
He longs for that relief which nothiftg ean afford him hat 
the entire e<nieoird of the affections of the spectators with 
hifl own. To see the emotions of their hearts in erery re* 
gpect heat time to his own, in the yxolent and disagreealde 
passions^ eonstitales his sole eonsoiation. But he can only 
hope to obtain this by lowering his pas»ion to that piteh^ 
in whiehthe spectators are capable of going along with him. 
He must flatten, if I may be allowed to say sb^ the sharp*^ 
ness of its natural tone, in order to reduce it to harmony 
aikd concord with the emotions of those who are about him. 
What they feel will, indeed, always he. in bosda reapeets' 
different from what he feek, and compassion ean never be 
exactly tiie same with original sorrow ; because the aecmt^ 
consciousness that the change of aitoations, from which the 
sympathetic sentiment arises, is but imaginary, not only 
lowers it ia degree, but in some measure varies it in kind, 
and gives it a quite different modification. . These two 
sentiments, however, may,, iiis evident, haise sneh a eoire^ 
spondence with one another, as is suffieiflfntfor the harmony 
of society. Thoi]^ they will never be unisons, they may 
be concords, and this* is all that is wsanted or required* 

In Gtdtr to produce this coneord, as aatore teaohes the^ 
speetators to assume the ebcumatances-olthe person piinci- 
pally eoncemed, so she teaches this last in some measure 
ta aseume thoaa of the spectators. As they are continually 
pkueing themselves in his situation, itad thence eonceivii^' 
emotiiQiis simihir to what he fecslsf »>he is as eenstantljr 


24 OF PBOPBIETT. [PART I, 

placing lumself in theirs, and thence conceiving some degree 
of that coolness about his own fortune, with which he is 
sensible that they will view it. As they are constantly 
considering what they themselves would feel, if they actually 
were the sufferers, so he is constantly led to imagine in 
what manner he would be affected if he was only one of 
the spectators of his own situation. As their sympathy 
makes them look at it in some measure with his eyes, so 
his sympathy makes him look at it, in some measure, with 
theirs, especially when in their presence, and acting under 
their observation : and, as the reflected passion which he 
thus conceives is much weaker than the original one, it 
necessarily abates the violence of what he felt before he 
came into their presence, before he began to recollect in 
what manner they would be affected by it, and to view his 
situation in this candid and impartial light. 

The mind, therefore, is rarely so disturbed, but that the 
company of a friend will restore it to some degree of tran- 
quillity and sedateness. The breast is, in some measure, 
calmed and composed the moment we come into his pre- 
sence. We are immediately put in mind of the light in 
which he will view our situation, and we begin to view it 
ourselves in the same light ; for the effect of sympathy is 
instantaneous. We expect less sympathy from a common 
acquaintance than from a friend ; we cannot open to the 
former all those little circumstances which we can unfold 
to the latter ; we assume, therefore, more tranquillity be- 
fore him, and endeavour to fix our thoughts upon those 
general outlines of our situation which he is willing to 
consider. We expect still less sympathy from an assembly 
of strangers, and we assimie, therefore, still more tran- / 
quillity before them, and always endeavour to bring down 
our passion to that pitch, which the particular company we 
are in may be expected to go along with. Nor is thig 
only an assumed appearance ; for if we are at all masters 


SECT. I.] OF FBOFBIBTY. 25 

of ourselves, the presence of a mere acquaintance will really 
compose us, still more than that of a friend ; and that of an 
assembly of strangers, still more than that of an acquaint- 
ance. 

Society and conversation, therefore, are the most powerful 
remedies for restoring the mind to its tranquillity, i^ at any 
time, it has unfortunately lost it ; as well as the best pre- 
servatives of that equal and happy temper, which is so 
necessary to self-satisfEiction and enjoyment. Men of re- 
tirement and speculation, who are apt to sit brooding at 
home over either grief or resentment, though they may 
often have more humanity, more generosity, and a nicer 
sense of honour, yet seldom possess that equality of temper 
which is so common among men of the world. 






t6 opPBontiBTr. [faAti.< 


CHAPTER V. 

Of the amiable and respectable Virtues, 

Upon these two diflferent efforts, upon that of the • spec- 
tator to enter mto the sentiments of the person principally 
concerned, and upon that of the person principally concern-' 
ed, to bring down his emotions to what the spectator can go 
along with, are founded two different sets of virtnes. The 
soft, the gentle, the amiable virtues, the virtues of can£<I 
condescension and indulgent humanity, are founded upon' 
the one : the great, the awful, and respectable, the virtues 
of self- denial, of self-govetnment, of that command of th^ 
passions which subjects all the movements of our nature to 
f^hat our own dignity and honour, and the propriety of our 
own conduct, require, take their origin from the other. 

How amiable does he appear to be, whose sympathetic 
heart seems to re-echo all the sentiments of those with whom 
he converses, who grieves for their calamities, who resents 
their injuries, and who rejoices at their good fortune? 
When we bring home to ourselves the situation of his com- 
panions, we enter into their gratitude, and feel what con- 
solation they must derive from the tender sympathy of so 
affectionate a friend. And, for a contrary reason, how dis- 
agreeable does he appear to be, whose hard and obdurate 
heart feels for himself only, but is altogether insensible to 
the happiness or misery of others ! We enter, in this case 
too, into the pain which his presence must give to every 
mortal with whom he converses, to those especially with 
whom we are most apt to sympathize, the unfortunate and 
the injured. 

On the other hand, what noble propriety and grace do we 


SECT. I.] OP PKOPRIETT. 27 

feel in the conduct of those wbo, in thexr own case, exert 
that recollection and self-command which constitute the 
dignity of every passion, and which bring it down to what 
others can enter into ? We are disgusted with that clamo- 
rous grief, which, without any delicacy, calls upon our com- 
passion witii sighs and tears, and importunate lamentations. 
But we reverence that reserved, that silent and majestie 
sorrow, which discovers itself only in the swelling of the 
eyes, in the quivering of the lips and cheeks, and in the 
distant, but affecting, coldness of the whole behaviour. 
It imposes the like silence upon us. We regard it with 
respectful attention, and watch with anxious concern over 
our whole behaviour, lest by any impropriety we should 
disturb that concerted tranquillity, which it requires so 
great an effort to support. 

The insolence and brutality of anger, in the same man- 
ner, when we indulge its fury without check or restraint, is, 
of aU objects, the most detestable. But we admire that 
noble and generous resentment which governs its pursuit 
of the greatest injuries, not by the rage which they are apt 
to excite in the breast of the sufferer, but by the indigna- 
ta<»i which they naturally call forth in that of the impartial 
qieetator; which allows no word, no gesture, to escape it 
beyond what this more equitable sentiment would dictate ;' 
which never, even in thought, attempts any greater ven- 
geance, nor desires to inflict any greater punishment, than 
whiat every indifferent person would rejoice to see executed. 

And hence it is, that to feel much for others, and little 
for ourselves^ that to restrain our selfish, and to indulge 
our b^ievolent, affections, constitutes the perfection of hu- 
man nature ; and can alone produce among mankind that 
harmony of sentiments and passions in which consists their 
whole graee and propriety. As to love our neighbour as 
we love ourselves i^ the great law of Ghristiamty, so it 


2S OF PBOPBIETT. [PART I. 

is the great precept of nature to love ourselves only as we 
love our neighbour, or, what comes to the same Uiing, as 
our neighbour is capable of loving us. 

As taste and good judgment, when they are considered 
as qualities which deserve praise and admiration, are sup- 
posed to imply a delicacy of sentiment and an acuteness of 
understanding not commonly to be met with ; so the virtues 
of sensibility and self-command are not apprehended to 
consist in the ordinary, but in the uncommon degrees of 
those qualities. The amiable virtue of humanity requires, 
surely, a sensibility much beyond what is possessed by the 
rude vulgar of mankind. The great and exalted virtue of 
magnanimity undoubtedly demands much more than that 
degree of self-command, which the weakest of mortals is 
capable of exerting. As in the common degree of the in- 
tellectual qualities, there are no abilities ; so in the common 
degree of the moral, there is no virtue. Virtue is ex- 
cellencCi something uncommonly great and beautiful, which 
rises far above what is vulgar and ordinary. The amiable 
virtues consist in that degree of sensibility which surprises 
by its exquisite and unexpected delicacy and tenderness. 
The awful and respectable, in that degree of self-command 
which astonishes by its amazing superiority over the most 
ungovernable passions of human nature. 

There is, in this respect, a considerable difference be- 
tween virtue and mere propriety ; between those qualities 
and actions which deserve to be admired and celebrated, 
and those which simply deserve to be approved of. Upon 
many occasions, to act with the most perfect propriety, re- 
quires no more than that common and ordinary degree of 
sensibility or self-command which the most worthless of 
mankind are possessed of, and sometimes even that degree 
is not necessary. Thus, to give a very low instance, to eat 
when we are hungry, is certainly, upon ordinary occasions. 


SECT. I.] OP PBOFBIETY* 29 

perfectly right, and proper, and cannot miss being approved 
of as such by eyery body. Nothing, however, could be 
more, absurd than to say it was virtuous*. 

On the contrary, there may frequently be a considerable 
degree of virtue in those actions which fall short of the 
most perfect propriety ; because they may still approach 
Bearer to perfection than could well be expected upon oc-^ 
^sasions in which it was so extremely difficult to attain it t 
and this is very often the case upon those occasions which 
require the greatest exertions of self-command. There are 
fipme situations which bear so hard upon human nature, 
that the greatest degree of self*govenunent, which can 
belong to so imperfect a creature as man, is not able to 
stifle, altogether, the voice of human weaikness, or reduce 
the violence of the passions to that pitch of moderation, in 
which the impartial spectator can entirely enter into them. 
Though in those cases, therefore, the behaviour of the suf- 
ferer fall short of the most perfect propriety, it may still 
deserve some applause, and even, in a certain sense, may 
be denominated virtuous. It may still manifest aaeflfort of 
generosity and magnanimity of which the greater part of 
men are incapable ; and though it fails of absolute perfec- 
tion, it may be a much nearer approximation towards per- 
fection, than what, upon such trying occasions, is common- 
ly either to be found or to be expected. 

In cases of this kind, when we are determining the de- 
gree of blame or applause which seems due to any action, we 
very frequently make use of two different standards. 
The first is the idea of complete propriety and perfection, 
which, in those difficult situations, no human conduct ever 
did, or ever can, come up to ; and in comparison with which 
the actions of all men must for ever appear blameable and 
imperfect. The second is the idea of that degree of proxi- 
mity or distance from this complete perfection, which the 


<S0 or FftOPKiETT. [part I. 

aetknui of &e greater part of mea ^ommonlj arrive at 
Whatever goea beyond this degree, how far soever it may 
be removed from absolute peifeetion, se^s to deserve ap- 
plause ; and whatever falls short of it, to deserve blame. 

It is hi Ae same manner that we judge of the pioduetioiis 
of aH i^ arts wkidi address themselves to the imagmat»». 
^ When « critiB ezamiaes the work <^ any of &e great mas- 
ters in poetry or paintmg, he may sometimes exaanne it hj 
an idea of petfeetion, in his own mind, which neilSier that 
Bor any other human work wiil ever oome up to ; and as 
long as he oompcres it with tiiis standard, he ean see no- 
thing in it but &idts and imperfections. But wben he 
comes to consider the rasik which it ought to hold among 
other works of <3ie sane kind, he necessarily •compares it 
with a Tory d^erent steward, the common degree of ex* 
oeiience which is usually attained in l&is particular art; 
and when he judgesof it by tikis new measure, it may oftea 
appear to desenne the Hghest apf^use, upon account of 
its appeoadiiag nmck neai?er to ^^edlon ^n the greater 
part of iJiosewofics wUcfaoan be brought into competiticai 
with rt» 


aascT. n.] of raoPBiETX'i 81 


SBCTIOlf n. 

OF THE DEGREES OF THE DIFFERENT PASSIONS WHICH 
ARE CONSISTENT WITH PROPRIETY, 


INTRODUCTION. 

The propriety of every passion excited by objects 
peculiarly related to ourselves, the pitch which the specta- 
tor can go along with, must lie, it is evident, in a certain 
mediocrity. If the passion is too high, or if it is too low, 
he cannot enter into it Grief and resentment for private 
misfortunes and injuries may easily, for example, be too 
high, and in the greater part of mankind they are so. They 
may likewise, though this more rarely happen^, be too low. 
We denominate the excess, weakness and fury : and we 
call the defect, stupidity, insensibility, and want of spirit. 
We can enter into neither of them, but are astonished and 
confounded to see them. 

This mediocrity, however, in which the point of propriety 
consiflts, is different in different passions. It is high in 
some, and low in others. There are some passions which 
it is indecent to express very strongly, even upon those oc- 
casions in which it is acknowledged that we cantfot avoid 
feeling them in the highest degree. And there are others 
of which the strongest expressions are upon many occa- 
sioxuf extremely graceful, even though the passions them- 
selves do not, perhaps, arise so necessarily. The first are 
those passions with which, for certain reasons, there is little 


JW 


OP PROPRIETY. 


[PART I, 


or no sjinpathy : the second are those with which, for other 
reasons, there is the greatest. And if we consider all the 
different passions of human nature, we shall find that they 
are regarded as decent or indecent, just in proportion as man- 
kind are more or less disposed to sympathize with them. 


«i 


SECT. U.J OF PBOFRIETT. 3S 


CHAPTER I. 

Of the Passions which take their origin from the Body, 

1. It is indecent to express any strong degree of those 
passions which arise from a certain situation or disposition 
of the body ; because the company, not being in the same 
disposition, cannot be expected to sympathize with them. 
Violent hunger, for example, though upon many occasions 
not only natural, but unavoidable, is always indecent ; and 
to eat voraciously is universally regarded as a piece of ill 
manners. There is, however, some degree of sympathy, 
even with hunger. It is agreeable to see our companions 
eat with a good appetite, and all expressions of loathing are 
offensive. The disposition of body which is habitual to a 
man in health, makes his stomach easily keep time, if I 
may be allowed so coarse an expression, with the one, and 
not with the other. We can sympathize with the distress 
which excessive hunger occasions, when we read the de- 
scription of it in the journal of a siege, or of a sea- voyage. 
We imagine ourselves in the situation of the sufferers, and 
thence readily conceive the grief, the fear, and consterna- 
tion, which must necessarily distract them. We feel, our- 
selves, some degree of those passions, and therefore sym- 
pathize with them : but as we do not grow hungry by read- 
ing the description, we cannot properly, even in this case, 
be said to sympathize with their hunger. 

It is the same case with the passion by which nature 
unites the two sexes.' Though naturally the most furious 
of all the passions, all strong expressions of it are upon 
every occasion indecent, even between persons in whom 
its most complete indulgence is acknowledged by all laws, 
both human and divine, to bo perfectly innocent. There 


84 OF PBOFBIETY. f PART L 

seems, however, to be some degree of sympathy even with 
this passion. To talk to a woman as we should to a man is 
improper : it is expected that their company should inspire 
us with more gaiety, more pleasantry, and more attention ; 
and an entire insensibility to the fair sex renders a man 
contemptible in some measure even to the men. 

Such is our aversion for all the appetites which take their 
. origin from the body : all strong expressions of them are 
loathsome and disagreeable. According to some ancient 
philosophers, these are the passions which we share in com- 
mon with the brutes, and which having no connection with 
the characteristical qualities of human nature, are upon that 
account beneath its dignity. But there are many other 
passions which we share in common with the brutes, such 
as resentment, natural affection, even gratitude, which do 
not, upon that account, appear to be so brutal. The true 
cause of the peculiar disgust which we conceive for the 
appetites of the body when we see them in other men, is, 
that we cannot enter into them. To the person himself who 
feels them, as soon as they are gratified, the object that 
excited them ceases to be agreeable : even its presence often 
becomes offensive to him ; he looks round to no purpose for 
the charm which transported him the moment before, and 
he can now as little enter into his own passion as another 
person. When we have dined, we order the covers to be 
removed; and we should treat in the same manner the ob- 
jects of the most ardent and passionate desires, if they were 
the objects of no other passions but those which take their 
origin from the body. 

In the command of those appetites of the body consists 
that virtue which is properly called temperance. To re- 
strain them within those bounds, which regard to health 
and fortune prescribes, is the part of prudence. But to 


SECT, n.] OP PROPRIETT. S5 

confine them within those limits, which grace, which pro- 
priety, which delicacy, and modesty, require, is the office 
of temperance. 

2. It is for the same reason that to cry out with hodily 
pain, how intolerable soever, appears always unmanly and 
unbecoming. There is, however, a good deal of sympathy 
even with bodily pain. If^ as has already been observed, 
I see a stroke aimed, and just ready to fall upon the leg or 
arm of another person, I naturally shrink and draw back 
my own leg or my own arm : and when it does fall, I feel 
it in some measure, and am hurt by it aS well as the suf- 
ferer. My hurt, however, is, no doubt, excessively slight, 
and, upon that account, if he makes any violent outcry, as 
I cannot go along with him, I never fail to despise him. 
And this is the case of all the passions which take their 
origin from the body : they excite either no sympathy at all, 
or such a degree of it, as is altogether disproportioned to 
the violence of what is felt by the suflferer. 

It is quite otherwise with those passions which take 
their origin from the imagination. The frame of my bodjr 
can be but little affected by the alteratioiis which are 
brought about upon that of my companion ; but my imagi' 
nation is more ductile, and more readily assumes, if I may 
say so, the shape and configuration of the hnaginations 6f 
those with whom I am familiar^ A disa^pomtmenf in 
love, or ambition, will, upon this account, xsadl forth moii^ 
sjrmpathy than the greatest bodily evil. Those passion]^ 
arise altogether from the imagination. The person who 
•has lost his whole fortune, if he is in health, feels nothing 
in his body. What he suffer^ is from the imaginatioii 
only, which represents to him the loss of his dignity, lie- 
gleet from his friends, contempt from his enemies, depen- 
dence, want, and misery, coming fast upon him ; and we 
sympathize with him more strongly upon this account, be- 


36 OP PBOPRIETY. [part I. 

cause our imaginations can more readily mould themselves 
upon his imagination, than our bodies can mould them- 
selves upon his body. 

The loss of a leg may generally be regarded as a more 
real calamity than the loss of a mistress. It would be a 
ridiculous tragedy, however, of which the catastrophe was 
to turn upon a loss of that kind. A misfortune of the other 
kind, how frivolous soever it may appear to be, has given 
occasion to many a fine one. 

Nothing is so soon forgot as pain. The moment it is 
gone, the whole agony of it is over, and the thought of it 
can no longer give us any sort of disturbance. "We our- 
selves cannot then enter into the anxiety and anguish 
which we had before conceived. An unguarded word from 
a friend will occasion a more durable uneasiness. The 
agony which this creates is by no means over with the 
word. What at first disturbs us is not the object of the 
senses, but the idea of the imagination. As it is an idea, 
therefore, which occasions our uneasiness, till time and 
other accidents have in some measure effaced it from our 
memory, the imagination continues to fret and riankle 
within, from the thought of it. 

Pain never calls forth any very lively synipathy, unless 
it is accompanied with danger. We sympathize with the 
fear, though not with the agony, of the sufferer. Fear, 
however, is a passion derived altogether from the imagina- 
tion, which represents, with an uncertainty and fluctuation 
that increases our anxiety, not what we really feel, but what- 
we may hereafter possibly suffer. The gout or the tooth: 
ache, though exquisitely painful, excite very little sympa- 
thy; more dangerous diseases, though accompanied with 
very little pain, excite the highest. 


SECT, n.] OF PROPRnrTY, 37 

Some people faint and grow sick at the eight of a chirnr* 
gical operation ; and that bodily pain which is occasioned 
by tearing the flesh, seems, in them, to excite the most ex- 
cessive sympathy. We conceive in a much more lively 
and distinct manner the pain which proceeds from an ex- 
ternal cause, than we do that which arises from an internal 
disorder. I can scarce form an idea of the agonies of my 
neighbour when he is tortured with the gout, or the 
stone ; but I have the clearest conception of what he must 
suffer from an incision, a wound, or a fracture. The chief 
cause, however, why such objects produce such violent 
effects upon us, is their novelty. One who has been witness 
to a dozen dissections, and as many amputations, sees, 
ever after, all operations of this kind with great indiffer- 
ence, and often with perfect insensibility. Though we have 
read, or seen represented, more than Ave hundred tragedies, 
we shall seldom feel so entire an abatement of our sensibilily 
to the objects which they represent to us. 

In some of the. Greek tragedies there is an attempt to 
excite compassion, by the representation of the agonies of 
bodily pain. Philoctetes cries out and faints from the ex- 
tremity of his sufferings. Hippolytus and Hercules are 
both introduced as expiring under the severest tortures, 
which it seems, even the fortitude of Hercules was inca- 
pable of supporting. In all these cases, however, it is not 
the pain which interests us, but some other circumstance. 
It is not the sore foot, but the solitude of Philoctetes which 
affects us, and difiuses over that charming tragedy, that 
romantic wildness, which is so agreeable to the imagina- 
tion. The agonies of Hercules and Hippolytus are interest- 
ing only because we foresee that death is to be the conse- 
quence. If those heroes were to recover, we should think 
tiie representation of their sufferings perfectly ridiculous. 
What a tragedy would that be, of which the distress consisted 
in a colic I Yet no pain is more exquisite. These attempts 


I 


88 OF FBOFBXKrr. [past I* 

to Excite compassion bj the representation of bodily pain, may 
be regarded as among the greatest breaches of decorum of 
which the Greek theatre has set the example. 

The little sympathy which we feel with bodily pain is 
the foundation of the propriety of constancy and patience 
in enduring it* The man who under the severest tortures, 
allows no weakness to escape him, vents no groan, gives 
way to no passion which we do not entirely enter into, 
commands our highest admiration. His firmness enables 
him to keep time with our indifference and insensibility. 
We admire and entirely go along with the magnanimous 
effort which he makes for this purpose. We approve of 
his behaviour, and. from our experience of the common 
weaknee|s of humau/nature, we are surprised, and wonder 
how he should be able to act so as to deserve approbation. 
Approbation mixfsd and animated by wonder and surprise, 
constitutes the sentiment which is properly called admira* 
tion, of which applause is the natural expression, as has 
already been observed. 


SECT. U.] OF PROPRIETY. 89 


CHAPTER II. 

Of those Passions which take their origin from a particular 
turn or habit of the Imagination. 

Eten of the passions derived from the imagination, fhoso 
which take their origin from a peculiar turn or habit it has 
acquired, though they may be acknowledged to he perfectly 
natural, are, however, but little sympathized with. The 
imaginations of mankind, not having acquired that parti- 
cular turn, cannot enter into them; and such passions, 
though they may he allowed to he almost imavoidahle in 
some part of life, are always in some measure ridiculous. 
This is the case with that strong attachment which naturally 
grows up between two persons of different sexes, who have 
long fixed their thoughts upon one another. Our imagina- 
tion not having run in the same channel with that of the 
lover, we cannot enter into the eagerness of his emotions. 
J£ our Mend has been injured, we readily sympathize with 
his resentment, and grow angry with the very person with 
whom he is angry. If he has received a benefit, we readily 
enter into his gratitude, and have a very high sense of the 
merit of his benefactor. But if he is in love, though we 
may think his passion just as reasonable as any of the kind, 
yet we never think ourselves bound to conceive a passion 
of the same kind, and for the same person for whom he has 
conceived it. The passion appears to every body, but the 
man who feels it, entirely disproportioned to the value of 
the object ; and love, though it is pardoned in a certain age, 
because we know it is natural, is always laughed at, be- 
cause we cannot enter into it. All serious and strong ex- 
pressions of it appear ridiculous to a third person ; and 
though a lover may be good company to his mistress, he is 
so to nobody else. He himself is sensible of this ; and as 


40 OP PROPRIETY. [part I. 

long as lie continues in his sober senses, endeavours to 
treat his own passion with railery and ridicule. It is the 
only style in which we care to hear of it ; because it is the 
only style in which we ourselves are disposed to talk of it. 
We grow weary of the grave, pedantic, and long-sentenced 
love of Cowley and Petrarca, who never have done with 
exaggerating the violence of their attachments; but the 
gaiety of Ovid, and the gallantry of Horace, are always 
agreeable. 

But though we feel no proper sympathy with an attach- 
ment of this kind, though we never approach even in ima- 
gination towards conceiving a passion for that particular 
person, yet as we either have conceived, or may be dispos- 
ed to conceive, passions of the same kind, we readily enter 
into those high hopes of happiness which are proposed 
firom its gratification, as well as into that exquisite distress 
which is feared from its disappointment. It interests us 
not as a passion, but as a situation that gives occasion to 
other passions which interest us ; to hope, to fear, and to 
distress of every kind : in the same manner as in a descrip- 
tion of a sea voyage, it is not the hunger which interests us, 
but the distress which that hunger occasions. Though we 
do not properly enter into the attachment of the lover, we 
readily go along with those expectations of romantic hap- 
piness which he derives from it. We feel how natural it 
is for the mind, in a certain situation, relaxed with indo- 
lence, and fatigued with the violence of desire, to long for 
serenity and quiet, to hope to find them in the gratification 
of that passion which distracts it, and to frame to itself the 
idea of that life of pastoral tranquillity and retirement 
which the elegant, the tender, and the passionate Tibullus 
takes so much pleasure in describing ; a life like what the 
poets describe in the Fortunate islands, a life of friendship, 
liberty, and repose ; free from labour, and from care, and 
from all the turbulent passions which attend them. Eyea 


SECT, n.] OF PBOFBIETr. 41 

scenes of this kind interest us most, when they are painted 
rather as what is hoped, than as what is enjojed. The 
grossness of that passion, which mixes with, and is, per* 
haps, the foundation of love, disappears when its gratifica* 
tion is far off and at a distance ; but renders the whole 
offensive, when described as what is immediately possess- 
ed. The happy passion, upon this account, interests us 
much less than the fearful and the melancholy. We 
tremble for whatever can disappoint such natural and agree- 
able hopes ; and thus enter into all the anxietyy and concern, 
and distress, of the lover. 

Hence it is, that, in some modem tragedies and romances, 
this passion appears so wonderfully interesting. It is not 
so much the love of Gastalia and Monimia which attaches 
us in the Orphan, as the distress which that love occasions* 
The author who should introduce two lovers, in a scene of 
perfect security, expressing their mutual fondness for one 
another, would excite laughter, and not sympathy. If a 
scene of this kind is ever admitted into a tragedy, it is 
always, in some measure, improper, and is endured, not 
from any sympathy with the passion that is expressed in it, 
but from concern for the dangers and difficulties with which 
the audience foresee that its gratification is likely to be 
attended. 

The reserve which the laws of society impose upon the 
fair sex, with regard to this weakness, renders it more pe- 
culiarly distressful in them, knd, upon that very account, 
more deeply interesting. We are charmed with the love 
of Phaedra, as it is expressed in the French tragedy of that 
name, notwithstanding all the extravagance and guilt which 
attend it. That very extravagance and guilt may be said, 
in some measure, to recommend it to us. Her fear, her 
shame, her remorse, her horror, her despair, become thereby 
more natural and interesting. All the secondary passionSp^ 


42 OF PBOVBICTY. [PAST I. 

if I may be allowed to call tliem bo, wMch arise from the 
situation of love^ become necessarily more fiirious and 
yioleut f and it is with these secondary passions only that 
we can properly be said to sympathize. 

Of all the passions, however, which are so extravagantly 
disproportioned to the value of their objects, love is the 
only one that appears, even to the weakest minds, to have 
any thing in it that is either graceful or agreeable. In it« 
selfj first of all, though it may be ridiculous, it is not na- 
turally odious ; and though its consequences are often fatal 
and dreadful, its intentions are seldom mischievous. And 
then, though there is little propriety in the passion itself, 
there is a good deal in some pf those which always accom- 
pany it. There is in love a strong mixture of humanity, 
generosity, kindness, Mendship, esteem; passions with 
which, of all others, for reasons which shall be explained 
immediately, we have the greatest propensity to sympa- 
thize, even notwithstanding we are sensible that they are, 
in some measure, excessive. The sympathy which we feel 
with them, renders the passion which they accompany less 
disagreeable, and supports it in our imagination, notwith- 
standing all the vices which commonly go along with it ; 
though in the one sex it necessarily leads to the last ruin 
and infamy ; and though in the other, where it is appre- 
hended to be least fatal, it is almost always attended with 
an incapacity for labour, a neglect of duty, a contempt of 
fame, and even of common reputation. Notwithstanding 
all this, the degree of sensibility and generosity with which 
it is supposed to be accompanied, renders it to many the 
object of Tanity ; and they are fond of appearing ci^ble of 
feeling what would do them no honour if they had really 
felt it. 

It is for a reason of the same kind, that a certain reserve 
is necessary wh^ we talk of our own Mends, our own 


SSeT. n.] OF PROFKIBTT. 48 

studies, our own professions. All these are objects which 
we cannot expect should interest our companions in the 
same degree in which they interest us. And it is for want 
of this reserve, that the one half of mankind make bad 
company to the other. A philosopher is company to a 
philosopher only ; the member of a club to his own little knot 
of companions. 


44 OF PROPRUETT. [PART X. 


CHAPTER IlL 

Of the unsocial Passions, 

There is another set of passions, which, though derived 
from the imagination, yet before we can enter into them, or 
regard them as gracefiil or becoming, must always be 
brought down to a pitch much lower than that to which 
undisciplined nature would raise them. These are, hatred 
and resentment, with all their different modifications. With 
regard to all such passions, our sympathy is divided between 
the person who feels them and the person who is the object 
of them. The interests of these two are directly opposite. 
What our sympathy with the person who feels them would 
prompt us to wish for, our fellow-feeling with the other 
would lead us to fear. As they are both men, we are con- 
cerned for both ; and our fear for what the one may suffer, 
damps our resentment for what the other has suffered. Our 
sympathy, therefore, with the man who has received the 
provocation, necessarily falls short of the passion which 
naturally animates him, not only upon account of those 
general causes which render all S3m[ipathetic passions inferior 
to the original ones, but upon account of that particular cause 
which is peculiar to itself, our opposite sympathy with 
another person. Before resentment, therefore, can become 
graceful and agreeable, it must be more humbled, and 
brought down below that pitch to which it would naturally 
rise, than almost any other passion. ^ 

Mankind, at the same time, have a very strong sense of 
the injuries that are done to another. The villain in a 
tragedy or romance, is as much the object of our indignation 
as the hero is that of our sympathy and affection. We 
detest lago as much as we esteem Othello ] and delight as 


SECT. n,J OF PKOPEIETr. 46 

much in the punishment of the one, as we are grieved at 
the distress of the other. But though mankind have so 
strong a fellow-feeling with the injuries that are done to 
their brethren, they do not always resent them the more 
that the sufferer appears to resent them. Upon most occa- 
sions, the greater his patience, his mildness, his humanity, 
provided it does not appear that he wants spirit, or that fear 
was the motive of his forbearance, the higher the resent- 
ment against the person who injured him. The amiableness 
of the character exasperates their sense of the atrocity of 
the injury. 

These passions, however, are regarded as necessary parts 
of the character of human nature. A person becomes con- 
temptible who tamely sits still and submits to insults, with- 
out attempting either to repel or to revenge them. We 
oannot enter into his indifference and insensibility : we call 
his behaviour mean-spiritedness, and are as really provoked 
by it as by the insolence of his adversary. Even the mob are 
enraged to see any man submit patiently to affronts and ill 
usage. They desire to see this insolence resented, and 
resented by the person who suffers from it. They cry 
to him with fury to defend, or to revenge himself. If his 
indignation rouses at last, they heartily applaud and sym- 
pathize with it. It enlivens their own indignation against 
his enemy, whom they rejoice to see him attack in turn, 
and are as really gratified by his revenge, provided it is not 
immoderate, as if the injury had been done to themselves. 

But though the utility of those passions to the individual, 
by rendering it dangerous to insult or injure him, be ac- 
knowledged ; and though their utility to the public, as the 
guardians of justice, and of the equality of its administra- 
tion, be not less considerable, as shall be shewn hereafter ; 
yet there is still something disagreeable in the passions 
tiiemselves, which makes the appearance of them in other 


46 OP PROFBIETT, [PABT. I. 

men the natural object of our aversion. The expression of 
anger towards any body present, if it exceeds a bare intima- 
tion that we are sensible of his ill usage, is regarded not 
only as an msult to that particular person, but as a rudeness 
to the whole company. Respect for them ought to hare 
restrained us &om giving way to so boisterous and offensive 
an emotion* It is the remote effects of these passions which 
are agreeable ; the immediate effects are mischief to the 
person against whom they are directed. But it is the 
immediate, and not the remote, effects of objects which 
render them agreeable or disagreeable to the imagination. 
A prison is certainly more useful to the public than a palace; 
^and the person who founds the one is generally directed by 
a much juster spirit of patriotism, than he who builds the 
other. But the immediate effects of a prison, the confine- 
ment of the wretches shut up in it, are disagreeable ; and 
the imagination either does not *take time to trace out the 
remote ones, or sees them at too great a distance to be much 
affected by them. A prison, therefore, will always be a 
disagreeable object ;* and the fitter it is for the purpose for 
which it was intended, it will be the more so. A palace, 
on the contrary, will always be agreeable ; yet its remote 
effects may often be iuconvenient to the public. It may 
serve to promote luxury, and set the example of the dissolu- 
tion of manners. Its immediate effects, however, the con- 
veniency, the pleasure, and the jgaiety of the people who 
live in it, being all agreeable, and suggesting to the 
imaginatioii a thousand agreeable ideas, that faculty gene- 
rally rests upon them, and seldom goes farther in tracing its 
more distant consequences. Trophies of the instruments 
of music or of agriculture, imitated in painting or in stucco, 
make a common and an agreeable ornament of our halls 
and dining-rooms.' A trophy of the same kind, composed 
of the instruments of surgery, of dissecting and amputation 
knives, of saws for cutting the boties, of trepanning instra* 
ments, &c., would be absurd and shocking. InstmmeHti 


SEOT*. n. J OP PKOPRIBTY* 47 

of surgery, however, are always more finely poUshed, and 
generally more nicely adapted to the purposes for which 
they are intended, than instraments of agriculture. The 
remote effects of them too, the health of the patient, is agree- 
able ; yet as the immediate effect of them is pain and suffer- 
ing, the sight of them always displeases us.^ Instruments 
of war are agreeable, though their immediate effect may 
seem to be in the same manner pain and suffering. But 
then it is the pain and suffering of our enemies, with whom 
we have no sympathy. With regard to us, they are im- 
mediately connected with the agreeable ideas of courage, 
victory, and honour. They are themselves, therefore, sup- 
posed to make one of the noblest parts of dr^ss, and the 
imitation of them one of the finest ornaments of architecture. 
It is the same case with the qualities of the mind. Thid 
ancient stoics were of opinion, that ad the world was 
governed by the aU-ruling providence of a wise, powerful, 
and good God, every single event ought to be regarded as 
making a necessary part of the plan of the universe, and as 
tending to promote the general order and hapjnness of the 
whole: that the vices and follies of mankind, therefore, 
made as necessary a part of this plan as their wisdom or 
their virtue ; and by that eternal art which educes good 
fiK>m iU, were made to tend equally to the prosperity and 
perfection of the great system of nature. No 'speculation 
of this kind, however, how deeply soever it might be 
rooted in the mind, could diminish our natural abhorrence 
for vice, whose immediate effects are so destructive, and 
whose remote ones are too distant to be traced by the 
imagination. 

It is the same case with those passions we have been ju^t 
now considering. Their immediate effects are so disagree- 
able, that even when they are most justly provoked, there is' 
still something about them which disgusts uss Thes^,^ 
therefore, are the only passions of which the expressions, 


I 

48 or PROPRIETY. [part I. 

as I formerly observed, do not dispose and prepare us to 
sympathize with them, before we are informed of the cause 
which excites them. The plaintive voice of misery, when 
heard at a distance, will not allow us to be indifferent 
about the person from whom it comes. As soon as it 
strikes our ear, it interests us in his fortune, and, if conti- 
nued, forces us almost involuntarily to fly to his assist- 
ance. The sight of a smiling countenance, in the same 
manner, elevates even the pensive into that gay and airy 
mood, which disposes him to sympathize with, and share, 
the joy which it expresses ; and he feels his heart, which 
with iJiought and care was before that shrunk and depress- 
ed, instantly expanded and elated. But it is quite other- 
wise with the expressions of hatred and resentment. The 
hoarse, boisterous, and discordant voice of anger, when 
heard at a distance, inspires us either with fear or aver- 
sion. We do not fly towards it, as to one who cries out 
with pain and agony. Women, and men of weak nerves, 
tremble and are overcome with fear, though sensible that 
themselves are not the objects of the anger. They con- 
ceive fear, however, by putting themselves in the situation 
of the person who is so. Even those of stouter hearts are 
disturbed : not indeed enough to make them afraid, but 
-enough to make them angry ; for anger is the passion 
which they would feel in the situation of the other person. 
It is the same case with hatred. Mere expressions of 
'spite inspire it against nobody, but the man who uses 
iihem. Both these passions are by nature the objects of our 
-aversion. Their disagreeable and boisterous appearance 
never excites, never prepares, and often disturbs, our sym- 
pathy. Grief does not more powerfully engage and attract 
-ns to the person in whom we observe it, than these, while 
we are ignorant of their cause, disgust and detach us from 
him. It was, it seems, the intention of nature, that those 
rougher and more unamiable emotions, which drive men 


SECT, n.] . OP PROPRIETT. 49 

from one another, should be less easily and more rarely 
commmiicated. 

When music imitates the modulations of grief or joy, it 
either actually inspires us with those passions, or at least 
puts us in the mood which disposes us to conceive them* 
But when it imitates the notes of anger, it inspires us with 
fear. Joy, grief, love, admiration, devotion, are all of 
them. passions. which are naturally musical. Their natural 
tones are all soft, clear, and melodious ; and they naturally 
express themselves in periods which are distinguished by 
regular pauses, and which upon that account are easily 
adapted to the regular returns of the correspondent airs of 
a tune. The voice of anger, on the contrary, and of all 
the passions which are akin to it, is harsh and discordant. 
Its periods too are all irregular, sometimes very long, and 
sometimes very short, and distinguished by no regular 
pauses. It is with difficulty, therefore, that music can 
imitate any of those passions ; and the music which does 
imitate them is not the most agreeable. A whole enter- 
tainment may consist, without any impropriety, of the imi- 
tation of the social and agi'eeable passions. It would be a 
strange entertainment which consisted altogether of the 
imitations of hatred and resentment. 

If those passions are disagreeable to the spectator, they 
are not less so to the person who feels them. Hatred and 
anger are the greatest poison to the happiness of a good 
mind. There is, in the veiy feeling of those passions, 
something harsh, jarring, and convulsive, something that 
tears and distracts the breast, and is altogether destructive 
of that composure and tranquillity of mind which is so ne- 
cessary to happiness, and which is best promoted by the 
contrary passions of gratitude and love. It is not the value 
of what they lose by the perfidy and ingratitude of those 

E 


50 OF PBOFBIETY. fPABT I. 

iSiey lire with, wluch the generous and humane are most 
apt to regret. Whatever they may have lost, they can ge- 
nerally be very happy without it. What most disturbs them 
is the idea of perfidy and ingratitude exercised towards 
themselves ; and the discordant and disagreeable passions 
which this excites, constitute, in their own opinion^ the chief 
part of the injury which they suffer. 

How many things are requisite to render tiie gratifica- 
tion of resentment completely agreeable, and to make the 
spectator thoroughly sympathize with our revenge ? The 
provocation must first of all be such that we should become 
contemptible, and be exposed to perpetual insults, if we did 
not, in some measure, resent it. Smaller offences are 
always better neglected; nor is there any thing more des- 
picable than that firoward and captious humour which takes 
fir^ upon every slight occasion of quarreL We should 
resent more from a sense of the propriety of resentment, 
from a sense that mankind expect and require it of us, than 
because we feel in ourselves the furies of that disagreeable 
passion. There is no passion, of which the human mind is 
capable, concerning whose justness we ought to be so 
doubtful, concerning whose indulgence we ought so care- 
fully to consult our natural sense of propriety, or so dili- 
gently to consider what will be the sentiments of the cool 
and impartial spectator. Magnanimity, or a regard to 
maintain our own rank and dignity in society, is the only 
motive which can ennoble the expressions of this disagree- 
able passion. This motive must characterize our whole 
style and deportment. These must be plain, open, and 
N direct ; determined without positiveness, and elevated with- 
out insolence ; not only free from petulance and low scur^ 
rility, but generous, candid, and full of all proper regards, 
even for the person who has offended us. It must appear, 
in short, from our whole manner, without our labouring 


ft 

affectedly to express it, that passion has not extinguished our 
homanity ; and that if we yield to the dictates of revenge, it 
is with reluctance, from necessity, and in consequence of 
great and repeated proYOcations. When resentment is guard- 
ed and qualified in this manner, it may be admitted to be 
even generous and noUe. 


52 OP PROPRIETY. [part I. 


CHAPTER IV, 

Of the social Passions. 

As it is a divided sympathy which renders the whole 
set of passions just now mentioned, upon most occasions, 
so ungraceful and disagreeable; so there is another set 
opposite to these which a redoubled sympathy renders 
almost always peculiarly agreeable and becoming. Gene- 
rosity, humanity, kindness,' compassion, mutual friendship 
and esteem, all the social and benevolent affections, when 
expressed in the countenance or behaviour, even towards 
those who are not peculiarly connected with ourselves^ 
please the indifferent spectator upon almost every occasion. 
His sympathy with the person who feels those passions 
exactly coincides with his concern for the person who is the 
object of them. The interest, which, as a man, he is obliged 
to take in the happiness of this last, enlivens his fellow- 
feeling with the sentiments of the other, whose emotions 
are employed about the same object. We have always, 
therefore, the strongest disposition to sympathize with the 
benevolent affections. They appear in every respect agree- 
able to us. We enter into the satisfaction both of the per- 
son who feels them, and of the person who is the object of 
them. For as to be the object of hatred and indignation 
gives more pain than all the evil which a brave man can 
fear from his enemies ; so there is a satisfaction in the con- 
sciousness of being beloved, which, to a person of delicacy 
and sensibility, is of more importance to happiness than all 
the advantage which he can expect to derive from it. What 
character is so detestable as that of one who takes pleasure 
in sowing dissension among friends, and turning their most 
tender love into mortal hatred? Yet wherein does the 


mim 


SECT. n.J OF PBOPKIETY. 53 

atrocity of this 80 much abhorred injuiy consist? Is it in 
depriving them of the frivolous good offices which, had their 
friendship continued, thej might have expected from one 
another ? It is in depriving them of that friendship itself, 
in robbing them- of each other's affections, from which both 
derived so much satisfaction ; it is in disturbing the harmony 
of their hearts, and putting an end to that happy commerce 
which had before subsisted between them. These affec- 
tions, that harmony, this commerce, are felt, not only by 
the tender and the delicate, but by the rudest vulgar of man- 
l:ind, to be of more importance to happiness than all the 
little services which could be expected to flow from them. 

The sentiment of love is, in itself, agreeable to the per- 
son who feels it. It soothes and composes the breast, 
seems to favour the vital motions, and to promote the 
healthful staj;e of the human constitution ; and it is rendered 
still more delightful by the consciousness of the gratitude 
and satisfaction which it must excite in him who is the ob- 
ject of it. Their mutual regard renders them happy in one 
another, and sympathy with this mutual regard, makes them 
Agreeable to every other person. With what pleasure do 
we look upon a family, through the whole of which reign 
mutual love and esteem, where the parents and children 
are companions for one another, without any other differ- 
ence than what is made by respectful affection on the one 
side, and kind indulgence on the other ; where freedom and 
fondness, mutual railery and mutual kindness, shew that 
no opposition of interest divides the brothers, nor any rival- 
ship of favours sets the sisters at variance, and where every 
thing presents us with the idea of peace, cheerfulness, har- 
mony, and contentment ? On the contrary, how uneasy 
are we made when we go into a house in which jarring 
contention sets one half of those who dwell in it against 
the other ; where, amidst affected smoothness and complai- 
sance, suspicious looks and sudden starts of passion betray 


54 OP PROPRIETY. [PABT I. 

tbe mutual jealousies whicli bum within them, and wMchi 
are every moment ready to burst out through all the re- 
paints which the presence of the company imposes ? 

Those amiable passions, even when they are acknow- 
ledged to be excessive, are never regarded with aversion. 
There is something agreeable even in the weakness of 
friendship and humanity. The too tender mother and the 
too indulgent father, the too generous and affectionate 
friend, may sometimes, perhaps, on account of the softness 
of their natures, be looked upon with a species of pity, in 
which, however, there is a mixture of love, but can never 
be regarded with hatred and aversion, nor even with con- 
tempt, unless by the most brutal and worthless of mankind. 
It is always with concern, with sympathy, and kindness, 
that we blame them for the extravagance of their attach- 
ment. There is a helplessness in the character of extreme 
humanity which more than any thing interests our pity. 
There is nothing in itself which renders it either ungrace- 
ful or disagreeable. We only regret that it is unfit for the 
world, because the world is unworthy of it, and because it 
must expose the person who is endowed with it as a prey 
to the perfidy and ingratitude of insinuating falsehood, and 
to a thousand pains and uneasinesses, which, of all men, he 
the least deserves to feel, and which generally too he is, of 
all men, the least capable of supporting. It is quite other- 
wise with hatred and resentment. Too violent a propensity 
to those detestable passions, renders a person the object of 
universal dread and abhorrence, who, like a wild beast, 
ought, we think, to be hunted out of all civil society. 


SECT, n.] OF PB0PRIET7; 55 


CHAPTER V, 

Of the 8eyUh Pasiiana. 

Besides . those two opposite sets of passions, the social 
and nnsoeial, there is another which holds a sort of middle 
place between them ; is never either so gracefftlas is som^ 
times the one set, nor is ever so odious as is sometimes the 
other. Grief and joy, when conceived upon account of our 
own private good or bad fortune, constitute this third set 
of passions. Even when excesHve, they are never so dis- 
agreeable as excessive resentm^t, because no opposite 
sympathy can ever interest us against them ; and when 
most suitable to their objects, they are never so a^eeable 
as impartial humanity and just benevolence ; because no 
double s^pathy can ever interest us for them. There is, 
however, this difference between grief aftd joy, that we are 
generally most disposed to sympathize with small joys and 
great sorrows. The man who, by some sudden revolution 
of fortune, is lifted up all at once into a condition of life 
^eatly above what he had formerly lived in, may be assur- 
ed that the congratulations of his best friends are not all of 
them perfectly sincere. An upstart, though of the greatest 
merit, is generally disagreeable, and a sentiment of envy 
commonly prevents us from heartily sympathizing with his 
joy. If he has any judgment, he is sensible of this, and 
instead of appearing to be elated with his good fortune, ho 
endeavours, as much as he can, to smother hiA joy, and keep> 
down that elevation of mind with which his new cireum- 
ttances naturally inspire him. He affects the same plain* 
aess of dress, and the same modesty of behaviour, which 
became him in his former station. He redoubles his atten- 
tion to his old friends, and endeavours more than evertO' 


56 OF PROPRIETY. [PART I. 

be hnmble, assiduous, and complaisant. And this is the 
behaviour which in his situation we most approve of; be- 
cause we expect, it seems, that he should have more sym- 
pathy with our envy and aversion to his happiness^ than we 
have to his happiness. It is seldom that with all this he 
succeeds. We suspect the sincerity of his humility, and 
he grows weary of this constraint. In a little time, there- 
fore, he generally leaves all his old friends behind him, 
some of the meanest of them excepted, who may, perhaps, 
condescend to become his dependants : nor does he always 
acquire any new ones ; the pride of his new connections is 
as much affronted at finding him their equal, as that of his 
old ones had been by his becoming their superior : and it 
requires the most obstinate and persevering modesty to 
atone for this mortification to either. He generally grows 
weary too soon, and is provoked, by the sullen and suspi- 
cious pride of the one, and by the saucy contempt of the 
other, to treat the first with neglect, and the second with 
petulance, till at last he grows habitually insolent, and for- 
feits the esteem of all. If the chief part of human happi- 
ness arises from the consciousness of being beloved, as I 
believe it does, those sudden changes of fortune seldom 
contribute much to happiness. He is happiest who advances 
more gradually to greatness, whom the public destines to 
every step of his preferment long before he arrives at it, 
in whom, upon that account, when it comes, it can excite 
no extravagant joy, and with regard to whom it cannot 
reasonably create either any jealousy in those he overtakes, 
or any envy in those he leaves behind. 

Mankind, however, more readily sympathize with those 
smaller joys which flow from less important causes. It is 
decent to be humble amidst great prosperity ; but we can 
scarce express too much satisfaction in all the little occur- 
rences of common life, in the company with which we 
spent the evening last night, in the entertainment that was 


SECT, n.] OF PROPRIETY. 67 

set before us, in what was said, and what was done, in all 
the little incidents of the present conversation, and in all 
those frivolous nothings which fill up the void of human 
life. Nothing is more graceful than habitual cheerfulness, 
which is always founded upon a peculiar relish for all the 
little pleasures which common occurrences afford. We 
readily sympathize with it : it inspires us with the same 
joy, and makes every trifle turn up to us in the same agree- 
able aspect in which it presents itself to the person endow- 
ed with this happy disposition. Hence it is that youth, the 
season of gaiety, so easily engages our affections. That 
propensity to joy which seems even to animate the bloom, 
and to sparkle from the eyes of youth and beauty, though 
in a person of the same sex, exalts, even the aged, to a 
more joyous mood than ordinary. They forget, for a time, 
their infirmities, and abandon themselves to those agreeable 
ideas and emotions to which they have long been strangers, 
but which, when the presence of so much happiness recals 
them to their breast, take their place there, like old ac- 
quaintance, from whom they are sorry to have ever been 
parted, and whom they embrace more heartily upon ac- 
count of this long separation. 

It is quite otherwise with grief. Small vexations excite 
no sympathy, but deep affliction calls forth the greatest. 
The man who is made uneasy by every little disagreeable 
incident ; who is hurt if either the cook or the butler have 
failed in the least article of their duty ; who feels every de- 
fect in the highest ceremonial of politeness, whether it be 
shewn to himself or to any other person ; who takes it 
amiss that his intimate friend did not bid him good-mor- 
row when they met in the forenoon, and that his brother 
hummed a tune all the time he himself was telling a story ; 
who is put out of humour by the badness of the weather 
when in the country, by the badness of the roads when 
upon a journey, and by the want of company, and dulness 


58 OF FROFBIETT. [PAST I. 

of all public diveTsions,' when in town ; 8aeh a pf rson, I 
gay, thongb he should have some reason, will seldom meet 
witii much sympathy. Joy is a pleasant emotion, and we 
gladly abandon ourselves to it upon the slightest occasion. 
We readily, therefore^ sympathize with it in others, when- 
ever we are not prejudiced by envy. But grief is painful, 
and the mind, even when it is our own misfortune, natu- 
rally resists and recoils from it. We would endeavour either 
not to conceive it at all, or to shake it off as soon as we 
have conceived it. Our aversion to grief will not, indeed, 
always hinder us from conceiving it in our own case upon 
very trifling occasions, but it constantly prevents us from 
sympathizing with it in others when excited by the like 
fidyolous causes : for our sympathetic passions are always 
less irresistible than our original ones. There is, besides, a 
malice in mankind, which not only prevents all sympathy 
with little imeasinesses, but renders them in some measure 
diverting. Hence the delight which we all take in ndleiy, 
and in the small vexation which we observe in our compa- 
nion, when he is pushed, and urged, and teased upon all 
sides. Men of the most ordinary good breeding dissemble 
the pain which any little incident may give them ; and 
those who are more thoroughly formed to society, turn, of 
their own accord, all such incidents into railery, as they 
know their companions will do for them. The habit whidi 
a man, who lives in the world, has acquired of considering 
how every thing that concerns himself will appear to 
others, makes those frivolous calamities turn up in the 
same ridiculous light to him, in which he knows they will 
eertainly be considered by them. 

Our sympathy, on the contrary, with deep distress, is 
very strong and very sincere. It is unnecessary to give an 
instance. We weep even at the feigned representaticm of a 
tragedy. If you labour, therefore, under any signal cala- 
mity ; if by some extraordinary misfortune you are falleii 


JECT. n.] OF PBOITRIETY. 69 

into poyerty, into diseases, into disgrace and disappoint- 
ment ; even though your own fault may have been in part^ 
the occasion, yet you may generally depend upon the sin- 
cerest sympathy of all your Mends, and, as far as interest 
and honour will permit, upon their kindest assistance too. 
But if your misfortune is not of this dreadful kind, if you 
have only been a little baulked in your ambition, if you 
have only been jilted by your mistress, or are only hen- 
pecked by your wife, lay your account with the railsry of 
all your acquaintance. 


60 Of PBOFBIETT. [PABT I. 


SECTION IIL 

OF THE EFFECTS OF PEOSPERITY AND ADVERSITY 
UPON THE JUDGMENT OF MANKIND WITH REGARD 
TO THE PROPRIETY OF ACTION ; AND WHY IT IS 
MORE EASY TO OBTAIN THEIR APPROBATION IN 
THE ONE STATE THAN IN THE OTHER. 

CHAPTER I. 

That though our sympathy with sorrow is generally a more 
lively sensation than our sympathy vnthjoy^ it commonly 
falls much more short of the violence of what is natural^ 
felt by the person principally concerned. 

OuE sympathy with sorrow, though not more real, has 
been more taken notice of than our sympathy with joy. 
The word sympathy, in its most proper and primitive sig- 
nification, denotes our fellow-feeling with the suffeiings, 
not that with the enjoyments, of others. A late ingenious 
and subtile philosopher thought it necessary to prove, by 
arguments, that we had a real sympathy with joy, and that 
congratulation was a principle of human nature. Nobody, 
I believe, ever thought it necessary to prove that compas- 
sion was such. 

First of all, our sjrmpathy with sorrow is, in some sense, 
more universal, than that with joy. Though sorrow is ex- 
cessive, we may still have some fellow-feeling with it 
What we feel does not, indeed, in this case, amount to that 


SECT, ni.] OP PROPRIETY. 6 1 

complete sympathy, to that perfect harmony, and correspon- 
dence of sentiments which constitutes approbation. We do 
not weep, and exclaim, and lament, with the sufferer. We 
are sensible, on the contrary, of his weakness, and of the 
extravagance of his passion, and yet often feel a very, sen- 
sible concern upon his account. But if we do not entirely 
enter into, and go along with, the joy of another, we have 
no sort of regard or fellow-feeling for it. The man who 
skips and dances about with that intemperate and senseless 
joy which we cannot accompany him in, is the object of our 
contempt and indignation. 

Pain, besides, whether of mind or body, is a more pun- 
gent sensation than pleasure, and our sympathy with pain, 
though it falls greatly short of what is naturally felt by the 
sufferer, is generally a more lively and distinct perception 
than our sympathy with pleasure, though this last often ap- 
proaches more nearly, as I shall shew immediately, to the 
natural vivacity of the original passion. 

Over and above all this, we often struggle to keep down 
our sympathy with the sorrow of others. Whenever we 
are not under the observation of the sufferer, we endeavour, 
for our own sake, to suppress it as much as we can, and we 
are not always successful. The opposition which we make 
to it, and the reluctance with which we yield to it, neces- 
sarily oblige us to take more particular notice of it. But 
we never have occasion to make this opposition to our 
sympathy with joy. If there is any envy in the case, we 
never feel the least propensity towards it ; and if there is 
none, we give way to it without any reluctance. On the 
contrary, as we are always ashamed of our own envy, we 
often pretend, and sometimes reaUy wish, to sympathize 
with the joy of others, when by that disagreeable sentiment 
we are disqualified from doing so. We are glad, we say, 
on account of our neighbour's good fortune, when in our 


62 OF FBOFBIETY. [PA&T I. 

hearU, perliapey we aie leallj wfxarf. We (rflten feel a 
sympathy witili uxnxm when we weald wiah to be lid of U ; 
aiid we often miss that with joj when we would be glad to 
have it The obyions observatioii, theiefore, whidi it na- 
turally fiUls in our way to make, ia, that our piopensity to 
sympathize with sorrow must be very strong and our in* 
elination to empathize with joy yeiy weak« 

Notwithstanding this prejudice, however, I will ventajpe 
to affirm, that, when tiiere is no envy in the ease, our 
propensity to sympathize with joy is much stronger than 
our propensity to sympathize with sorrow ; and that our 
&Uow-feeling for the agreeable emotion aj^roaehes much 
more nearly to the vivacity of what is naturally felt \>j the 
persons principally concerned, than that which we conceive 
for the pained one. 

We have some indulgence for that excesave grief which 
we cannot entirely go along widi. We know what a pro- 
digious effort is requisite before the sufferer can bring down 
bis emotiMU to complete harmony and concord with those 
of the spectator. . Though he fedls^ therefore, we easily par- 
don hinu But we have no such indulgence for the intem- 
perance (^ joy ; because we are notconsdous that any such 
vast eff<Hrt. is requisite to bring it down to what we can en- 
tirely en^r into. The man who, under the greatest cala- 
mities, can command his sorrow, seems worthy of the 
highest admiiation ; but he who, in the fulness of pros- 
perity, can in the same manner master his joy, seems hardly 
to deserve any praise. We are sensible that there is a much 
wider interval in the one case than in the other, between 
what is naturally felt by the person principally concerned, 
and what the spectator can entirely go along witib. 

What can be added to the happiness of the man who is 
in health, who is out of debt, and has a clear conscience ? 


8SCT. in.] OF PBOPBIETY* 68 

To one in Hub situation all accessions of fortone may pro- 
perly be said to be superfluous ; and if he is much elevated 
upon aecount of them, it must be the effect of the moei 
frivolous levity. This situation, however, may very well 
be called the natural and ordinary state of mankind. Not- 
withstanding the present misery and d^ravity of the world, 
so juatly lamented, this really is' the state of the greater part 
of mes. The greater part of men, therefore, cannot find 
any great difficulty in elevating themselves to all the joy 
which anyaoeesaion to this situation can well excite in 
their companion* 

But though little can be added to this state, much may be 
taken from it* Though between this condition and the 
highest pitch of human prosperity, the interval is but a 
trifle ; between it and the lowest depth of misery, the distance 
Is immense and prodigious. Adversity, on this account, 
necessarily depresses the mind of the sufferer much more 
below its natural state, than prosperity can elevate him 
above it. The spectator, therefore, must find it much more 
difficult to sympathize entirely, and keep perfect timci 
with his sorrow, than thoroughly to enter into his joy, 
and must depart much further from his own natural and 
ordinary temper of mind in the one case than in the other* 
It is on this account, that though our sympathy with sor- 
row is often a more pungent sensation than our sympa- 
thy with joy, it always falls much short of the violence of 
what is naturally felt by the person principally concerned. 

It is agieeable to sympathiase with joy ; and wherevw 
envy does not oppose it, our heart abandons itself with sa- 
lisfiEUstion to the highest transports of that delightful senti- 
ment. But it is painful to go along with grief, and we al- 
ways enter into it witib reluctance.* When we attend to 

* It haa ImSbd objected to me, that as I found the sentimeiit of appna- 
batioD, which is always agreeable, upon STmpathy, it is inconsistent with 


64 OF PBOPRIETY. [PART I. 

the representation of a tragedy, we struggle against that 
S3nBpathetic sorrow which the entertainment inspires as 
long as we can, and we give way to it at last only when 
we can no longer avoid it : we even then endeavour to 
cover our concern from the company. If we shed any 
tears, we carefully conceal them, and are afraid lest the 
spectators, not entering into this excessive tenderness, should 
regard it as effeminacy and weakness. The wretch whose 
misfortunes call upon our compassion feels with what reluc- 
tance we are likely to enter into his sorrow, and therefore 
proposes his grief to us with fear and hesitation : he even 
smothers the half of it, and is ashamed, upon account of this 
hard-heartedness of mankind, to give vent to the fulness of 
his affliction. It is otherwise with the man who riots in joy 
and success. Wherever envy does not interest us against 
him, he expects our completest sympathy. He does not 
fear, therefore, to announce himself with shouts of exulta- 
tion, in full confidence that we are heartily disposed to go 
along with him. 

Why should we be more ashamed to weep than to laugh 
before company ? We may often have as real occasion to do 
the one as to do the other : but we always feel that the 
spectators are more likely to go along with us in the agree- 
able than in the painful emotion. It is always miserable 
to complain, even when we are oppressed by the most 
dreadful calamities. But the triumph of victory is not 

my system to admit any disagreeable sympathy. I answer, that in the 
sentiment of approbation there are two things to be taken notice of ; 
first, the sympathetic passion of the spectator ; and, secondly, the emo- 
tion which arises from his observing the perfect coincidence between this 
sympathetic passion in himself, and the original passion in the person 
principally concerned. This last emotion, in which the sentiment of ap- 
probation properly consists, is always agreeable and delightful. The 
other may either be agreeable or disagreeable, according to the nature of 
the original passion, whose features it must always, in some measure^ 
letain. 


l^CT. m.] OF FBOPBIETT. M 

always ungracefiil. Pradence, indeed, would often advbd 
ns to bear our prosperity with more, moderation ; because 
prudence would teach us to avoid that envy which this very 
triumph is, more than, any thing, apt to excite. 

How hearty are the acchimations of the mob, who never 
bear any envy to their saperiors, at a triumph or a pnblie 
entry? And how sedate and moderate is commonly their 
l^ef at an execution ? Our sorrow at a funeral generally 
amounts to no more than an affected gravity : but our mirUi 
at, a christening or a marriage is always from die heart 
and without any affectation. Upon these, and all such joy- 
ous occasions, our satisfaction, though not so durable, is 
often as lively as that of the persons principally concerned; 
Whenever we cordially congratulate our friends, which^ 
however, to the disgrace of human nature, we do but sel- 
dom, their joy literally becomes our joy : we are, for tlia 
moment, as happy as they are : our heart swells and overr 
flows with real pleasure : joy and complacency sparkle from 
pur eyes, and animate every feature of our countenance 
and every gesture of our body. 

But, on the contrary, when we condole with our friends 
in their afflictions, how little do we feel in comparison of 
what they feel ? We sit down by them, we look at them, 
and while they relate to us the circumstances of their mis- 
fortune, we listen to them with gravity and attention. But 
while their narration is every moment interrupted by those 
natural bursts of passion which often seem almost to choke 
them in the midst of it, how fieir are the languid emotions 
of our hearts from keeping time to the transports of theirs ? 
We may be sensible, at the same time, that their passion is 
natural, and no greater than what we ourselves might feel- 
upon the like occasion. We may even inwardly reproach 
ourselves with our own want of sensibility, and perhaps, on 
that account, work. ourselves up into an artificial sympathy^ 

F 


iK ^^ vBontsEiT. [taxt % 


{t^iUkj kiffivevwv when it ik xakaeA, i» always the slij 
0^ ipios^ tpmuakary inngmabls ; nod ^eiMiafij, as sooa as 
'ffft fairm feft tii« room^ vanisliee, aad » gone £»: eTer. If »*> 
tare, it seenui^ irhma the loaded us with our own sotrowB^ 
thought that they were enough, and therefore did not com- 
•fMMftd (i^ to talce amy fmrthttr riMure in those of others, t&an 
rntott wfts neoMMHuy to prompt us i» lelievd thera. 

• It is onaeoovBtof tliisdiill seasihillty to the afKctions 
jsf others, tibat raagnoBimfty Mosdst great distress appens 
pbfaya so divinei; graeefiiL His hehavtouap is genteel and 
agieeaUe who can sniiiitain his ehaerfuhiess amidst a 
pmniber of frivolcms disasters^ But h« appears to be nK>re 
Ifaair. sMnrtal who can support, in the saaae manuer, the most 
^y^adfiil calamities. ' We feel what an immeBse effort Is re- 
quisite to silenee those Tiokut emotiMis which natutallj ag{-' 
tliB -and dtitraet those i» his situaftton. We are amazed to 
Smi that ha ean (xramaad himself so entirely. His firm* 
p^BA, jKt the same tfltBe, perfectly caiaeides with our insensi- 
ySi%j* Be makes no demand upon us for that more ex* 
quisite degree of sensibility .whidi we find, and which we 
are mortified to find, that we do not possess. There is the 
M<3t j^erfect corre^ondcnee betw6e» his sentiment and 
'fmm^y and on that aoeount the i»est perfect propriety in lua 
|)ehayiour. It is a pvopnsty, too, which, from our expe^ 
xieace of tlw uraal wcaknsss^of human nature, we could not 
leasoi^ably ha^re expected he ^ould be able to maintain. 
We w^ader. witibi snarprise and astooishmeut at that strtogdi 
of mSnd whi<^ is capable of so noble and generous an eflbrt 
^The sentiment of complete sympathy and approbation, 
BHiced and animaited wi^ wonder and surprise, constitutes 
whatis pr<^;>erly caHed admsratton, as has already been more 
than (mee takep. notice. o£ Cato, aurrmmded on all «des by 
his enemies, uaable to resist them, disdaining to submit to 
them, and reduced by the proud maxims of that age to the 
iieeessity of deatroyiiig hhnse^ yet sever idixinking firora 


Ilk miafectune^ i^vw^t aoppikittiii^ viiht ih^. haatntMm 
Yoke of wxotdledaesfl^ Aose mi«^»Md' flfniyatiiettc Govern 

inal tn^n^ioaiky^ all iiQflea^arj Oidei»: f«» tlu)^ Mflt(f of bift 
tisiuki;. appeara tO' SeA«ca^ that i^reat |aMA<dH»r of iiiMMd* 
V^jf, aiqpefitftela wbkh a^en t]i& gij^a ttieaiaelvafr ni^ 
kJholA. wife yleaBHga anA a((faaiTalii(»». 

Whenever we meet, in common life, with any examples 
oCiiQah heEQii». mc^na^uisky, w^ use ui-^^it mtigmAtlj*^" 
Sietod. Wa a«a liaora api to weep and drnd ta^4 far awdi 
aa^ in t)u» naoaer, paam to feaLnotbiiif fi»1lke«Mdvaa,.tiuHi 
mtbqsa Tdia> gi^e> wbjt t» att tba wnahnQOn of a^nwwr r a»i 
^l^a psistiaidar eaae» tha- sfna^afthetla gria£o^ika,8p6^)itar 
^^aon. U>ig^ ]^fcmit the Qi^|^«»al paaaioa. m. &a pawoli 
pnnfiij^j QPnaeoiad. Tha frieiida of Sotiiedte^ aU -Wi^ 
v^ft b« dnkJDfc ibe laat potiai^ wIMle .ba bimaaU ei4ptae«i4 
^ f af«»t «|d mo^ ehaei^ ti«B%ttiIl]|7«. Upon aB avak 
90Bafiui|i^ tbor apaetato miJkas bo affi^ty and baa soi aaear 
SBMi^ to^ inafca aoir, iia acder ta eaaiqiiar hi» (^rmpatbaiaio aai^ 
xaw^ Ba la u»d^ n^ fib^ thai U will tmii^tttbim to aagr 
fUa^ikat iaagctrarpagant aad bapropi^; bakvaliarplaaaad 
wtbt the sttowbUitf^ af bia awn beairt,. aad i^vefci wa|r to il 
w-iib aomplaiaaaaa mi aal^a^^iabatiioQk fite: gladljr m 
dfllgaa^ thcpaafeia, the laoat walanabudy Tiawa wbieb aan Mit 
Inrdiy geaiu: toi boa aonfieming th^ echlafiiU^ of hia ftdaad^ 
£aflr wbom^ per ba^ ba n&vac felt aa exquiaMj hafora tha 
fand^ and tearful pasffioaof bxva^ But il ia qmta othax* 
viae with tba peiaon priaaipaUy qevMianiad. Ha^ h aU^d^ 
aft nmoh aa pessUile, to txmt awaj hia a^ea £can wbalev«a 
ja aithar nMuvaUj tamUa or diaagreeafble in bia sitnatiom 
^oa aarioua 9a attostioji to tboee ehnciaittsiflaMautf ka faMra, 
migbik xaaka 9f» viateat an iiaprasaioa' upon ban, IJHit ba 
aoiild nolajigar heap withia the baawib of snodaKatkyay aor 


6S (HP PS0FRIET7. [PAS^t*' 

leiider himself the object of the complete sympathy andap-^ 
probation of the Spectators. He fixes his thoughts, there-' 
fore, upon those only Which are agreeable, the applause anf 
admiration which he is about to deserve by the heroic mag- 
nanimity of his behaviour. To feel that he is capable of sa 
lioble and generous an effort, to feel that in this dreadful 
situation he can still act as he would desire to act, animates 
liuid transportfii him with joy, and enablest him to support 
that triumphant gaiety which seems to exult in the victory 
he thus gains over his misfortunes. 

On the contrary, he always appears, in some tneasurei 
Inean and despicable, who is sunk in sorrow and dejectioiK 
tpon account of any calamity of his own. We cannot bring 
6urselves to feel for him what he feels for himself, and whal^ 
J>erhaps, we should feel for ourselves if in his situation. We 
therefore despise him ; unjustly, perhaps, if any sentiment 
tould be regarded as unjust, to which we are by nature ir« 
jtresistibly determined. The weakness of sorrow never ap* 
^ears in any respect agreeable, except when it arises from 
what we feel for others more than from what We feel foi^ 
Oursdves. A son, upon the death of an indulgent and re- 
spectable father, may give way to it without much blame. 
His sorrow is chiefly founded upon a sort of sympathy with 
his departed parent ; and we readily enter into this humane 
Amotion. But if he should indulge the same weakness upon 
account of any misfortune which affected himself only, he 
would no longer meet with any such indulgence. If he 
should be reduced to beggary and ruin, if he should be ex* 
posed to the most dreadful dangers, if he should even be led 
out to a public execution, and there shed one single tear 
tipon Ihe scaffold, he would disgrace himself for ever in the 
opinion of all the gallant and generous part of mankind. 
Tiieir compassion for him, however, would be very strongs 
luld very sincere * but as it would still fall short of this ex« 
tessive weakness, they would have no pardon for the man 


J8ECT. jn.J OP PBOPRDETT. 6> 

who could thus expose himself in the eyes of the world. 
His behaviour would affect them with shame rather thaa 
irith sorrow; and the dishonour which he had thus brought 
upon himself would appear to them the most lamentable 
circumstance in his misfortune. How did it disgrace the 
memory of the intrepid Duke of Biron, who had so often 
jbraved death in the field, that he wept upon the scaffold, 
when he beheld the state to which he was fallen, and roe 
^embered the favour and the glory from which his own radit 
;aesshad so unfortunately thrown him ? 


9$ trvBonasTv. [nsri* 


CHAPTER IL 
ajftlie origin of Ambition, and of the distincHon of Ranks. 

It its because mimkhid are £spo8ed to sympaSiize mcnr^ 
CAtirely with our joy than with otir florrcrw, that we tasBsk 
jMmtde of our riches, and conceal our pofverty. Nothing fe 
so mortifying as to be obliged to expose ottr distress to &e 
view of the public, and to feel, that though our situation is 
open to the eyes of all mankind, no mortal conceives fortis 
the half of what we suffer. Nay, it is chiefly from this re- 
gard to the sentiments of mankind, that we pursue riches 
and avoid poverty. For to what purpose is all the toil and 
bustle of this world ? what is the end of avarice and am* 
bition, of the pursuit of wealth, of power, and pre-eminence ? 
Is it to supply the necessities of nature ? The wages of 
the meanest labourer can supply them. We see that they 
afford him food and clothing, the comfort of a house, and 
of a family. If we examine his economy with rigour, we 
should find that he spends a great part of them upon con- 
veniences, which may be regarded as superfluities, and that, 
upon extraordinary occasions, he can give something even 
to vanity and distinction. What then is the cause of our 
aversion to his situation, and why should those who have 
been educated in the higher ranks of life, regard it as worse 
than death, to be reduced to live, even without labour, upon 
the same simple fare with him, to dwell under the same 
lowly roof, and to be clothed in the same humble attire ? 
Do they imagine that their stomach is better, or their sleep 
sounder, in a palace than in a cottage ? The contrary has 
been so often observed, and, indeed, is so very obvious, 
though it had never been observed, that there is nobody 
ignorant of it. From whence, then, arises that emulation 
which runs through all the different ranks of men, and what 


Ave ithe sdyaiiftages uvUch we profN»e }3y'A$t greart; fPirippoM 
«f hrnnan Hfe ivUck iv« caU iMitterhig onr •eonditiott? T^ 
ba observed, to be attended to, lo be token not»e« of wUfc 
fi^npathy, ccaaapkcencf , sad Approbatioii, «re ell tftie advuH 
teges wbicli we can propose i» 4cim frna k. It i» fli^ 
vanity, not tbe ease, or Ab f kaeane, whicii i&teNste ue. 
But Yauty k always founded upon liie belief of our being 
tbe ol^jeet of attei^on and approbatioa. Tbe lieh man 
lories in bis riehea, beeatue be feels HbstH l^ej naNinilljr 
dxaw upon ban tbe attention of tbe worlds and that anokiitd 
axe disposed to go aloag with faim in dl those ^^reeaftifle 
amotions with which Ihd ad^taatages of his situatiott so 
xieadily inspire him. At tbe thoo^ of this bis heart eeems 
to swell and dilate kaelf within bim, and be is fonder <^bis 
wealth, upon this account, than for all ike other advantages 
it procBfes him. The poor man, on thecontmrf, is ai^amef 
of his poverty. He feds that it either places hhn out ^ 
1^ sight of mankind, or, tibst if tbef itk» any notice of 
bim, th^ have, bowerer, scasee any tfellow4eelhig with^e 
misery and distress ifiach he soffess. He is mortified tipoit 
both accounts ; for Ibongh to be overlooked, and to be 4fa»^ 
approved of, are things enlirely c^esent, yet as obsciHity 
covers us from the day-light of honour and approbation, to 
feei that we are taken no notiee of, necessarily daJknps ^e 
most agreeable hope, and disappokits the most ardent desn«,' 
of human nature. The peer man goes out and comes in* 
unheeded, and when in the midst of a crowd is in ihe same^ 
obscurity as if -shat op^ia bis own bovd. Those humble^ 
cares and painfiol attentions Which oeettpy those in his situa- 
tion, afford no amuaement to the dissipated and tiie gay^' 
They turn away tiieir «yBS from ban, or if the exttremity of 
hie distress fosces them toiocd&at Mm, it is only to spmn 
so disagreeable an ob^t from among them. The fortttnate' 
and the proud wonder at ithe insolence <f( human wretched* 
nesa, that it should dare to pMsent itself befef e ihem, and 
laglib AeloathsameaMyeotpf itannscry yBSsume 4o JBstttrb tiie^ 


7^ OF PBOPRISTY. [part I. 

Mvenity of their happiness. The man of rank and distinc- 
tion, on the contrary, is observed by all the world. Every 
body is eager to look at him, and to conceive, at least by 
sympathy, that joy and exultation with which his circam- 
stances naturally inspire him. His actions are the objects 
of the public care. Scarce a word, scarce a gesture, can fall 
from him that is altogether neglected. In a great assembly 
he is the person upon whom all direct their eyes ; it is upon 
him that their passions seem all to wait with expectation, 
in order to receiM^ that movement and direction which he 
shall impress upon them ; and if his behaviour is not alto- 
gether absurd, he has, every moment, an opportunity of 
interesting mankind, and of rendering himself the object of 
the observation and fellow-feeling of every body about him. 
It is this, which, notwithstanding the restraint it imposes, 
notwithstanding the loss of liberty with which it is attended, 
renders greatness the object of envy, and compensates, in 
the opinion of mankind, all that toil, all that anxiety, all 
those mortifications, which must be undergone in the pur- 
suit of it ; and what is of yet more consequence, all that 
leisure, all that ease, all that careless security, which are 
forfeited for ever by the acquisition. 

When we consider the condition of the great, in those de- 
lusive colours in which the imagination is apt to paint it, it 
seems to be almost the abstract idea of a perfect and happy 
state. It is the very state which, in all our waking dreams 
^d idle reveries, we had sketched out to ourselves as the 
final object of all our desires. We feel, tiierefore, a peculiar 
sympathy with the satisfaction of those who are in it. We 
favour all their inclinations, and forward all their wishes. 
What pity, we think, that any thing should spoil and cor- 
rupt so agreeable a situation ! We could even wish them 
•immortal; and it seems hard to us, that death should at 
last put an end to such perfect enjoyment. It is cruel, we 
tjiink, in nature to compel them fix>m their exalted stations 


flscT.'m.] OF movBXBTr. '78 

to that humble, but hospitable, home, which she has pro- 
vided for all her children. Great king, live for ever ! is the 
cOmpUment, which, after the manner of easterh adulation, 
we should readily make them, if experience did not teach 
us its absurdity. Every calamity that befals them, every 
injury that is done them, excites in the breast of the spec- 
tator ten times more compassion and resentment than he 
would have felt, had the same things happened to other 
men. It is the misfortunes of kings only which afford the ^ 
proper subjects for tragedy. They resemble, in thisrespecti 
the misfortunes of lovers. Those two situations are the 
chief which interest us upon the theatre ; because, in 
'spite of all that reason and experience can tell us to the 
contrary, the prejudices of the imagination attach to these 
two states a happiness superior to any other. To disturb, 
or to put an end to, such perfect enjoyment, seems to be the 
most atrocious of all injuries. The traitor who conspires 
against the life of his monarch, is thought a greater monster 
than any other murderer. All the innocent blood that was 
shed in the civil wars, provoked less indignation than thtd 
death of Charles I. A stranger to human nature, who saw 
the indifference of men about the misery of their inferiors, 
and the regret and indignation which they feel for the 
misfortunes and sufferings of those above tiiem, would be 
apt to imagine, that pain must be more agonizing, and the 
convulsions of death more terrible, to persons of higher 
rank than to those of meaner stations. 

Upon this disposition of mankind to go along with all the 
passions of the rich and the powerful, is founded the distino- 
tion of ranks and the order of society. Our obsequiousness 
to our superiors more frequently arises from our admiration 
for the advantages of their situation, than from any private 
expectations of benefit from their good-wiU. Their bene- 
fits can extend but to a few ; but their fortunes interest 
almoat every body. We are eager to assist them in com- 


74 QvnMBfliKnr^ [auMr.-^ 

pletiaga gystem of liapfriiiAM tliat apfxr^aohtfi m BMr l# 
lierfection ; and we d«Mre to strve^tiMNH&r 4lieir owmatkn, 
witluNit any -oilier BDcompenee bat tlie vaoftHy or ihe hoao^ 
rf ebUgiag thorn. Neither ig oor •defereoee 4o their ine^ 
«atioiis founded ohieflj, or altogether^ upoB a regard to tbe 
jitility of suoh aabnuBeion, aadto tbeovder of secie^, whieb 
10 beet sappocted by li. £^eii wben tbe oidor of aooael^ 
«eeiBs to reqttka that we ihoi^ oppose them^ we eaa basdl^ 
bring otorselyeB to do it That kii^ ave <ihe 4i^:iiranta ai 
tbe people, to be obeyed, resisted, de^^osed, or pimiabed, aa 
the public oonvemeiicy may requkci, ia the doctrine <^ 
leason and philosophy ; but it is net the docttine of na* 
tore* Natare would teaeb us to submit to them for tbeir 
own sake, to tremble and bow down befoise their -eaudted 
station, to regard liheir snule as « rewaid aufficient to oomf 
pensote any servioea, «and to dsead l^ieir displeasurQ, tfaongh 
no other evil were to £e^ow from it, as tbe^eYeseat of .all 
mcuiifiGations. To treat them in any ifespeot aa men, to 
reason and diapute with them upon ordina«y oooainons, ret 
quires such resolution, that there are few t&em wbtose magb> 
nanimity oan support them in it, unless rthey are I&ewifla 
assisted l^ familiarity and aoquaintanee. The strongest 
mptiyes, liie most furious passions, fear, batred, and resent? 
ment, are searee aufficienttobalaneeihBi natusal disposition 
to respect them : and their conduct mus<^ either justiy or 
ui\justiy, haye excited the highest degree (^f all thoae-^paat 
sions, before the bulk of the people oan be bv^aght toopfoie 
them with violence, or to desire to see them either punished 
or deposed. Even when the peofde ha^e been bseq^^ Ibis 
length, they are apt to relent every moment, and eaaily 
lapse into ^ir habitual state of •deferenee to <thoio to wl 
they b&ve been aocustomed to look vip as .their nfrtoid 
snperiorg. They oaxmot :8tand like moidifieaticffiL of ^tiiair 
monarch* Conipaasion soon takes the .place of resentmott^ 
ihey forget all past (provocations, their old princ^iles of 
log^filty levivei and they mxt to re^^bliah #ie rained <Mr 
thority of their old masters, with the same violence with 


mUoh &x^ hsA df^flsd At. Tlu detflih of 43iMide8 I. inroa^ 
4iboiit the restoratkai of ike jroyd faaily. <k3mfmmm iar 
Jbmefi II., wben lie was eeiaed l^ the |)«piilaoe oi fiiakiiig 
Ais escape on 48hip-tbonrcl, bad almmt pnnFented •tke dwvAfaiH 
tioB, and made it >gf> oil mose heavily ihaai bfifosa. 

Do ihe :great seem inaenaibJe of the eaqr priee at whusii 
Aey 2Da7 aoquure the fwhliQ admiraition ; or do they seem to 
asna^e that to then^ tgs to other meb, it noet be itiie 
ehaee either of ewieat or <^ blood? By what importaat 
^somplkhmentB is the yoviiig Boblemaii uustrttttedto tiqqftect 
ithe dignity of his lai^ and to aeiider hhnself wortity of tthat 
«nperiority over his fellow-*citi«ens, to which ike virtue of 
.'his aoeestoro had raised >them? Is it by knowledge, by ia- 
<dustry, by patienoe, tby self-denial, or by yirtiie of aajr 
kind? As all his words, as all Ids motions are attei^ed ts, 
he learns (an habitual regard to every circiimstaiiee lof or#- 
nary behaviour, and (^udies to perlbna all tiiose small 
'dnties with the most exact propriety. As he is -oonscioiis 
how much he is observed, and how mudu mankimd are ditf- 
-posed to £&TOur all his inolinations, he acts, npon the most 
indifferent oooasions, with that freedom aodelevatian windi 
Ae thought of this naturally inspires. His air, his Tnanner, 
Jus deportment, ^1 mark that elegent <and gvaeeliil sense 
of his own superiority, which those who {am bom to infeidflr 
stations oan hardly ever arrive at. ITheee <anB Ihe arts by 
<frhich be proposes to make mankind mose easily submit ;to 
his authorib^, aaid to govern Iheir inclinations according to 
im own pleasorei; ^and in this he is seldom dtsappoinied. 
These arts, supported by rank and pre-eminence, are, upoA 
ordinary occasions, sufficient to govern the world. Louis 
XIV., during the ^ater^part of his reign, was regarded, 
JBJ&t only in Franoe, but over all fEfurope, as the most perfect 
ai^odel of a great-prinoe. Sut what were ihe talents and 
virtues by which >he ae^^uired this great reputation? Wasit 
^Igr il» florapi»l9iis ftQjd infle^uUeJiistiee of all his :iihdertakh 


"76 OP PBOFKIETT. [pXKT I. 

ings, by. the immense dangers and difficullieB with which 
they were attended, or by the unwearied and unrelenting 
application with which he pursued them ? Was it by his 
extensive knowledge, by his exquisite judgment, or by his 
heroic valour? It was. by none of these qualities. But he 
was, first of all, the most powerful prince in Europe, and 
^consequently held the highest rank among kings; and 
(then, says his historian, '^ he surpassed all his courtiers in 
the gracefulness of his shape, and the majestic beauty of 
hia features. The sound of his voice, noble and affecting^ 
gained those hearts which his presence intimidated. He 
had a step and a deportment which could suit only him and 
-his rank, and which would have been ridiculous in any 
other person. The embarrassment which he occasioned to 
those who spoke to him, flattered that secret satisfaction 
with which he felt his own superiority. The old officer, 
who was confounded, and faultered in asking him a fiEivour, 
and not being able to conclude his discourse, said to him : 
Sir, your majesty, I hope, will believe that I do not tremble 
thus before your enemies : had no difficulty to obtain what 
.he demanded." These frivolous accomplishments, sup- 
rported by his rank, and, no doubt too, by a degree of other 
•talents and virtues, which seems, however, not to have 
been much above mediocrity, established this prince in the 
esteem of his own age, and have drawn even from posterity 
II good deal of respect for his memory. Compared with these, 
dn his own times, and in his own presence, no other virtue, it 
•aeemsy appeared to have any merit. Knowledge, industry, 
valour, and beneficence, Ixembled, were abashed, and lost 
^«11 dignity, before them. 

• 
But it is not by accomplishments of this kind that the 
man of inferior rank must hope to distinguish himself. Po- 
liteness is so much the virtue of the great, that it will do 
little honour to any body but themselves. The coxcomb, 
irho imitates their manner, and affects to be eminent by liie 


8BCT. m.] of FBOFiaETr.. tT 

superior propriety of his ordinary behaTibiiry iff rewardect 
with a doable share of contempt for his folly and presump- 
tion. Why should the man, whom nobody thinks ii worth 
while to look at, be very anxious about the manner m 
#hich he holds up his head, or disposes of his arins, while 
he walks through a room ? He is occupied surely with a 
▼eiy superfluous attention, and with an attention too that 
marks a sense of his own importance, which no other mortal 
<ian go along with. The most perfect modesty and j^aiii* 
iless, joined to as much negligence as is consistent with 
the respect due to the company, ought to be the chief cha- 
racteristics of the behaviour of a private man. If ever he 
hopes to distinguish himself, it must be by more important 
lirtues. He must acquire dependants to balance the de-^ 
pendants of the great, and he has no other fund to pay them 
from but the labour of his body and the activity of his 
mind. He must cultivate these therefore : he must acquire 
superior knowledge in his profession, and superior industry 
in the exercise of it. He must be patient in labour, reso^ 
lute in danger, and firm in distress. These talents he must 
Ibring into public view, by the difficulty, importance, and, 
at the same time, good judgment of his undertakings, and 
by the severe and unrelenting application with which he 
pursues them. Probity and prudence, generosity and frank-i 
Hess, must characterize his behaviour upon all ordinary 
occasions ; and he must, at the same time, be forward ta 
engage in all those situations, in which it requires the 
greatest talents^ and virtues to act with propriety, but in 
which the greatest applause is to be acquired by those who 
can acquit themselves with honour. With what impatience 
4oes the^man of spirit and ambition, who is depressed by 
hiB situation, look round for some great opportunity to dis* 
tihgtiish himself? No circumstances, which can afford thisi 
i^^ar to him undesirable. He even looks forward with sa<^ 
tisfaction to the prospect of foreign war, or civil dissension, 
and, with secret transport and delight, sees through all the 


78: or hmkubtv. [pabs u 


^fjiahtnmmi UooMied y^ach attend then^ the poobabir. 
litf «Ct]iofle widu8d-£Mr oocaeioDe pvesenliiig tbcanedlvesi la 
nUeb kdmgr dcsir npoiL hisuielf the sttMlkA. and admkar 
tM»ii' o£ mtmVmi. lie man q£ rank audi diatixMslian, on t]i« 
fonevfti^^ whoee irtiole ^^017 eoxiaiet^ ia thepnoq^etj of hiik 
qrdittarjp MiavtoiiVy n^a is oontentod with the hanMA re^ 
IMHn njutk tida ean a&rdluii^ and ha« nO' tahnti to aar 
qittie anj elihaBy it tUKwilMitg:!^ eidbanasa hinadf with whai 
can he attended eidiec with difficvltjr or dietiesB. To figacob 
4t>battieihkgveaitx]:a]B|fh^ and la oucoeed ia an intrigoft 
of gti&uatiryfy, hu» hifheiBt exploit. Be has. an aif^xsioa to aH 
foibUe eoafosioit% noi bom the. l9im o£ mantand, for Q^ 
gnat Batrerledi a^poik t^is iofeniMra a8< thek foUpwHsiMir 
tqves:; aoa jmt from wanl^ eosaagA,. foir i» that he is ^ddoiia 
detetiaw;; bal fioni a coiiawiiaiieeathaihe peesessea mmm 
el tha inrtaaa whieh. ace fe^ttiied kk aaeh> situatioBe, aoA 
^lali the fHibUaatteiitum will eettainlj he^ewnoi aavray.&eia 
hiaahgr oAmm Sa mar^ he wtttiag: te eaqM^ hlmaielf ^ 
aMMr little danger, and te^ makai a campai^ wIma it hapr* 
fenata'batha&dnon, but he shiiddeiai ^n^hei^^r at tiin 
ffciwghlel asf aitpailMi wbieh demanda the fteatjaiml aadf 
|»ng QXBK&m of patteace^ iadaatrjr, tetitude^ and applies 
taan of ikon^. These Tirtnes mm hafldl|f evev ta be met 
withm aen who are bom toi those high- Btattona. b lA 
gorefUMents aeeordingijy even in mOBarGhies^ ttie higheal 
effieea aie genenll j peeaesaedl^ and. the whole^ detail of iha 
adtaimtsaAien condaeted, by wtut w1k> were edacated in 
tihe naddla and iaferier lai^ of life^. who^ have been eanaed 
le e w aa d by Aeir ewn industry and iAiM(tieS|. iheagh loaded 
witibtihejealonsy, and opposed by tha veaentment, of eH 
theae wh« were bom tbehr snperioxs^ and to wban ^e grea^ 
alter hairing regarded tibem, first with eontempt and aftelp* 
inada with eary, «re at last eoateatod to tmdde with Hm 
aeneahgeet neaiuiess widi which Aey desire that the leatof 
AmM behaira to ihamselTea. 


itiB Htmloias 6ff Mi 0M7 fluifpm' over Uto aflbotioiMP of 
mankind wliicli renders the faUficomgnatBtiBVo insnppOTl^ 
able. When the family of the king of Macedon was led in 
ifi«i|>h by PatdiM. JBrnSmSy iiicir misfbrtaeMs, k ia said, 
mmii^iihitm ffinie^ Yn&i iAm oottqutsoK, Ite atttntimoltlia 
Booftfls fiople. Tk« aigitit of ib» royal okifiditii, wlioioe 
tmferagoteai&MdtiMninaeiisikleoftlwivsitaal^ sirmek 
Am fipoctetoKBi onidait tiio ptsibMo njoiontgff and piosperitf^ 
mUh tho tondwtsiooivoEir and eompasnoB. no k^ ap^ 
pmnimmg^m lSkt> pvocasaion; 9td aeoinei Kbo ono eoQ»> 
£B«ukd tai aotontdMd, and boin^ of «fl sentkiofit, ky like 
gieatoofB oChia calamltioa. B«» frionds^ and miiiietefo fi^ 
l»»ed aftv kin^ Aa lii^ m<yvrod atcmg, tiiey often east llMk 
oyoa 190B tkoir faifen aoranigft, and aiwaya karat into torn 
■t tbo n§^; ilboir wkolo beivvioar do ao onatootiii g tiiat ikey 
ikw^gki not eilkektimm onsfeitiiaoa, bist wove oocnpted ei»* 
tira^ l^ Aq^ asperior gveaftaofft et hm, The gonovona Ro^ 
wmtOL^ QB A» ooBttavy, bakeld kim^ wilk ikdm aad mdig^ 
aatkmi and ingnrdidi aa mswvti^y of all eompwa ioa tho man 
iviia oooid bo so uoonHipiritod aa 1iobo»rta Eve under sa^ 
cdamkigw. Yot what did tkoao eaiamkioa amoirat to? Ao^ 
oardiBg to iho gioader part of kistovians^ ko waa to spend the 
lOBaaiwfaflr of his cbvfB, mdoa tho protoottos of a powerliil 
aai knmano pooplOy in a state wldek is itself skod^ soem 
wovthf of ewy^ a ataile of plenty, eaao, loamro, aad sooonty, 
inm wikicli it waa impossible for kifli, eren Iff kiaowii foify, 
to&lL But ke waanok>ager tobo snrroto^edby that ac^ 
miring mob of fools, flatterers, and dependants, who had for- 
rly bees aeovatomed to attend vpofs all his motions. He 
no longer to be gaaed upon by mnltitades, nor to hare 
it in his p<^er to lender himself the objeot of their respect, 
tkocr gratitude, ttoir love, their admiration. The passions 
of Bastions were my longer to mould l^msebros upon his iOf 
mAom. This was tkat insupportable calamity whieh oiQi- 
OOMTod tho king of all sentiraent ; whieh made his fhentb 
fetget ^ir own misfortunes ; and whieh the Roman magna- 


80 OV PBOPBIETT. [fABT J^ 

nimity could scarce conceive how any man could be so mean- 
spirited as to bear to survive. 

<' Love,'* says my Ix>rd Rocbefoucault, '' iist commonly 
iucceeded by ambition, but ambition is hardly ever suc*> 
eeeded by love/' That passion, when once it has got egir 
tire possession of the breast, will admit neither a rival nor s. 
successor. To those who have been accustomed to the pog-. 
session, or even to the hope, of public admiration, all other- 
pleasures sicken and decay. Of all the discarded statesmen 
who, for their own ease, have studied to get the better of am-> 
bition, and to despise, those, honours which they could no 
longer arrive at, how few have been able to succeed? The 
greater part have spent their time in the most listless and 
insipid indolence, chagrined at the thoughts of their own in- 
significancy, incapable of being interested in the occupations 
of private life, without enjoyment, except when they talked 
of their former greatness, and without satisfaction, except 
when they were employed in some vain project to recover it. 
Are. you in earnest resolved never to barter your liberty for 
the lordly servitude of a court, but to live fi^e, fearless^ and 
independent? There seems to be. one way to. continue m 
that virtuous resolution ; and perhaps but one. Never enter 
the place from whence so few have been able to return; 
never come within the circle of ambition ; nor ever bring your- 
self into comparison with those masters of the earth who have 
iilready engrossed the attention of half mankind before yon^ 

Of such mighty importance does it appear to be, in tb^ 
imaginations of men, to stand in that situation which sets 
(hem most in the view of general sympathy and attention. 
And thus, place, that great object which divides die wives of 
aldermen, is the end of half the labours of human life ; andi 
.is the cause of all the tumult and bustle, all the rapine and 
injustice, which avarice and ambition have introduced into 
,fbis world. People of sense, it is said, indeed despise place; 


• SECT, m.] . OP PROPRIETY. T 81 

iiiat is, they despise sitting at the head of the table, and aro 
indifferent who it is that is pointed out to the company by 
:that frivolous, circumstance, which the smallest advantage 
18. capable of overbalancing. But rank, distinction, pre- 
eminence, no man despises, unless he is either raised very 
.much above, or sunk very much below, the ordinary standard 
of human nature; unless he is either so confirmed in wisdom 
and real phOosophy, as to be satisfied that,, while the pro- 
priety of his conduct renders him the just object of appro- 
bation, it is of little . consequence though he be neither 
iittended to, nor approved of; or so habituated to the idea 
of his own meanness, so sunk in slothful and sottish indi£fer- 
enee, as entirely to have forgot the desire, and almost the 
very wish, for superiority. 

As to become the natural object of the joyous congratula- 
tions and sympathetic attentions of mankind is, in this 
manner^ the circumstance which gives to prosperity all its 
, dazzling splendour ; so nothing darkens so much the gloom 
' of, adversity as to feel that our misfortunes are the objects, 
not of the fellow-feeling but of the contempt and aversion 
-of our brethren. It is upon this account that the most 
dreadful calamities are not always those which it is most 
difficult to support. It is often more mortifying to appear 

• in public under small disasters, than under great misfor- 

• tunes. The first excite no sympathy ; but the second, 
though they may excite none that approaches to the anguish 

' of the sufferer, call forth, however, a very lively compassion. 
. The -sentiments of the spectators are, in this last case, less 

• wide of those of 'the* sufferer, and their imperfect feUow- 
£d^ing lends him some assistance in. supporting his misery. 
Before a gay assembly, a gentleman would be more morti- 

.fied to appear covered with filth and rags than with: blood 

. and wounds. This last situation. would interest their pity; 

the other would provoke their laughter. The judge who 

/oideEB a criminal to be set in the pillory, dishonouss.Ifim 

a 


(82 OF 1«0PRI£TT, [PISTI. 

-move tiian if he had condonned him to the scaffidld. TkB 
ipreat prince, who, some Tears ago, caned a general oflimr 
at the head of his army, disgraced him iraecoTerablj. He 
{mnishment would h«ve been much less, had he shot him 
'^through the body. By the laws of honour, to strike inik 
a csaiie dfehonours, to strike with a sword does not, for an 
obvtons reason. Those slighter punishments, when inflio^ 
-^d on a gendeman, to whom dishonour is the greatest ef 
-aM evils, oome to be regarded among a humane and geaeraiB 
people as the most dreadful of any. With regard to pw- 
0ons of tibat rank, therefore, they are unrroraidly laid «8ids; 
-and the law, while it takes their life upon many ooeasioM, 
jwpects their honour upon almost all. To scourge a peEBon 
of quality, or to set him in the pillory, upon account ^of any 
crime whatever, is a brutality of which no European go- 
vernment, eaeept that of Russia, is capable. 


A Imive man is net rendered oontemptibie by 

iNKnight to the scaffold ; he is, by being set in the piUoiy. 

.file behaviour in the oae situation may gain him uoixvand 

'Wteemand admirat ion. No b^aviour inihe other cam lea- 

tehim agreeable. The sympathy of the spectators eappofta 

Inm in the one case, and saves him firom !&at .shame, Aat 

eoiueionsness, that his misery is felt by himself oaly,««3iidi 

is of all sentiments the most insuppcfftahle* These lis m> 

.qrmpathy in the other ; or, if thereis any, it is mot with Us 

ipam, which is a irifte, but wiih his ixmsraousnefls of >t]to 

(HQMi^of symjmthy with whioh ibis paintis attended. Itas 

''uMi -his ifaame, not wi^ his sorrow. Thoae who pify ink, 

Uaiii atuDhaog down their iieadBforfainL Qe droopaai 

thntBanie manner, and ^^ himself inecoifarflhly degndad 

by 4lie -punishment, 'tiiough not byxtfae crime. The «i«iy 

ion tfie oimtniy, who dies wlfli xasolation, asbe is niilmiBj 

.wgjuitA wMi ihe atsot aspect of esfeeem and appiobattim, 

•laate weaa^Mknseif the same undaoaled coontanaaee ; 

/X;fhe snme does not 4epirive him of the xeepeot of ol 


•EGTi l£l.] 


fiP TSOtPBIETY. 


9» 


the punishment never will. He has no suspicion that his 
situation is the object of contempt or derision to any body, 
and he can, with propriety, assume the air, not only of per- 
fect serenity, but of triumph and exultation. 

^' Grreat dangers,'' says the Cardinal de Retz, ^' have their 
charms, because there is some glory to be got, even when 
we miscarry. But moderate dangers have nothing but 
^liat is -horrible, beeause the loss of reputation always 
iktlends the want of sneeess/' His maxim has the same 
fomidtttk>n widi what we hare been just bow observing wKk 
iiegard to pimiiG&nieitts« 

> • . * 

Husiin irfi?ttte is siipcrriar ^ pttin, to poverty, to da&ga^ 
«ad to 46ath ; nor does it i&vea require its utmost effiatts io 
despise lliem. Bat to have its misery exposed to insult aad 
dearisnen, io be led in trinnqsh, to be set up lor the hand j«f 
'Beotn t^ .ponit 4^, is a iilaflitiott in which its conBtaOc|r is 
'inwdi mpite^yt to fttl. Coqaparod ^th !&« eontemft of 
mankind, all other external evils are tmuiy suppocted. 


( i 


... . * 


i * * 


» « « . . 




84 OF PBOFBIETT. [PABT I. 


CHAPTER III. 

Of the corruption of our moral sentiments^ which is occasioned 
by this disposition to admire the rich and the great^ and to 
demise or neglect persons of poor and mean condition. 

This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the 
rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to ne- 
glect, persons of poor and mean condition, though necessaiy 
both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks 
and the order of society, is, at the same tune, the great and 
most universal cause of the corruption of our moral senti- 
ments. That wealth and greatness are often regarded with 
the respect and admiration which are due only to wisdom 
and virtue ; and that the contempt,' of which vice and folly 
are the only proper objects, is often most unjuistly bestowed 
upon poverty and weakness, has been the complaint of 
moralists in all ages. 

We desire both to be respectable and to be respected. 
We dread both to be contemptible and to be contemned. 
But, upon coming into the world, we soon find that wisdom 
and virtue are by no means the sole objects of respect ; nor 
vice and folly, of contempt. We frequently see the respect- 
ful attentions of the world more strongly directed towards 
the rich and the great, than towards the wise and the vir- 
tuous. We see frequently the vices and follies of the 
powerful much less despised than the poverty and weakness 
of the innocent. To deserve, to acquire, and to enjoy, the 
respect and admiration of mankind, are the great objects 
of ambition and emulation. Two diflPerent roads are pre- 
sented to us, equally leading to the attainment of this so 
much desired object ; the one, by the study of wisdom and 
the practice of virtue ; the other, by the acquisition of 


SECT, m.] OF PROPRIBTV. 86 

wealth and greatness. Two different characters are pre- 
sented to our emulation ; the one of proud ambition and 
ostentatious avidity ; the other, of humble modesty and 
equitable justice. Two different models, two different pic- 
tures, are held out to us, according to which we may fashion 
our own character and behaviour ; the one more gaudy and 
gjUttering in its colouring ; the other more correct and more 
exquisitely beautiful in its outline ; the one forcing itself 
upon the notice of every wandering eye; the other attract- 
ing the attention of scarce any body but the most studious 
and careful observer. They are the wise and the virtuous 
chiefly, a select, though, I am afraid, but a small party, who 
are the real and steady admirers of wisdom and virtue. 
The great mob of mankind are the admirers and worship- 
pers, and, what may seem more extraordinary, most fre- 
quently the disinterested admirers and worshippers, of 
wealth and greatness. 

The respect which we feel for wisdom and virtue is, no 
doubt, different from that which we conceive for wealth 
and greatness ; and it requires no very nice discernment 
to distinguish the difference. But, notwithstanding this 
difference, those sentiments bear a very considerable re* 
semblance to one another. In some particular features they 
are no doubt different, but, in the general air of the coun- 
tenance, they seem to be so very nearly the same, that inat- 
tentive observers are very apt to mistake the one for the 
other. 

In equal degrees of merit there is scarce any man who 
does not respect more the rich and the great than the poor 
and the humble. With most men the presumption and 
vanity of the former are much more admired than the real 
and solid merit of the latter. It is scarce agreeable to good 
morals, or even to good language, perhaps, to say, that mere 
wealth and greatness, abstracted from merit and virtue, de* 


M OF FROPBIBTir. [PABT I. 

-gerve our respect. We must acknowledge, howcTer, tfeat 
^faey almost constantly obtain it ^ and thej may, therefore, 
■'be considered as, in some respects, Uie natmal objects of it. 
^hose exalted stations may, no doubt, be completely degra- 
ded by vice and folly. But the vice and folly must be 
^^iry great, before they can operate this complete degrada- 
tion. The proflig€U5y of a man of fashion is looked upon 
"with much less contempt and aversion than tibiat of a man 
of meaner condition. In the latter, a single transgression 
Jof the rules of temperance and propriety is commonly 
4nor« resented than the constant and avowed contempt of 
l&em ever is in the former. 

' In the middling and inferior stations of life, the road to 
^rtue and that to fortune, to such fortune, at least, as men 
In i^uch stations can reasonably expect to acquire, are, 
happily, in most cases very nearly the same. In all tfce 
middling and inferior professions, real and solid professional 
abilities, joined to prudent, just, firm, and temperate con- 
duct, can very seldom fail of success. Abilities will even 
Itometimes prevail where the conduct is by no means correct. 
>£fili6r habitual imprudence, however, or injustice, or weak- 
ness, or profligacy, will always cloud, and sometimes de- 
l^ress altogether, the most splendid professional abilities. 
Mem in the in^vi<Hr and middling stations of life, besides, 
eoa never be great enough to be above the law, which must 
f^nerally ov^awe them into some sort of re^ct for, at 
least, the more important rules of justice. The success of 
such people, too, almost always depends upon the favour 
and good opinion of their neighbours and equals ; and With- 
wit a tolerably regular conduct, diese can very seldom be 
obtained. The good old proverb, therefore, that honesty is the 
best policy, holds, in such situa<ftons, almost always petfectiy 
' tine. In sueh situations, tberefore, we may generally ex- 
peeta conaicteiable degree of virtue; and, fortunately fot 


aSC*. ni.J OF PBOPBIBIT. 8f 

Use gdod mon^ of society, tiiese are the fiitiifttibns of faj 
fttr die greater p^ of mankind. 


In the Superior stationiB of life die ease is nhhappily: 
idways the same. lb the courts of pnnces, in the dramii^ 
160ms of the great, where success and preferment depend^ 
not upon the esteem of intelligent and -well-informed equakii 
htit upon the fiBmdfhl and fooUsh favour of ignorant, peeh- 
aninptuous, and proud superiors ; flattery and falsdiiood too 
often prevail over merit and ahilities. In such societies^ 
the ahilities to please are more regarded than the ahilitieff 
tb serve. In quiet and peaceahie times, when the storm is 
at a distance, the prmce, or great man, wishes only to be^ 
mztused, and is even apt to fancy that he has scarce aiijr 
oeeasion for the service of any hody, or that those who' 
amuse him are sufficiently ahle to serve him. The external 
graces, the frivolous accomplishments, of that impertinent 
and foolish thing called a man of fashion, are commonly^ 
itiore admired than the solid and mascidine virtues of m 
wanior, a statesman, a philosopher, or a legislator. All 
tlie great and awful virtues, all the virtues whidi- can fit^ 
eitlier for the council, the senate, or the field, are, hy thet 
kmolent and insignificant flatterere, who commonly figuia. 
liie most in such corrupted societies, held in the utmost; 
(kmtempt and derision; When the Duke of Sully was oalledl 
upon hy Louis XIIL to give his advice in some great 
emergency, he ohserved the favourites and courtiers whis- 
pering to one another, and smiling at his unfa8hioniU>le 
appearance. — " Whenever your Majesty^s father,'' saidthft) 
did warrior and statesman, '^ did me the honour to consultr 
moj he ordered t^ bufibons of the court to retire into the' 
jtntechamber." 

It is- from our disposition to admire, and consequently tl>> 
ifliitate, the rich and the great, that they are enabled to tot^ 
6r Ho l^d, what is called the &shion. Their dlwss is tiUK 


Sft OP PROPRIETY. [pAtlT i. 

fashionable dress ; the language of their conversation, the 
f&shionable style ; their air and deportment, the fashionable 
behaviour. Even their vices and follies are fashionable ; 
and the greater part of men are proud to imitate and re- 
semble them in the very qualities which dishonour and de- 
grade them. Vain men often give themselves airs of a 
fiishionable profligacy, which, in their hearts, they do not 
approve of, and of which, perhaps, they are really not guilty. 
Hiey desire to be praised for what they themselves do not 
think praiseworthy, and are ashamed of unfashionable vir- 
tues, which they sometimes practise in secret, and for which 
they have secretly some degree of real veneration. There 
are hypocrites of wealth and greatness, as well as of religion 
and virtue ; and a vain man is as apt to pretend to be what 
he is not, in the one way, as a cunning man is in the other. 
Ha assumes the equipage and splendid way of living of his 
superiors, without considering, that whatever may be praise- 
worthy in any of these derives its whole merit and propriety 
from its suitableness to that situation and fortune which 
both require, and can easily support the expense. Many 
a.poor man places his glory in being thought rich, without 
considering that the duties (if one may call such follies by 
so very venerable a name) which that reputation imposes 
upon him, must soon reduce him to beggary, and render 
his situation still more unlike that of those whom he admires 
and imitates, than it had been originally. , 

To attain to this envied situation, the candidates for for- 
tune too frequently abandon the paths of virtue ; for unhap- 
pily, the road which leads to the one and that which leads, 
to the other, lie sometimes in very opposite directiouAi.. 
But the ambitious man flatters himself that, in the splendid 
situation to which he advances, he will have so many means 
of commanding the respect and admiration of mankind, and 
wi\ be enabled to act with such superior propriety and' 
gTAce, that the lustre of his future conduct will entirel]^ . 


SECT, m.] OF.PKOPRIETY. 89. 

cover, or efface, the foulness of the steps hj which he ar- • 
rived at that elevation. In man7 governments the candi« 
dates for the highest stations are above the law ; and, if 
they can attain the object of their ambition, they have no 
fear of being called to account for the means by which they 
acquired it. They often endeavour, therefore, not only by 
fraud and falsehood, the ordinary and vulgar arts of intrigue 
and cabal, but sometimes by the perpetration of the most 
enormous crimes, by murder and assassination, by rebellion 
and civil war, to supplant and destroy those who oppose or 
stand in the way of their greatness. They more frequently 
miscarry than succeed ; and commonly gain nothing but the 
disgraceful punishment which is due to their crimes. But, 
though they should be so lucky as to attain that wished-for 
greatness, they are always most miserably disappointed in 
the happiness which they expect to enjoy in it. It is not 
ease or pleasure, but always honour, of one kind or another, 
though frequently an honour very ill understood, that the 
ambitious man really pursues. But the honour of his ex- 
alted station appears, both in his own eyes and in those of 
other people, polluted and defiled by the baseness of the- 
means through which he rose to it. Though by the pro* 
fusion of every liberal expense ; though by excessive in- 
dulgence in every profligate pleasure, the wretched, but 
usual, resource of ruined characters ; though by the hurry 
of public business, or by the prouder and more dazzling 
tumult of war, he may endeavour to efface, both from his 
own memory and from that of other people, the remem- 
brance of what he has done ; that remembrance never fails 
to pursue him. He invokes in vain the dark and dismal 
powers of forgetfulness and oblivion. He remembers him- 
self what he has done, and that remembrance tells him 
that other people must likewise remember it. Amidst 
all the gaudy pomp of the most ostentatious greatness; 
amidst the venal and vile adulation of the great and of the 
learned; amidst the more innocent, though more foolish^ 


90 CW PBOPEIBTT* [PABTiv 

acolamalions of the common people ; asiidst sSi the pride 
of conquest and the triumph, of successful war, he is still 
decretly pursued hy the avenging furies of shame and re* 
morse ;. and, while gloiy seems to surround him on all side% 
he himself, in his own imagination, sees black and foul 
infamy fastpumdng Mm, and every moment ready to over- 
take him from behind. Even the great Cffisar, though he 
bad the magnanimity to dismiss his guards, could not dis- 
miss his suspicions* The remembrance of Pharsalia still 
hauntedi and. pursued him. When, at the request of the 
senate^ he had. the generosity to pardon Marcellus, he told 
tfaat assembly, liiat he was not unaware of the designs 
which were carr3mig on against his life ; but that,, as he had 
lived long enough botili for nature and for ^ory, he was 
Qontented to die, and therefore despised all conspiracies. 
He had,, perhaps, lived long enou^ for nature; but the 
Tfusa who felt himself the object of such deadly resentments 
&om those whose favour he wished to gain, and whom he 
stiU wished to< consider as his Mends^ had certainly lived 
txio long for real glory ; or for all the happiness which he 
ODuid ever hope tb enjoy in the love* and esteem of his 
e^paLk. 


THE 


THEORY OF MORAL SEDIMENTS. 


yart SrroitK 

OF MERIT AND DEMERIT; 


OB. 


OF THE OBJECTS OF REWARD AND PUJflSHMENT; 


OOHBISTINQ or IHBBB SB0IION& 


SECTION I. 


OF THE SENSE OF MERIT ANI> DEMERIT. 


INTRODUCTION. 

Thebe is another set of qualities ascribed to the actions 
and conduct of mankind, distinct from' their. propriety or 
impropriety, their decency or- ungracefiilness, and which 
are the objects of a distinct species of approbation and dis- 
approbation. These are Merit and Demerit, the qualities of 
deserving reward, and of deserving punishment. 

It has already been observed, that the sentiment or 
affection of the heart from which any action proceeds, and 
upon which its whole virtue or vice depends, may be con- 
sidered under two different aspects, or in two different 
-relations ; first, in relation to the cause or object which 
excites it ; and, secondly, in relation to the end which it 
proposes, or to the effect which it tends to produce : that 
iipon the suitableness or unsuitableness, upon the propor- 
tion or disproportion; which the affection seems to bear to 
the cause or object which excites it, depends the propriety 
.or impropriety, the decency or ungracefulness, of the 
consequent action ; and that upon the beneficial or hurtful 
effects which the affection proposes or tends to produce 
depends the merit or demerit, the good or ill desert, of 
the action to which it gives occasion. Wherein consiists 
oar sense of the propriety or impropriety of actions, has 
been explained in the former part of this discourse. We 
come now to consider, wherein consists that of their good 
<oriU desert. 


94 OF MEBIT AND DEMERIT. [PABT II< 


CHAPTER I. 

That whatever appears to he the proper ohJ£ct of gratitude^ 
appears to deserve reward; and that, in the same manner^ 
whatever appears to he the proper ohject of resentment, 
appears to deserve punishment. 

To ua, iherefoTe, that Mslioa must appeat to deeerre xdr 
iviaird, which appears to be the proper and apprxFred objetifc 
jof that footimmt which most immedialalj §eoA dixeatifr 
frompts OS io renraid, or to do good to^ another. Aad ix 
the same maimer, that actioaimiifitiaF|N3ar to d«aervejpQiiid^ 
ment, which appears to be the proper and approved object 
of that sentuDMnt which most inmiediate]^ and direetlj 
IHTompts lis to ipioiiflh, or to inflict evil npon^ .anoiher. 

Tbci sentiment wMoh mos^ immedialely and difefitlj 
fgtiaapUi us to Toward, is gratitude ; that which moat ii»- 
mediately and direcdj prompts us to punish, is resenteaat 

To US, tiiflorefore, ibat iaciion nmst ^^pp«ttr!to de8cn».z»- 
wavd, which af^ews ^to be Mie pvqpcr <«ad a^pao^ad ol^odfc 
fif.gratitude; M^^mk Ihe other itand, iibat ^etion most ji^pair 
:t0 deaerve pnaiishnaBti which affpaars iQ be Ae :prwfm aai 
^^ipiovad ol^aet «l laaentneat. 

V 

Ta jewardfis to reoompence^ to issmniMiata, rto xalmgi 
if^ lor good. Mceived. To punish, tcio, Is ^o reaompeB«8| 
itoreniiaam1»,tfaoii^madiffiei«Btiiiaim ifcis^>ietD:a 

4^ for #ivfl Aai bas ibean dona* 

.,:,-•. . ; . . . • .. > 

There are some other passions, besides gmtiMklMi 
resentment, which interest ns in the happiness or misery of 


SECT. I.] OF MBXIT AKD DBIOIBIS, 85 

'Others ; but these are none which so dkectly ^tcite qb to 

ibe the instrnments of either. The Ioyo and esteem whieh 

igTW7 up npon ncqnaintance and habitual approbation, 

ixtficesBaidly lead ne to be pleased with ih^ ^od fortune of 

the "man ^ho is the object of aucAi a^feeable emotions, and, 

consequently, to be willing to lend a hand to promote iL 

tOur love, however, is fully satisfied, though his good fortune 

'Should be brought about without our assistance. All tfait 

ihis passion desires, is to see him happy, without regardiikg 

who was the author of his proqierily. But gratitude is not 

to be satisfied in this manner* If die .person to whom ws 

owe many obligations is ^made lutppy wdfthout oBrassiataBea, 

tiiough it pleases our lo:ve, it doesnot tsaniasit our gratituda. 

mi we have recompensed him, till we ourselves have bem 

instrumental in promoting his happiness, we feel oorselvas 

8^ loaded with that debt which bis qpast services hairft hH 

upon us 

The hatred and dialSKe, in die aamennanBes, which ffoutr 
.upon haldtual disapprobation, WEOttId roften lead us to tdiB 
A malicious pleasure in the nasfortQne •of the man wliois 
isonduet and eharadter 'eoceite so.^Min&l a tpasikaL But 
tiunigh dislike and hatred hayden us agmsttiffli sympaft^, 
4nd sometimes dispose us even to iK^oice«t lJ» distress of 
osiMiflifn;, yet, if flMve ds no yesentmsnt in tbecase, of neitfaor 
we nor our friends have received any great personal provo- 
cation, these passions would not naturally lead us to wish 
to be iBstrumentsl in bris^tng it ^idMot Though we could 
^har fiOfMUUshnssxt in 'tonsequence vof tonriuvfing .had aone 
Jhaad snoiti we iwould rather ^that it xfaould hsppen by othifr 
meam* ISo nme under tiM domiaios of ^aelevt hatredit 
tiraiildibe;agteeabk,:p«ElHq»s,t0 liefnr,^atithe|»ersottiihan 
be abhorred and detested was killed Ijgr som»4»cifeut. Bitt 
if he had the least spark of justice, which, though this pas- 
mon is not very favourable to virtue, he might still have, 
it would hurt him excessively to have been himself, even 


96 OF MSBIT AKD DElCflBlP. [pABT n. 

without design, the occasion of this misfortune. Much more 
would the very thought of voluntarily contributing to it 
shock him beyond all measure. He would reject with 
horror even the imagination of so execrable a design ; and 
if he could imagine himself capable of such an enormity, he 
.would begin to regard himself in the same odious light ia 
which he had considered the person who was the object of 
his dislike. But it is quite otherwise with resentment : if 
the person who had done us some great injury, who had 
murdered our father or our brother, for example, should 
soon afterwards die of a fever, or even be brought to the 
Bcaffold upon account of some other crime, though it might 
49oothe our hatred, it would not fully gratify our resentment. 
Kesentment would prompt us to desire, not only that he 
should be punished, but that he should be punished by our 
.means, and upon account of that particular injury which 
he had done to us. Resentment cannot be fully gratified, 
unless the offender is not only made to grieve in his turn, 
but to grieve for that particular wrong which we have suffer- 
ed from him. He must be made to repent and be sorry 
for this very action, that others, through fear of the like 
punishment, may be terrified from being guilty of the like 
offence. The natural gratification of this passion tends, of 
its own accord, to produce all the political ends of punish- 
ix^ent ; the correction of the criminal, and the example' to 
the public. 

Gratitude and resentment, thererore, are the sentiments 
which most immediately and directly prompt to reward: and 

-to punish. To. us, therefore, he must appear to deserve re- 
ward, who appears to be. the proper and approved objebt of 
gratitude ;: and he to, deserve punishment, who appears' to 

^be that of resentment. 


ssCT* l] of mebit and demerit. 97 


CHAPTER 11. 

Of (he proper Objects of Oratitude and Resentment. 

To be the proper and approved otject either of gratitude 
or resentment, can mean nothing but to be the object of 
that gratitude, and of that resentment, which naturally 
seems proper, and is approved of. 

But these, as well as all the other passions of human 
nature, seem proper and are approved of, when the heart 
of every impartial spectator entirely sympathizes with 
them, when every indiflferent bystander entirely enters into, 
and goes along with, them. 

He, therefore, appears to deserve reward, who, to some 
person or persons, is the natural object of a gratitude which 
every human heart is disposed to beat time to, and thereby 
applaud : and he, on the other hand, appears to deserve 
punishment, who, in the same manner, is to some person or 
persons the natural object of a resentment which the breast 
of every reasonable man is ready to adopt and sympathize 
with. To us, surely, that action must appear to deserve 
reward which every body who knows of it would wish to 
ireward, and therefore delights to see rewarded : and that 
action must as surely appear to deserve punishment which 
every body who hears of it is angry with, and upon that 
account rejoices to see punished. 

1. As we sympathize with the joy of our companions 
when in prosperity, so we join with them in the compla-' 
cency and satisfaction with which they naturally regard what- 
ever is the cause of their good fortune. We enter into the 
love and affection which they conceive for it, and begin to 


^8 OF MEBIT AND DEKEEIT. [pABT It; 

love it too. We should be sorry for their sakes if it was 
destroyed, or even if it was placed at too great a distance 
from them, and out of the reach of their care and protection, 
though they should lose nothing by its absence except the 
pleasure of seeing it. If it is man who has thus beea the 
fortunate instrument of the happiness of his brethren, this 
is still more peculiarly the case. When we see oiie man 
assisted, protected, relieved, by another, our sympathy witl» 
the joy of the person who receives tiie benefit serves cmly 
to animate our fellow-feeling with his gissititttde towards 
him who bestows it. When we look upon the person who 
is the cause of his pleasure with the eyes with which we 
imagine he must look upon him, his benefactor seems to 
i^and before us in the most engaging and amiable light* 
We readily, therefore, sympathize with the grateful affection 
which he conceives for a person to whom he has been so 
much obliged ; and consequently applaud the returns which 
he is disposed to make for the good offices conferred upon 
him. As we entirely enter into the affection from which 
these returns proceed, they necessarily seem every way pro* 
per and suitable to their object. 

2. In the same manner, as we sympathize with the sor-> 
row of our fellow-creature whenever we see his distress, 
so we likewise enter into his abhorrence and aversion for 
whatever has given occasion to it. Our heart, as it adopts 
and beats time to his grie^ so is it likewise animated with 
that spirit by which he endeavours to drive away or destroy 
the cause of it. The indolent and passive fellow-feeling 
by which we accompany him in his sufferings, readily givea 
way to that more vigorous and active sentiment by which 
we go along with him in the effort he makes, either to re- 
pel them, or to gratify his aversion to what has given oc- 
casion to them. This is still more peculiarly the case, whes 
it is man who has caused them* When we see one mtok 
oppressed or injured by another, the sympathy which wci 
feel with the distress of the sufferer seems to serve only to 


SECT. I.] OF MERIT AND DSHSSiT, 9d 

animate our fellow-feeling with his resentment against the 
offender. We are rejoiced to see him attack his adversary 
in his turn, and are eager and ready to assist him whenever 
he exerts himself for defence, or even for vengeance, within 
a certain degree. If the injured should perish in the quar* 
rel, we not only sympathize with the real resentment of his 
friends and relations, hut with the imaginary resentment 
which in fancy we lend to the dead, who is no longer 
capahle of feeling or any other human sentiment. But as 
we put ourselves in his situation, as we enter, as it were, 
into his hody, and in our imaginations, in some measure, 
animate anew the deformed and mangled carcase of the 
slain, when we bring home in this manner his case to our 
own bosoms, we feel, upon this, as upon many other occa- 
sions, an emotion which the person principally concerned 
is incapable of feeling, and which yet we feel by an illusive 
sympathy with him. The sympathetic tears which we shed 
for that immense and irretrievable loss, which in our fancy 
he appears to have sustained, seem to be but a small part 
of the duty which we owe him. The injury which he has 
suffered demands, we think, a principal part of our attention. 
"We feel that resentment which we imagine he ought to feel, 
and which he would feel if in his cold and lifeless body 
there remained any consciousness of what passes upon earth. 
His blood, we think, calls aloud for vengeance. The very 
ashes of the dead seem to be disturbed at the thought that 
his injuries are to pass unrevenged. The horrors which are 
supposed to haunt the bed of the murderer, the ghosts 
which, superstition imagines, rise from their graves to de- 
mand vengeance upon those who brought them to an untimely 
end, all take their origin from this natural sympathy with 
the imaginary resentment of the slain. And with regard, 
at least, to this most dreadful of all crimes, nature, antecedent 
to all reflections upon the utility of punishment, has in this 
manner stamped upon the human heart, in the strongest said 
most indelible characters, an immediate and instincdve 
approbation of the sacred and necessary law of retaliation 


100 OF MERIT AND DEMERIT. fPART. IT* 


CHAPTER III. 

That where there is no approbation of the conduct of the per^ 
son who confers the benefit, there is little sympathy with the 
gratitude of him who receives it: and that, on the contrary^ 
where there is no disapprobation of the motives of the per- 
son who does the mischief there is no sort of sympathy with 
the resentment of him who suffers it 

It is to be observed, however, that, how beneficial so- 
ever on the one hand, or how hurtful soever on the other, 
the actions or intentions of the person who acts may have 
been to the person who is, if I may say so, acted upon, yet 
if in the one case there appears to have been no propriety 
in the motives of the agent, if we cannot enter into the af- 
fections which influenced his conduct, we have little sym- 
pathy with the gratitude of the person who receives the . 
benefit : or if, in the other case, there appears to have been 
no impropriety in the motives of the agent, if, on the contrary, 
the affections which influenced his conduct are such as we 
must necessarily enter into, we can have no sort of sym- 
pathy with the resentment of the person who suffers. Little 
gratitude seems due in the one case, and all sort of resent- 
ment seems unjust in the other. The one action seems to 
meirit little reward, the other to deserve no punishment. 

1. First, I say, that wherever we cannot sympathize with 
the affections of the agent, wherever there seems to be no 
propriety in the motives which influenced his conduct, we 
are less disposed to enter into the gratitude of the person 
who received the benefit of his actions. A very small re- 
turn seems due to that foolish and profuse generosity which 
confers the greatest benefits from the most trivial motives, 
and gives an estate to a man merely because his name 
and sirname happen to be the same with those of the giver. 


SECT. I.] OF MERIT AND DEMERIT. 101 

Such services do not seem to demand any proportionable 
recompence. Our contempt for the folly of the agent hm-» 
ders us from thoroughly entering into the gratitude of the 
person to whom the good office has been done. His bene* 
factor seems unworthy of it. As when we place ourselves 
in the situation of the person obliged, we feel that we 
could conceive no great reverence for such a benefactor, 
we easily absolve him from a great deal of that submis- 
sive veneration and esteem which we should think diie to 
a more respectable character ; and provided he always treats 
his weak friend with kindness and humanity, we are willing 
to excuse him from many attentions and regards which we 
should demand to a worthier patron. Those princes who have 
heaped, with the greatest profusion, wealth, power, and 
honours, upon their favourites, have seldom excited that 
degree of attachment to their persons which has often been 
experienced by those who were more frugal of their favours. 
The well-natured, but injudicious, prodigality of James I. 
of Great Britain seems to have attached nobody to his per- 
son ; and that prince, notwithstanding his social and harm- 
less disposition, appears to have lived and died without a 
friend. The whole gentry and nobility of England exposed 
their lives and fortunes in the cause of his more frugal and 
distinguishing son, notwithstanding the coldness and dis- 
tant severity of his ordinary deportment, 

2. Secondly, I say, that wherever the conduct of the 
agent appears to have been entirely directed by motives and 
affections which we thoroughly enter into and approve of, 
we can have no sort of sympathy with the resentment of 
the sufferer, ho^Y" great soever the mischief which may have 
been done to him. When two people quarrel, if we take 
part with, and entirely adopt, the resentment of one of them, 
it is impossible that we should enter into that of the other. 
Our sympathy with the person whose motives we go along 
with| and whom, therefore, we look upon as in the right, 


lot OF MEBIT AND DEMERIT. [PABT II. 

cannot but harden us against all fellow-feeling with the 
other, whom we necessarily regard as in the wrong. What* 
ever this last, therefore, may have suffered, while it is no 
more than what we ourselves should have wished him to suf- 
fer^ while it is no more than what our own sympathetic indig- 
nation would have prompted us to inflict upon him, it cannot 
either displease or provoke us. When an inhuman murderer 
is brought to the scaffold, though we have some compassion 
for his misery, we can have no sort of fellow-feeling with his 
resentment, if he should be so absurd as to express any 
aigainst either his prosecutor or his judge. The natural 
tendency of their just indignation against so vile a criminal 
is indeed the most fatal and ruinous to him. But it is im^ 
possible that we should be displeased with the tendency of 
a sentiment, which, when we bring the case home to our- 
selves, we feel that we cannot avoid adopting. 


SECT. I.] OF MERIT Al^D DEMEBIT. 103 


CHAPTER IV, 

Hecapitulation of the foregoing Chapters, 

" 1. "We do not, tlierefore, tHoroughly and heartily sym- 
]patliize with the gratitude of one man towards another, 
toerely because this other has been the cause of his good 
fortune, unless he has been the cause of it from motives 
which we entirely go along with. Our heart must adopt 
the principles of the agent, and go along with all the affect 
tions which influenced his conduct, before it can entirely 
Sympathize with, and beat time to, the gratitude of the per- 
son who has been benefited by his actions. If in the con- 
duct of the benefactor there appears to have been no pro- 
priety, how beneficial soever its effects, it does not seem to 
demand, or necessarily to require, any proportionable re* 
dompence* 

But when to the beneficent tendency of the action is joined 
the propriety of the affection from which it proceeds, when 
we entirely sympathize and go along with the motives of 
tlie agent, the love which we conceive for him upon his own 
account, enhances and enlivens our fellow-feeling with the 
gratitude of those who owe their prosperity to his good con- 
duct. His actions seem then to demand, and, if I may say 
so, to call ak)ud for a proportionable recorapence. We 
then entirely enter into that gratitude which prompts to be- 
stow it. The benefactor seems then to be the proper ob- 
ject of reward, when we thus entirely sympathize with, and 
approve of, that sentiment which prompts to reward him. 
When we approve of, and go along with, the affection from 
which the action proceeds, we must necessarily approve of 
the action, and regard the person towards whom it is di- 
rected as its proper and suitable object. 


104 OF MERIT AND DE^MERIT. [PART O, 

2. In the same maimer we cannot at all sympathize with 
the resentment of one man against another, merely because 
this other has been the cause of his misfortune, unless he 
has been the cause of it from motives which we cannot 
enter into. Before we can adopt the resentment of the suf- 
ferer, we must disapprove of the motives of the agent, and 
feel that our heart renounces all sympathy with the affec- 
tions which influenced his conduct. If there appears to 
have been no impropriety in these, how fatal soever the ten- 
dency of the action which proceeds from them to those 
against whom it is directed, it does not seem to deserve any 
punishment, or to be the proper object of any resentment. 

But when to the hurtfulness of the action is joined the irn* 
propriety of the affection from whence it proceeds, when our 
heart rejects with abhorrence all fellow-feeling with the mo- 
tives of the agent, we then heartily and entirely sympathize 
with the resentment of the sufferer. Such actions seem then 
to deserve, and, if I may say so, to call aloud for, a pro- 
portionable punishment; and we entirely enter into, and 
thereby approve of, that resentment which prompts to in- 
flict it. The offender necessarily seems then to be the pro- 
per object of punishment, when we thus entirely sympathize 
with, and thereby approve of, that sentiment which prompts, 
to punish. In this case too, when we approve, and go 
along with, the affection from which the action proceeds,, 
we must necessarily approve of the action, and regard the. 
person against whom it is directed, as its proper and suit^ 
able object. 


SECT. I.] OP MERIT AND DEMEBIT. 105 


CHAPTER V. 

The Analysis of the Sense of Merit and Dejnertt. 

1. As our sense, therefore, of the propriety of conduct 
arises from what I shall call a direct sympathy with the 
affections and motives of the person who acts, so our sense 
of its merit arises from what I shall call an indirect sym- 
pathy with the gratitude of the person who is, if I may say 
BOf acted upon. 

As we cannot indeed enter thoroughly into the gratitude 
of the person who receives the benefit, imless we before- 
hand approve of the motives of the benefactor, so, upon 
this account, the sense of merit seems to be a compounded 
sentiment, and to be made up of two distinct emotions ; a 
direct sympathy with the sentiments of the agent, and an 
indirect sympathy with the gratitude of those who receive 
the benefit of his actions. 

We may, upon many different occasions, plainly distin* 
guish those two different emotions combining and uniting 
together in our sense of the good desert of a particular 
character or action. When we read in history concerning 
actions of proper and beneficent greatness of mind, how 
eagerly do we enter into such designs ? How much are we 
animated by that high-spirited generosity which directs 
them ? How keen are we for their success ? How grieved 
at their disappointment? In imagination we become the very 
person whose actions are represented to us : we transport our- 
selves in fancy to the scenes of those distant and forgotten ad- 
ventures, and imagine ourselves acting the part of a Scipia 
or a Camillus, a Timoleon or an Aristides. So far our senti- 
ments are founded upon the direct sympathy with the person 


106 or MERIT AND DEMERIT* [PART H. 

who acts. Nor is flie indirect sympathy with those who re- 
ceive the benefit of such actions less sensibly felt. When- 
ever we place ourselves in the situation of these last, with 
what warm and affectionate fellow-feeling do we enter into 
their gratitude towards those who served them so essen- 
tially? We embrace, as it were, their benefactor along 
wUk than. Oar heart readily sympathizes with the highest 
transports of their grateful affection. No honours, no re- 
wardsy we think, can be too great for them to bestow upon 
him. When they make this proper return for his services, 
we heartily applaud and go along with them ; but are shock- 
ed beyond all measure, if by their conduct they appear to 
have little sense of the obligations conferred upon them. 
Our whole sense, in short, of the merit and good desert of 
^uch actions, of the propriety and fitness of recompensing 
them, and making the person who performed them rejoice 
in his tuni^ arises firom the sympathetic emotions of gratU 
tude and love, with which, when we bring home to our own 
breast the situation of those principally concerned, we feel 
ourselves naturally transported towards the man who could 
act with such proper and noble beneficence. 

• , 2. In the same manner as our sense of the impropriety 
of conduct arises from a want of sympathy, or from a di- 
rect antipathy to the affections and motives of the agent, 
so our sense of its demerit arises from what I shall here 
too caU an indirect sympathy with tiie resentment of the 
sufferer. 

As we cannot indeed enter into the resentment of the 
sufferer, unless our heart beforehand disi^proves the mo- 
tives of the agent, and renounces all fellow-feeling with 
them ; so upon this account the sense of demerit, as well 
as that of merit, seems to be a compounded sentiment, and 
to be made up of two distinct emotions ; a direct antipathy 


gXCT. I.] OF M£BIX AKD DEMEBIT. 107 

tx> the sentimeati of Ike agent^ and an indirect sympathy 
iritk the resentment of the fiufferer. 

We may here too, upon many different occasions, plain- 
ly distinguish those two different emotions combining and 
uniting together in our sense of the ill-desert of a particu- 
lar character or action. When we read in history concern-; 
ing the perfidy and cruelty of a Borgia or a Nero, our 
heart rises up against the detestable sentiments which in- 
fluenced their conduct, and renounces with horror and abo- 
mination all fellow-feeling with such execrable motives. 
So fer our sentiments are founded upon the direct antipathy 
to the affections of the agent : and the indirect sympathy 
with the resentment of the sufferers is still more sensibly 
felt. When we bring home to ourselves the situation of 
the persons whom those scourges of mankind insulted, mur-t 
dered, or betrayed, what indignation do we not feel against 
such insolent and inhuman oppressors of the earth ? Our 
sympathy with the unavoidable distress of the innocent 
sufferers is not more real nor more lively, than our fellow- 
feeling with their just and natural resentment. The former 
g^itiment only heightens the latter, and the idea of their 
distress serves only to inflame and blow up our animosity 
against those who occasioned it. When we think of the 
anguish of the sufferers, we take part with them more ear- 
nestly against their oppressors ; we enter with more eager- 
ness into all their schemes of vengeance, and feel ourselves 
every moment wreaking, in imagination, upon such vio- 
lators of the laws of society, that punishment which our 
sympathetic indignation tells us is due to their crimes. 
Our sense of the horror and dreadful atrocity of such con- 
duct, the delight which we take in hearing that it was pro- 
perly punished, the indignation which we feel when it 
escapes this due reta^atiou, our whole sense and feeling, 
ia short, of its ill desert, of the propriety and fltness of in- 
flicting evil upon the person who is guilty of it, and of 
making him grieve in his turn, arises from the sympathetic 


108 OP MERIT AND DEMERIT, [PART II. 

indigDation which naturally boils up in the breast of the 
spectator, whenever he thoroughly brings home to himself 
the case of the sufferer.* 

* To ascribe in this manner our natural sense of the ill desert of ha- 
man actions to a sympathy mth the resentment of the sufferer, may 
seem, to the greater part of people, to be a degradation of that senti- 
ment. Resentment is commonly regarded as so odious a passion, that 
they will be apt to think it impossible that so laudable a principle, as the 
sense of the ill desert of vice, should in any respect be founded upon it. 
They will be more willing, perhaps, to admit that our sense of the merit 
of good actions is founded upon a sympathy with the gratitude of the 
persons who receive the benefit of them ; because gratitude, as well as 
all the other benevolent passions, is regarded as an amiable principle, 
which can take nothing from the worth of whatever is founded upon it. 
Gratitude and resentment, however, are, in every respect, it is evident, 
counterparts to one another ; and if our sense of merit arises from a 
sympathy with the one, our sense of demerit can scarce miss to proceed 
jfrom a fellow-feeling with the other. 

Let it be considered, too, that resentment, though, in the degrees in 
which we too often see it, the most odious, perhaps, of all the passions, 
is not disapproved of when properly humbled, and entirely brought down 
to the level of the sympathetic indignation of the spectator. When we, 
who are the bystanders, feel that our own animosity entirely corresponds 
with that of the sufferer ; when the resentment of this last does not in 
any respect go beyond our own ; when no word, no gesture, escapes him 
that denotes an emotion more violent than what we can keep time to, and 
when he never aims at inflicting any punishment beyond what we should 
rejoice to see inflicted, or what we ourselves would upon this account, 
even desire to be the instruments of inflicting, it is impossible that we 
should not entirely approve of his sentiments. Our own emotion in this 
case must, in our eyes, undoubtedly justify his. And as'experience teaches 
us how much the greater part of mankind are incapable of this moderation, 
and how great an effort must be made in order to bring down the rude 
and undisciplined impulse of resentment to this suitable temper,- we can- 
not avoid conceiving a considerable degree of esteem and admiration for 
one who appears capable of exerting so much self-command over one of 
the most ungovernable passions of his naturei When indeed the ani- 
mosity of the sufferer exceeds, as it almost always does, what we can go 
along with, as we cannot enter into it, we necessarily disapprove of 
it. We even disapprove of it more than we should of an equal excess oC 


SECT. I.J OP MERIT AND DEMERIT* 109 

almost any othfflr patoion deriyed from the imagination. And this too 
tiolent resentment, instead of carrying bs along with it, becomes itsdf the 
object of our resentment and indignation. We enter into the opposite re- 
sentment of the person who is the object of this unjust emotion, and 
who is in danger of suffering from it. Bevenge, therefore, the excess 
of resentment, appears to be the most detestable of all the passions, and 
is the object of the horror and indignation of every body. And as in 
the way in which this passion commonly discovers itself among man- 
kind, it is excessive a hundred times for .once that it is moderate, we are 
very apt to consider it as altogether odious and detestable, because in its 
most ordinary appearances it is s6. Nature, however, even in the pre- 
sent depraved state of mankind, does not seem to have dealt so unkindly 
with us, as to have endowed us with any principle which is wholly and 
in every respect evil, or which, in no degree and in no direction, can be 
the proper object of praise and approbation. Upon some occasions we 
are sensible that this passion, which is generally too strong, may likewise 
jbe too weak. We sometimes complain that a particular person shews too 
little spirit, and has too little sense of the injuries that have been done 
to him ; and we are as ready to despise him for the defect, as to hate 
iiim for the excess of this passion. 

The inspired writers would not surely have talked so frequently or so 
strongly of the wrath and anger of»God, if they had regarded every de- 
gree of those passions as Adcious and evil, even in so weak and imperfect 
a creature as man. 

Let it be considered, too, that the present inquiry is not concerning a 
matter of right, if I may say so, but concerning a matter of fiict. We 
are not at present examining upon what principles a perfect being 
would approve of the punishment of bad actions ; but upon what princi- 
ples so weak and imperfect a creature as man actually and in fact ap- 
proves of it. The principles which I have just now mentioned, it is evi- 
dent, have a very great effect upon his sentiments ; and it seems wisely 
ordered that it should be so. The very existence of society requires 
that unmerited and unprovoked malice should be restrained by proper 
pmiishments ; and, consequently, that to inflict those punishments should 
be regarded as a proper and laudable action. Though man, therefore, 
be naturally endowed with a desire of the welfare and preservation of 
society, yet the Author of nature has not entrusted it to his reason to 
find out that a certain application of punishments is the proper means of 
attaining this end ; but has endowed him with an immediate and instinc- 
tive approbation of that very application which is most proper to attain 
it. The economy of nature is in this respect exactly of a piece with 


110 OF MERIT AND DEMERIT. [PART, H. 

what it is upon manj otlier occasions. With regard to all those end* 
which, upon account of their peculiar importance, may be r^arded, if 
such an expression is allowable, as the £skvourite mds of nature, she has 
constantly in this manner not only endowecl mankind with an appetite 
for the end which she proposes, but likewise with an appetite for the 
means by which alone this end can be brought about, for their own sakes, 
and independent of their tendency to produce it. Tlius self-preseryation, 
and the propagation of the species, are the great ends which nature 
seems to have proposed in the formation of all animals. Mankind are en- 
dowed with a desire of those ends, and an aversion to the contrary ; with 
a love of life, and a dread of dissolution ; with a deare of &e continusnee 
and perpetuity of the species, and with an aversion to the thoughts of its 
entire extinction. But though we are in this manner endowed with a very 
strong desire of those ends, it has not been entrusted to the slow and ua. 
certain determinations of our reason, to find out liie proper means of bring- 
ing them about. Nature has directed us to the greater part of these by on- 
ginal and immediate instincts. Hunger, thirst, the passion which mutes 
the two sexes, the love of pleasure, and the dread of pain, prompt us to ap* 
ply those means for their own sakes, and without any oonsideratiott ef 
their tendency to those beneficent ends whidi the great Director of ba- 
ture intended to produce by them. 

Before I conclude this note, I must take notice of a difference between 
the approbation of propriety and that of merit or beneficence. Before 
we approve of the sentiments of any person as proper and suitable to 
their objects, we must not only be affected in the same manner as he is, 
but we must perceive this harmony and correspondence of sentiments 
between him and ourselves. Thus, though upon hearing of a misfortune 
that had befallen my firiend, I should conceive precisely that degree of 
concern which he gives way to ; yet till I am informed of the manned 
in which he behaves, till I perceive the harmony between his emotions 
and mine, I cannot be said to approve of the sentiments which influencd 
his behaviour. The approbation of propriety t^ierefore requires, not 
only that we should entirely sympathize with the person who acts, but 
that we should perceive this perfect concord between his sentiments and 
our own. On the contrary, when I hear of a benefit that has been be* 
stowed upon another person, let him who has received it be affected in 
what manner he pleases, if, by bringing his case home to myself, I feel 
gratitude arise in my own breast, I necessarily approve of the conduct of 
his benefactor, and regard it as meritorious, and the proper object of re- 
ward. Whether the person who has received the benefit conceives gra- 
titude or not, cannot, it is evident, in auy degree alter our sentiment^ 
with regard to the merit of him who has bestowed it. No actual corrd^ 


WBCT, Z.} 


OF UERTT AIXD DBMBBir. 


Ill 


spondence of sentiments, therefore, is here required. It is sufficient that, 
if he was gratefiil, they would correspond ; and onr sense of merit is 
often founded upon one of those illosive sympathies, by which, when we 
bring home to ourselves the case of anothery we are often affected in a 
manner in which the person pnncipally concerned is incapable of being 
affected. There is a similar difference between our disapprobation of 
demerit, and that of impropriety. 


\ ■ - 


112 OF MEBIT AND DEMERIT. [PA&T IX. 


SECTION II. 

OF JUSTICE AND BENEFICENCE. 


CHAPTER L 

Comparison of those two Virtues. 

Actions of a beneficent tendency, whicli proceed from 
proper motives, seem alone to require a reward; because 
such alone are the approved objects of gratitude, or excite 
the sympathetic gratitude of the spectator. 

Actions of a hurtful tendency, which proceed from impro- 
per motives, seem alone to deserve punishment; because 
such alone are the approved objects of resentment, or excite 
the sympathetic resentment of the spectator. 

Beneficence is always free, it cannot be extorted by force, 
the mere want of it exposes to no punishment ; because the 
mere want of beneficence tends to do no real positive evQ. 
It may disappoint of the good which might reasonably have 
been expected, and upon that account it may justly excite 
dislike and disapprobation : it cannot, however, provoke any 
resentment which mankind will go along with. The man* who 
does not recompense his benefactor, when he has it in his 
power, and when his benefactor needs his assistance, is, no 
doubt, guilty of the blackest ingratitude. The heart of every 
impartial spectator rejects all fellow-feeling with the selfish- 
ness of his motives, and he is the proper object of the high- 
est disapprobation. But still he does no positive hurt to 


3ECT. n.] OP MERIT AND DEMERIT. 113 

any body* He only does not do that good which in pro- 
priety he ought to have done. He is the object of hatred, 
a passion which is naturally excited by impropriety of sen- 
timent and behaviour ; not of resentment, a passion which is 
never properly called forth but by actions which tend to do 
real and positive hurt to some particular persons. His want 
of gratitude, therefore, cannot be punished. To oblige him by 
force to perform what in gratitude he ought to perform, and 
what every impartial spectator would approve of him for per« 
forming, would, if possible, be still more improper than his 
neglecting to perform it. His benefactor would dishonour 
himself if he attempted by violence to constrain him to gra- 
titude, and it would be impertinent for any third person, who 
was not the superior of either, to intermeddle. But of all 
the duties of beneficence, those which gratitude recommends 
to us approach nearest to what is called a perfect and com- 
plete obligation. What friendship, what generosity, what 
charity, would prompt us to do with universal approbation, 
is still more free, and can still less be extorted by force than 
the duties of gratitude. We talk of the debt of gratitude, 
not of charity, or generosity, nor even of friendship, when 
friendship is mere esteem, and has not been enhanced and 
complicated with gratitude for good offices. 

Resentment seems to have been given us by nature for de* 
fence, and for defence only. It is the safeguard of justice 
and the security of innocence. It prompts us to beat off 
the mischief which is attempted to be done to us, and to reta- 
liate that which is already done, that the offender may be 
made to repent of his injustice, and that others, through fear 
of the like punishment, may be terrified from being guilty of 
the like offence. It must be reserved, therefore, for these 
purposes, nor can the spectator ever go along with it when 
it is exerted for any other* But the mere want of the be- 
neficent virtues, though it may disappoint us of the good 
which might reasonably be expected, neither does, nor 

I 


tl4 OF BfERIT AND DEMERIT. fpART n. 

attempts to do, &nj mischief from which we oan hare occa* 
«ion to^ defend ourselves. 

Thexe is, however, another virtue, of which the obseiv 
Vance is not left to like freedom- of our own wills^ which 
may* be extorted' by force, and of which the violation 6B^« 
lioses to resentment, and consequently to punishment. IJhis 
virtue is' justioe : the violation of justice is injury : it does 
real: and positive hurt to some particular persons,, fix^m mo>* 
iives which are naturally disapproved of. It is, therefore, 
ite proper object of resentment, and of punishment^ which 
is ilie natural conseqxtMice of resentment. As mankind' go 
idong with^ and approve o^ the violence employed to avenge 
the hurt which is- done by injustice, so they much more go 
along with, and approvo of, Ihat which is employed to pre*- 
vent and beat off the injury, and to restrain the offender 
frbm hurting his neighbours. The person himself who medi- 
tates an injustice is s^nfflble of this, and feels that force may, 
with the utmost propriely, be made use of,, both by the per- 
son whom he is about to injure, and by others, either to ob-> 
struct the execution of his crime, or to punish him when he 
&ac^ executed iU And upon this is founded that remarkable 
distinction between- justice and all Uie other social virtues^ 
which has of late been particularly insisted upon by an au- 
thor of very great' and original genius, that we fed ourselves 
to be under a stricter obligation, to act according to justice, 
thaRagreeably-to! friendship, charity, or generosity; thatt&e 
practice of these last*mentioned virtues seems to be left in 
Some measure to our own choice, but that, somehow or other, 
we feel'om*seIves to be in a pectdiar manner tied, bound, and 
obliged^, to the observation of justice. We feel^ that is to 
say, that force may, with the utmost propriety, and with 
tiie^ approbation* of all mankind^ be made use of to constraiix 
us to observe the rules- of the one, but not to follow the 
precepts of the othen 


flRBCT. H.] OF MERIT AND DEMEKIT. 115 

We' most always, however, carefully distinguish what 
i» cmly blleuneable^ ov the proper object of disapprobation^ 
from what force may be employed either to punish or to 
prevent. That seems blameable which £ei11s short of that 
didiniiry degree of proper* beneficence which eatperience 
teaches us to expect of eveiy body ; and^ on the contrary, 
tilat seems praiseworthy which goes beyond it. The or^- 
nary degree itself seems neither blameable nor praisewor^ 
thy. A father, a son, a brother, who behaves to the corre- 
sponiient relation neither better nor worse than the ^ekter 
part of wma commoidy do^ seems properly to deserve neither 
praise norblame. He who surprises us by extraordinary 
and unexpected, though still proper and suitable, kindness, 
<ir, on' the contrary, by extraordinaiy and unexpect?ed, as 
well as unsuitable, unkindness, seems piaisewortiiy m the 
^ne case^ and blameable m the other. 

Even the most ordinary degree of kindness or beneficence, 
however, cannot, among equals^ be extorted by force. 
Among equals each individual^ is naturally, and antecedent 
to the institution of civil government, regarded as having 
a nght both to defend himself from injuries, and to exact a 
eeitain degree of punishment for those which have been 
done to him. Every generous spectator not only approves 
of his conduct when he does this, but enters so far into his 
sentiments as often to be willing to assist him. When one 
man attacks, or robs, or attempts tb murder, another, all the 
neighbours ftike-the alarm, and think that they do right 
when they run^ either to revenge the person who has been 
injiired, -or' t9 defend him who is in danger of being so. 
But when a firtherfails in the ordinary degree of parental 
iififeetion' towards a son ; -when a son seems to want that 
fflial rer^rence which might be expected to his father; when 
tnrothers* are without the usual degree of brotherly affection; 
when a man shuts his breast against compassion, and re« 
fuses to relieve the misery of his fellow- creatures, when he 


116 OF MERIT AND DEMERIT. [PABT IX. 

can with the greatest ease ; in all these cases, though every 
body blames the conduct, nobody imagines that those who 
might have reason, perhaps, to expect more kindness, have 
any right to extort it by force. The sufferer can only 
complain, and the spectator can intermeddle no other way 
than by advice and persuasion* Upon all such occasions, 
for equals to use force against one another, would be thought 
the highest degree of insolence and presumption. 

A superior may, indeed, sometimes, with universal ap- 
probation, oblige those under his jurisdiction to behave, in 
this respect, with a certain degree of propriety to one ano- 
ther. The laws of all civilized nations oblige parents to 
maintain their children, and children to maintain their 
parents, and impose upon men many other duties of benefi- 
cence. The civil magistrate is entrusted with the power 
not only of preserving the public peace by restraining injus- 
tice, but of promoting the prosperity of the commonwealth, 
by establishing good discipline, and by discouraging every 
sort of vice and impropriety ; he may prescribe rules, there- 
fore, which not only prohibit mutual injuries among fellow- 
citizens, but command mutual good offices to a certain 
degree. When the sovereign commands what is merely 
indifferent, iind what, antecedent to his orders, might have 
been omitted without any blame, it becomes not only blame- 
able but punishable to disobey him. When he commands, 
therefore, what, antecedent to any such order, could not have 
been omitted without the greatest blame, it surely becomes 
much more punishable to be wanting in obedience. Of all 
the duties of a lawgiver, however, this, perhaps, is that 
which it requires the greatest delicacy and reserve to exe- 
cute with propriety and judgment. To neglect it altogether 
exposes the commonwealth to many gross disorders and 
shocking enormities, and to push it too &i is destructiye of 
all liberty, security, and justice* 


^ECT. n.] OF MERIT AND DEBfESIT. 117 

Though the mere want of beneficence seems to merit no 
punishment from equals, the greater exertions of that virtue 
appear to deserve the highest reward. By being produc- 
tive of the greatest good^ they are the natural and approved 
objects of the liveliest gratitude. Though the breach of 
justice, on the contrary, exposes to punishment, the obser- 
vance of the rules of that virtue seems scarce to deserve 
any reward. There is, no doubt, a propriety in the practice 
of justice, and it merits, upon that account, all the approba- 
tion which is due to propriety. But as it does no real 
positive good, it is entitled to very little gratitude. Mere 
justice is, upon most occasions, but a negative virtue, and 
only hinders us from hurting our neighbour. The man 
who barely abstains from violating either the person or the 
estate, or the reputation, of his neighbours, has surely very 
little positive merit. He fulfils, however, all the rules of 
what is peculiarly called justice, and does every thing 
which his equals can with propriety force him to do,' or 
which they can punish him for not doing. We may often 
fulfil all the rules of justice by sitting still and doing 
nothing. 

As every man doth, so it shall be done to him, and re- 
taliation seems to be the great law which is dictated to us 
by nature. Beneficence and generosity we think due to 
the generous and beneficent. Those whose hearts never 
open to the feelings of humanity, should, we think, be shut 
out in the same manner, from the afiections of all their 
fellow-creatures, and be allowed to live in the midst of 
450ciety, as in a great desert, where there is nobody to care 
for them, or to enquire after them. The violator of the 
laws of justice ought to be made to feel himself that evil 
which he has done to another ; and since no regard to the 
sufiferings of his brethren is capable of restraining him, he 
ought to be overawed by the fear of his own. The man 


116 OP MERIT AKD DSKERIT* [PABT IX» 

who is barely innocent, who only obsenres the l&ws of jus- 
tiee with regard "to others, and merelj abstains ^om hurt* 
ing his neighbours, can merit only that his neighbaurs in 
their turn shoold respect his innocence, and Ihat the ^8a]ne 
iaws should be religiously observed with regard to him. 


8BCT. II.J OF MEBIT AND DEMEEIT. 119 


CHAPTER IL 

Of ilie sense of Justice^ of Remorse^ and of the consdfmanen 

of MeriL 

These can be no proper motive for hurting our neigh« 
bour, there can be no incitement to do evU to another which 
mankind will ^f^ along with, except just indignation for evil 
which that other has done to us. To disturb his ihappiuess 
merely because it stands in the way of our own, to taka 
^om him what is of real use to him merely 'because it may 
be of equal or of more use to us, or to indulge, in this 
manner, at the expense of other people, the natural jn^efer- 
ence which every man has for his own hagppiness above ^hat 
of other people, is what no impartial spectator can gomlong 
with. Every man is, no doubt, by nature, first smd princi- 
pally ]%eommended to his own <saiB ; and as he is £tter to- 
take care of himself, than of any other person, it is fit and 
light that it should be so. Every man, therefore, is much 
more deeply interested in whatever immediately concerns 
himself than in what concerns any other man : and to hear, 
p^hapa, of the death of another person, with whom we have 
no particular connection, will give us less eoncern, will 
i^il our stomach, or break our rest, much l«i86 l&an 4 very 
insignificant disaster which has befallen ourselves. Burt 
though the ruin of our neighbour may -afieot us much less 
than a very small misfortune of otor orm^ we must not ruift 
him to prevent that small misfoitune, -nor €ven to prevent 
our own ruin. We must here, as in aU other cases, view 
ourselves not so much according to that light in whidi we^ 
may naturally appear to oursdves, as according to that km 
which we naturally appear to oth^rs^ Thoizgh eveiy man 
may, according to the proverb, be the whole world to huB!>^ 


120 OF MERIT AND DEMERIT. [PART II, 

self, to the rest of mankind he is a most icAsignificant part 
of it. Though his own happiness may be of more importance 
to him than that of all the world besides, to every other 
person it is of no more consequence than that of any other 
man. Though it may be true, therefore, that every indivi- 
dual, in his own breast, naturally prefers himself to all 
mankind, yet he dares not look mankind in the face, and 
avow that he acts according to this principle. He feels 
that in this preference they can never go along with him, 
and that how natural soever it may be to him, it must 
always appear excessive and extravagant to them. When 
he views himself in the light in which he is conscious that 
others will view him^ he sees that to them he is but one of 
the multitude, in no respect better than any other in it. If 
he would act so as that the impartial spectator may enter 
into the principles of his conduct, which is what of all things 
he has the greatest desire to do, he must upon this, as upon 
all other occasions, humble the arrogance of his self-love, 
and bring it down to something which other men can go 
^long with. They will indulge it so far as to allow him to 
be more anxious about, and to pursue with more earnest 
assiduity, his own happiness than that of any other person. 
Thus far, whenever they place themselves in his situation, 
they will readily go along with him. In the race for wealth, 
and honours, and preferments, he may run as hard 'as he 
can; and strain every nerve and every muscle, in order to 
outstrip all his competitors. But if he should justle, or 
throw down any of them, the indulgence of the spectators 
is entirely at an end. It is a violation of fair play, which 
they cannot admit of. This man is to them, in every re- 
spect, as good as he : they do not enter into that self-love, 
by which he prefers himself so much to this other, and can- 
not go along with the motive from which he hurt him. 
They readily, therefore, sympathize with the natural resent- 
ment of the injured, and the offender becomes the object of 
their hatred and indignation. He is sensible that he be* 


SECT. II.] OP MERIT AND DEMERIT. 121 

comes so, and heh that those sentiments are ready to hurst 
out from all sides against him. 

As the greater and more irreparable the evil that is done, 
ihe resentment of the sufferer runs naturally the higher : so 
does likewise the sympathetic indignation of the spectator, 
as well as the sense of guilt in the agent. Death is the 
greatest evil which one man can inflict upon another, and 
excites the highest degree of resentment in those who are 
immediately connected with the slain. Murder, therefore, 
is the most atrocious of all crimes which affect individuals 
only, in the sight both of mankind and of the person who 
has committed it. To be deprived of that which we are 
possessed of, is a greater evil than fo be disappointed of 
what we have only the expectation. Breach of property, 
therefore, theft and robbery, which take from us what we 
are possessed of, are greater crimes than breach of contract, 
which only disappoints us of what we expected. The most 
sacred laws of justice, therefore, those whose violation 
seems to call loudest for vengeance and punishment, are 
the laws which guard the life and person of our neighbour; 
the next are those which guard his property and posses- 
sions ; and last of all come those which guard what are 
called his personal rights, or what is due to him from the 
promises of others. 

The violator of the more sacred laws of justice can never 
reflect on the sentiments which mankind must entertain 
with regard to him, without feeling all the agonies of shame, 
and horror, and consternation. When his passion is grati- 
fied, and he begins coolly to reflect on his past conduct, he 
can enter into none of the motives which influenced it. 
They appear now as detestable to him as they did always 
to other people. By sympathizing with the hatred and ab- 
hoi;rence which other men must entertain for him, he be- 
comes in some measure the object of his own hatred and 


122 . OF MERIT AND DEMERIT. f PART U. 

abhorrence. The situation of the person, jjvho suffered hj 
his injustice, now calls upon his pity. He is grieved at th^ 
thought of it ; regrets the unhappy effects of his own con- 
duct, ftnd feels at the same time that they have rendered 
him the proper object of the resentment and indignation of 
mankind, and of what is the natural consequence of resent- 
ment, vengeance and punishment. The thought of this 
perpetually haunts him, and fills him with tcoxor and amaze- 
ment. He dares no longer look society in ihe ietce, but 
imagines himself^ as it were, rejected, and thrown out &om 
&e affections of all mankind. He cannot ho^e for the con- 
solation of sympathy in this his greatest and most dreadM 
distress. The remembrance of his crimes has 4Bhut out aH 
fellow-feeling with him from the hearts of his feUow^crea- 
tures. The sentiments which they entertain with regard to 
him, are the very thing which he is most^tfraid of. £ve^ 
thing seems hostile, and he would be glad to fly to some 
inhospitable desert, whese he might never more behold the 
£ftce of a human creature, nor read in die countenaaice of 
mankind the condemnation of l^is crimes. But solitude is 
«till mere dreadful than society. EKs own thoughts can 
pres^ikt tbim with nothing but what is black, unfortunatei 
and disastrous, tiie melancholy forebodingg of incompre- 
hensible misery and ruin. The horror of solitude drives 
him back into society, and he comes again into &e presence 
of mankind, astonished to appear before them loaded with 
shame and distracted with fear, in order to snppHcate some 
little protection from the countenance of those very judges^ 
who he knows have already all unanimoQsly 'condemned 
him. Such is the nature of that sentiment, which is pro- 
perly called remorse ; of all the sentiments which can ent» 
the human breast the most dreadful. It is made up o( 
shame from the sense of the impropriety of past con- 
duct ; of grief for j&e effects of it ; of pity for those who 
suffer by it ; and of the dread and terror of punishment 
from the consciousness of the justly-provoked resentment, 
of all rational creatures. 


SECT, n.] . 'OF WEmT AND IXBliEBIir. 123 

The opposite beliaviour naturally inspires the opposite 
sentiment. The man who, not from frivolous fancy, but 
from proper motives, has performed a generous action, when 
he looks forward to those whom he lias served, feels him* 
self to be the natural object of their love and gratitude, 
and, by sympathy with them, of the esteem and approba- 
tion of all mankind. And when he looks backward to the 
motive from which lie acted, and smrveys it is liie light in 
which the indifferent spectator wiH survey it, he «till cofii- 
tinnes to enter into it, and applauds (himself by fiympartliy 
with the approbation of thi^ supposed impaitial yoiAge. Ha 
both these points of view, his own conduct; appears to liim 
every way agreeable. His mind, at the bought ef it, 
is fiUed with cheerfidness, serenity, and composure. He ts 
in fnendsbip aoid harmony with all mankind, aid lodks nproi 
his fellow^reatures wkih confidsnoe, amd beneiRQlent satis- 
faction, secure that he has rendered himself woiPtliy^tkeir 
most favourable regards. In the combination of all these 
sentiments, consists the consciousness of tnmit, «€r ^ •de- 
.served reward. 


124 OF BfEBIT AND DEMEBTT. [PABT H. 


CHAPTER III. 

» 

Of the viiliiy of this constitution of Nature, 

It is thus that man, who can subsist only in society, 
was fitted by nature to that situation for which he was 
made. All the members of human society stand in need 
of each other's assistance, and are likewise exposed to mu- 
tual injuries. Where the necessary assistance is recipro- 
cally afforded from love, from gratitude, from friendship, 
and esteem, the society flourishes and is happy, AH the 
different members of it are bound together by the agreeable 
bands of love and affection, and are^ as it were, drawn to 
one common centre of mutual good offices. 

But though the necessary assistance should not be af- 
forded from such generous and disinterested motives, 
though among the different members of the society there 
should be no mutual love and affection, the society, though 
less happy and agreeable, will not necessarily be dissolved. 
Society may subsist among different men, as among dif- 
ferent merchants, from a sense of its utility, without any 
mutual love or affection ; and though no man in it should 
owe any obligation, or be bound in gratitude to any other, 
it may still be upheld by a mercenary exchange of good 
offices according to an agreed valuation. 

Society, however, cannot subsist among those who are 
at all times ready to hurt and injure one another. The 
moment that injury begins, the moment that mutual resent* 
ment and animosity take place, all the bands of it are broken 
asunder, and the different members of which it consisted, 
are, as it were, dissipated and scattered abroad by the vio- 


SECT, n.] OF MERIT AND OEMEBIT. 125 

lence and opposition of their discordant affectidns* If thero 
is any society among robbers and murderers, they must at 
least, according to the trite observation, abstain from rob- 
bing and murdering one another. Beneficence, therefore, 
is less essential to the existence of society than justice* 
Society may subsist, though not in the most comfortable 
state, without beneficence ; but the prevalence of injustice 
must utterly destroy it. 

Though nature, therefore, exhorts mankind to acts of 
beneficence, by the pleasing consciousness of deserved re- 
ward, she has not thought it necessary to guard and enforce 
the practice of it by the terrors of merited punishment in 
case it should be neglected. It is the ornament which em- 
bellishes, not the foundation which supports the building, 
and which it was, therefore, sufficient to recommend, but 
by no means necessary to impose. Justice, on the con- 
trary, is the main pillar that upholds the whole edifice. If 
it is removed, the great, the immense fabric of human so* 
ciety, that fabric which, to raise and support, seems, in thid 
world, if I may say so, to have been the peculiar and dar- 
ling care of nature, must in a moment crumble into atoms. 
In order to enforce the observation of justice, therefore, 
nature has implanted in the human breast that conscious- 
ness of ill desert, those terrors of merited punishment, which 
attend upon its violation, as the great safeguards of the as- 
sociation of mankind, to protect the weak, to curb the vio- 
lent, and to chastise the guilty< Men, though naturally 
sympathetic, feel so little for an another, withwhom they 
have no particular connection, in comparison of what they 
feel for themselves ; the misery of one, who is merely their 
fellow-creature, is of so little importance to them in com- 
parison even of a small conveniency of their own ; they 
have it so much in their power to hurt him, and may have 
80 many temptations to do so, that if this principle did not 
stand up within them in his defence, and overawe them- into 


12S OB Mlfifttt AND DBBIEKIT* [PABT H. 

a. vespect for biff innocence,, they would, like wild' beastsj 
he BHaM. times- ready to fly apon him.; and a roan wonM 
eater an) aacmnbly of men ae« he* enters a den. of Hons. 

. IhieEveiypaiilJ of the universe we observe means adjust^ 
edb wilfi aba nicB0t artifice to the ends which they are is- 
tenifidito produce; and in Hie mechanism of a plant^ or 
animal body, admire how every thing is contrived for ad- 
vancing the two great purposes of nature, the support' of 
the individual^' and the propagation of the species. But in 
these, and in all such objects, we still distinguish l^e effi- 
oieait from, the final cause of their several motions and or- 
ganizati(m& The digestion of the food, liie circulation of 
tiie bloody and the secretion of the several juices which are 
drawn from it, are operations all of them necessary for the 
great purposes of animal life. Yet we never endeavour to 
aocount for- them firom those purposes as from their efficient 
causes, nor imagine that the blood circulates, or that the 
food digests of its own accord^ and with a view or inten- 
tion to tile purposes of circulation or digestion. The wheels 
o£ the watch are all admirably adjusted to the end for which 
it was made, the pointing of the hour. All their various 
motions conspire in the nicest manner to produce this effect. 
If they waere endowed with a desire and intention to produce 
it^ they could not do it^ better. Yet we never ascribe any 
^ch desire or intention to them, but to the watch-maker, 
and we know that they are put into motion by a spring, 
which, intends the efieot it produces as little as they do. 
But though, in* aoeounting for the operations of bodies, we 
never fail to distinguish in this manner the efficient from 
the ' final oause, in accounting for those of the mind, we are 
very apt to confound these two diflferent things with one 
another; When by natural principles we are led to advance 
those ends which- a refined and enlightened reason would 
reoommend to us, we are very apt to impute to that reason, 
as to: their efficient cause, the sentiments and actions by 


asacT. n.] or mbbct and dbmsbit. 12^ 

which we adixance ihcme ends, and ta imagine liiat to he> 
the wisdom of man^ which in reality is the wisdom o£ €rodL 
Upon a supaificiaL -vdew, ihiff cause seems suffieient^ to pro*- 
dace the,e£SaetB- which, ace ascribed, to it ; and the system' o£ 
human nature seems to be more simple and agreeable, when 
all its different operations are in; this inanneE deduced, from 
& single piindple* 

As society cannot subsist unless tiie laws- of justice are 
tolerably observed, as no social intercourse can' take place 
among men who do not generally abstain from injuring one> 
another ;. the consideration of this necessity, it has been 
thought^ was the ground upon which we approved of the 
enforcement of die laws ofi justice, by the punishment of 
tiiose who idolated them. Man^ it has been said, has a 
Botural love for society, and desines that the union of man- 
kind should, be preserved^ for its own sake, and though he 
himself wa& to derive no benefit from it. The orderly and 
flourishing state of' society is agreeable to him, and he takes 
dfilight in: contemplating' it. Its disorder and confusion^ 
on ihe oonirany, is the object of his aversion, and he is 
ehagrined. at whatever tends to produce it» He is sen^ 
aible, toof thathis^own^ interest is connected with the pros* 
penty of society^ and: that the happiness, perhaps the pre-- 
aervation of. his- existence, depends upon its preservation. 
Upon every- account, therefore, he has an abhorrence at 
whatever can tend to destroy society, and is willing to 
make use ofi every mean% w^hich can hinder so hated and 
ao dreadful an event. Injustice necessarily tends to de^ 
stroy it. Every appearance o£ injustice, therefore, alarms 
him, and he runs, if I may say so, to stop the progress of 
what^ if allowed to go on« would quickly put an end to 
evtery -tilling that is dear to him. If he cannot restrain it by 
gentle and fair means, he must bear it dovm by force and- 
"vicdenee, and at any rate must put a stop to it& further pro^- 
gress. H«Qce it is, they say, that he often approves of Ihe 


128 OF MEBIT AND DEMERIT. [PART lU 

enforcement of the laws of justice, even by the capital pu* 
nishment of those who violate them. The disturber of the 
public peace is hereby removed out of the world, and others 
are terrified by his fate from imitating his example* 

Such is the account commonly given of our approbation 
of the punishment of injustice. And so far this account is 
undoubtedly true, that we frequently have occasion ta con- 
firm our natural sense of the propriety and fitness of punish- 
ment, by reflecting how necessary it is for preserving the 
order of society. When the guilty is about to suflFer that 
just retaliation, which the natural indignation of mankind 
tells them is due to his crimes ; when the insolence of his 
injustice is broken and humbled by the terror of his ap- 
proaching punishment ; when he ceases to be an object of 
fear, with the generous and humane he begins to be an ob- 
ject of pity. The thought of what he is about to suffer ex- 
tinguishes their resentment for the sufferings of others to 
which he has given occasion. They are disposed to par- 
don and forgive him, and to save him from that ptmishment, 
which in all their cool hours they had considered as the re- 
tribution due to such crimes. Here, therefore, they have 
occasion to call to their assistance the consideration of the 
general interest of society. They counterbalance the im- 
pulse of this weak and partial humanity, by the dictates of 
a humanity that is more generous and comprehensive. 
They reflect that mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the in- 
nocent, and oppose to the emotions of compassion which they 
feel for a particular person, a more. enlarged compassion 
which they feel for mankind* 

Sometimes, too, we have occasion to defend the propriety 
of observing the general rules of justice, by the considera- 
tion of their necessity tp the support of society. "We fire- 
quentlyhear the young and the licentious ridiculing the most 
sacred rules of morality, and professing, sometimes from the 


SECT. II.] OF MEBIT AND DEBfERIT. 129 

corruption, but more frequently from the vanity of iheir 
hearts, the most abominable maxims of conduct. Our indig- 
nation rouses, and we are eager to refute and expose such 
detestable principles. But though it is their intrinsic hate- 
fulness and detestableness which originally inflames us 
against them, we are unwilling to assign this as the sole 
reason why we condemn them, or to pretend that it is merely 
because we ourselves hate and detest them. The reason, 
we think, would not appear to be conclusive. Yet, why 
should it not ; if we hate and detest them because they are 
the natural and proper objects of hatred and detestation ? 
But when we are asked why we should not act in such or 
such a manner, the very question seems to suppose that, to 
those who ask it, this manner of acting does not appear to 
be for its own sake the natural and proper object of those 
sentiments. We must shew them, therefore, that it ou^t 
to be so for the sake of something else. Upon this account 
we generally cast about for other arguments, and the con- 
sideration which first occurs to us, is the disorder and con- 
fusion of society which would result from the universal 
prevalence of such practices. We seldom fail, therefore, to 
insist upon this topic. 

But though it commonly requires no great discernment to 
see the destructive tendency of all licentious practices to 
the welfare of society, it is seldom this consideration which 
first animates us against them. All men, even the most 
stupid and unthinking, abhor fraud, perfidy, and mjustice, 
and delight to see them punished. But few men have re- 
flected upon the necessity of justice to the existence of 
society, how obvious soever that necessity may appear to be. 

That it is not a regard to the preservation of society, 
which originally interests us in the punishment of crimes 
committed against individuals, may be demonstrated by 
many obvious considerations. The concern which we take 

K 


130 OF SCERTT AND DEMERIT^ [PART XL 

in the fbrtone and happiness of indi'viduals, does not, m 
common eases, arise from that which we take in the forttme 
and haj^iness of society. We are &o more cc«cemed £br 
the destroetion or loss of a fiiogle. man, heca»se this man i» 
a zhemher or part of societj^ and because we should be eon>- 
oerned for the destraotion of society, than we are concerned 
for the h>6S of a single guinea, because this guinea is pai^. 
of a thousand guineas, asid because we should be concerned^ 
for die loss of the whole sum. In neither case does oux: 
regard for the individuals arise from our regard for the 
multitude ; but in both cases our regard for the multiiaide- 
is compounded and made up of the particul^ regards wliich 
we feel for the different individuals of which it is composed^ 
As when a small sum is unjustly taken from us, we do not 
30 much prosecute the injury from a regard to the preservar 
tion of our whole fortune, as from a regard to that particulu: 
sum wMch we have lost ; so when a single man is injured,, 
or destroyed, we demand the punishment of the wrong that; 
has been done to him, not so much from a concern for the^ 
general interest of society, as from a concern for that very 
individual who has been injured. It is to be observed,, 
however, that this concern does not necessarily include in 
it any degree of those exquisite sentiments which are com- 
monly called love, esteem, and a^Section, and by which we 
distinguish our particular friends and acquaintance. The 
concern which is requisite for this, is no more than the 
general fellow-feeling which we have with every man, merely 
because te is our fellow-creature. We enter into the re^ 
sentment even of an odious person, when he is injured by 
tiiose to whom he has given no provocation* Our disi^pro- 
badon of his ordinary character and conduct does not in lids 
case altogether prevent our fellow-feeling with his natural 
indignation ; though with those who are not either extremely 
candid, or who have not been accustomed te coccact and. 
regulate their natural sentiments by general rules, it is very 
1^ to damp. iL 


SECT, n.] OP MERIT AND DEMERIT. 151 

Upon some oee&stonsj indeed, we both punish and aj^reve 
of punishment, merely from a view to the general interest 
of society, which, we imagine, cannot o^erwise be secnrecL 
Of t&iB kind are all the punishments inflicted for breaches 
of what is called either civil police, or military disciplinei 
Such crimes' do not immediately or directly hurt any paeti* 
eular person ; but their remote consequences, it is supposed, 
do produce, or might produce, either a considerable incon* 
veniency, or a great disorder in the society. A sentinel, finr 
example, who falls asleep upon his watch, suffers death by 
ihe laws of war, because such carelessness might endanger 
the whole army. This severity may, upon many occasions, 
appear necessary, and, for that reason, just and proper* 
When the preservation of an individual is inconsistent witit 
liie safety of a multitude, nothing can be more just than tliat 
the many should be preferred to the one. Yet tiliis punish" 
ment, how necessary soever, always appears to be exces** 
sively severe. The natural atrocity of the crime seems to 
be so little, and the punishment so great, that it is with 
great difficulty tikat our heurt can reconcile its^ to it. 
Though such carelessness appears very blameable, yet the' 
thought of this crime does not naturally excite any suehiie-- 
sentment, as would prompt us to take such dreadful revenge. 
A man of humanity must recollect himself, must make an 
effort, and exert his whole firmness and resolution^ before 
be can bring himself either to inflict it, or to go along, wil^i 
it when it is inflicted by others. It is not, however, in this 
manner, that he looks upon the just punishment of an un- 
grateful murderer or parricide. His heart, in this case, 
applauds with ardour, and even with transport, the just re- 
taliation which seems due to such detestable crimes, and 
which, if, by any accident, they should happen to escape, 
he would be highly enraged and disappointed. The very 
different sentiments with which the spectator views those 
different punishments, is a proof that his approbation of the 
one is far from being founded upon the same principles with 


132 OF MERIT AND DEMERIT. [PART. U. 

that of the other. He looks upon the sentinel as an un- 
fortunate victim, who, indeed, must and ought to be devoted 
to the safety of numbers, but whom still, in his heart, he 
would be glad to save ; and he is only sorry that the interest 
of^the many should oppose it But if the murderer should 
escape from punishment, it would excite his highest indig- 
nation, and he would call upon God to avenge, in another 
world, that crime which the injustice of mankind had 
neglected to chastise upon earth. 

For it well deserves to be taken notice of, that we are so 
far from imagining that injustice ought to be punished in 
this life, merely on account of the order of society, which 
cannot otherwise be maintained, that nature teaches us to 
hope, and religion, we suppose, authorizes us to expect, that 
k will be punished even in a life to come. Our sense of its 
ill desert pursues it, if I may say so, even beyond the grave, 
though the example of its punishment there cannot serve to 
deter the rest of mankind, who see it not, who know it not, 
from being guilty of the like practices here. The justice of 
God, however, we think, still requires, that he should here- 
after avenge the injuries of the widow and the fatherless, 
who are here so often insulted with impunity. In every 
religion, and in every superstition that the world ha^ ever 
beheld, accordingly, there has been a Tartarus as well as an 
Elysiiun; a place provided for the punishment of the wicked, 
as well as one for the reward, of the just. 


SECT. III. J OF AlEKIT AKD DEMERIT. 133 


SECTION III. 

OP THE INFLUENCE OF FORTUNE UPON THE SENTI- 
MENTS OF MANKIND, WITH REGARD TO THE MERIT 
OR DEMERIT OF ACTIONS. 


INTRODUCTION. 

Whatever praise or blame can be due to any action, 
must belong, either, first, to the intention or affection of the 
heart, from which it proceeds ; or, secondly, to the external 
action or movement of the body, which this affection gives 
occasion to ; or, lastly, to the good or bad consequences, 
which actually, and in fact, proceed from it. These three 
different things constitute the whole nature and circum- 
stances of the action, and must be the foundation of what- 
ever quality can belong to it. 

That the two last of these three circumstances cannot be 
the foundation of any praise or blame, is abundantly evident ; 
nor has the contrary ever been asserted by any body. The 
external action or movement of the body is often the same 
ID the most innocent and in the most blameable actions. 
He who shoots a bird, and he who shoots a man, both of 
them perform the same external movement : each of them 
draws the trigger of a gun. The consequences which actu- 
ally, and in fact, happen to proceed from any action, are, if 
possible, still more indifferent either to praise or blame, than 
even the external movement of the body. As they depend, 
not upon the agent, but upon fortune, they cannot be tlie 


184 OF KEBIT AND DEMERIT. [PART H. 

proper foundation for any sentiment, of which his character 
and conduct are the objects. 

The only consequences for which he can be answerable, 
or by which he can deserve either approbation or disappro- 
bation of any kind, are those which were some way or other 
intended, or those which, at least, shew some agreeable or 
disagreeable quality in the intention of the heart, from which 
he acted. To the intention or affection of the heart, there- 
fore, to the propriety or impropriety, to the beneficence or 
hurtfulness of the design, all praise or blame, all approbation 
or disapprobation of any kind, which can justly be bestowed 
upon any action, must ultimately belong. 

When this maxim is thus proposed, in abstract and general 
terms, there is nobody who does not agree to it. Its self-evi- 
dent justice is acknowledged by all the world, and there is not 
a dissenting voice among all mankind. Every body allows, 
that how different soever the accidental, the unintended, and 
unforeseen consequences of different actions, yet, if the in- 
tentions or affections from which they arose were, on the one 
hand, equally proper and equally beoieficent, or, on the other, 
equally improper and equally malevolent, the merit or de- 
merit of the actions is still the same, and the agent is equally 
the suitable object either of gratitude or of resentment. 

But how well soever we may seem to be persuaded of the 
truth of this equitable maxim, when we consider it after this 
manner, in abstract, yet when we eome to particular eases, 
the actual consequences which happen to proceed from any 
action, ha^e a very great effect upon our sentim^itB concern- , 
ing its merit or demerit, and almost always either enhance 
or diminish our sense of both. Scarce, iii any one instance, 
perhaps, will our sentiments be found, after examination, to 
be entirely regulated by this rule, which we all admow* 
ledge ought entirely to regulate tiiem. 


SECT, ni.] OF MERIT AND DEMERIT. 135 

This irregularity of sentiment, which every body feels, 
which scarce any body is sufficiently aware of, and which no- 
body is willing to acknowledge, I proceed now to explain j 
and I shall consider, first, the cause which gives occasion to 
it, or the mechanism by which nature produces it ; secondly, 
the extent of its influence ; and, last of all, the end which 
it answers, or the purpose which the Author of nature seems 
to ime mtead«d by it 


136 OF MEBIT AND DEMERIT. [PART II. 


CHAPTER I. 

Of the Causes of this infiuence of Fortune. 

The causes of pain and pleasure, whatever they are, or 
however they operate, seem to be the objects, which, in all 
animals, immediately excite those two passions of gratitude 
and resentment. They are excited by inanimated, as well 
as by animated objects. We are angry, for a moment, even 
at the stone that hurts us. A child beats it, a dog barks at 
it, a choleric man is apt to curse it. The least reflection, 
indeed, corrects this sentynent, and we soon become sensible, 
that what has no feeling is a very improper object of revenge. 
When the mischief, however, is very great, the object which 
caused it becomes disagreeable to us ever after, and we take 
pleasure to bum or destroy .it. We should treat, in this 
manner, the instrument which had accidentally been the 
cause of the death of a friend, and we should often think our- 
selves guilty of a sort of inhumanity, if we neglected to vent 
this absurd sort of vengeance upon it. 

We conceive, in the same manner, a sort of gratitude for 
those inanimated objects which have been the causes of 
great or frequent pleasure to us. The sailor, who, as soon 
as he got ashore, should mend his fire with the plank upon 
which he had just escaped from a shipwreck, would seem to 
be guilty of an unnatural action. We should expect that be 
would rather preserve it with care and affection, as a monu- 
ment that was, in some measure, dear to him. A man grows 
fond of a snuff-box, of a pen-knife, of a staff which he has 
long made use of, and conceives something like a real love 
and affection for them. If he breaks or loses them, he is 
vexed out of all proportion to the value of the damage. The 


SECT, m.] OF MERIT AND DEMEBTT. 137 

house which we have long lived in, the tree whose verdure 
and shade we have long enjojcd, are hoth looked upon with 
a sort of respect that seems due to such benefactors. The 
decay of the one, or the ruin of the other, affects us with a 
kind of melancholy, though we should sustain no loss by it^ 
The dryads and the lares of the ancients, a sort. of genii of 
trees and houses, were probably first suggested by this sort 
of affection which the authors of those superstitions felt for 
such objects, and which seemed unreasonable, if there wa« 
nothing animated about them. 

But, before any thing can be the proper object of grati- 
tude or resentment, it must not only be the cause of pleasure 
or pain ; it must likewise be capable of feeling them. With- 
out this other quality, those passions cannot vent them- 
selves with any sort of satisfaction upon it. As they are 
excited by the causes of pleasure and pain, so their grati* 
fication consists in retaliating .those sensations upon what 
gave occasion to them ; which it is to no purpose to at- 
tempt upon what has no sensibility. Animals, therefore, 
are less improper objects of gratitude and resentment than 
inanimated objects. The dog that bites, the ox that gores, 
are botli of them punished. If. they have been the causes 
of the death of any person, neither the public, nor the re- 
lations of the slain, can be satisfied, unless they are put to 
death in their turn : nor is this merely for the security of 
the living, but, in some measure, to revenge the injury of 
the dead. Those animals, on the contrary, that have been 
remarkably serviceable to their masters, become the objects 
of a very lively gratitude. We are shocked at the bruta- 
lity of that officer, mentioned in the Turkish Spy, who 
stabbed the horse that had carried him across an arm of the 
sea, lest that animal should afterwards distinguish some 
other person by a similar adventure. 

.But, though animals are not only the causes of pleasure 
and pain, but are also capable of feeling those sensations 


138 OOP USBIT AKD DEXESIT. [PART Q. 

tlieyare still far from being completeand perfect objects either 
ef gratitude or r68eiitm6n4; ; and those passions still feel, 
that there is something wanting to theiar entire gratificntion. 
Wliat gratitude ^iefly desires, is not only to make the 
l^enefaotor feel pleasure in his turn, but to make him 
QoaBcicnu that be meets witii this reward on account of his 
pMt conduct, to make him pleased with thast conduct, and 
%o> satisfy him that the person upon whcHn he bestowed his 
^ood offices was not unworthy of them. What most of all 
charms us in our benefactor, is the concord between his 
sentiments and our own, with regard to what interests us 
so neaily as the worth of our own character, and the esteem 
that is due to us. We ore delighted to find a person who 
values us as we valtie ourselves, and distinguishes us from 
the rest c^ maukiisd, with an attention not unHke that with 
which we distinguish ourselves. To maintain in him these 
agreeabk and fib4;tering sentiments, is one of the chief ends 
proposed by the returns we are disposed to make to him. 
A generous mind often disdains the interested thought of 
esrtorting new &vours from its benefactor, by what may be 
mkUed the importunities of its gratitude. But to preserve 
SBod to increase his esteem, is an interest which the greatest 
Biiiid dores aot think unwK)rthy of its attention. And this 
is the finmdation of what I formerly observed, that when 
we ^innot enter into the motives of our benefactor, whet: 
his condsict and character appear unwc»thy of our apfaro- 
bfttioa, let his services have been ever so great, our grati- 
tisde is always seuidbly diminished. We are less flattered 
by the distinction ; and to preserve tiie esteem of so weak, 
er so worthless a patron, seems to be an object which does 
not deserve to be pursued for its own ss^e. 

The object, on the contrary, which resenianeQt is chiefly 
intent upon, is not so much to make our enemy feel paia in 
his turn, as to make him conscious that he feels it upon ac- 
•ooDt of his past conduct, to make hiia repent of that con* 


^■eB9 


SECT. ni.J OF MBRZT AMD DBBIEBIT. 139 

duct, a&d to make kim scsasible, that the person whom he 
injured did not deserve to be treated in that manner. What 
chiefly enrages us against the man who injures or insults 
OS, is the little account whidi he seems to make of us, the 
moreasanable preference which he gives to himself above 
us, and that absurd self-love, by which he seems to imagine, 
that other people may be sacrificed at any time, to his con^ 
veniency or his humour* The glaring impropriety of this 
fionduct, the gross insolence and injustice which it seems to 
invdLve in it, o&n shock and exasperate us more than all 
the mifidiief which we have suffered. To bring him back 
to A more juet sense of what is due to other people, to make 
him sensible of what he owes us, and of the wrong that he 
has done to us, is frequently the principal end proposed in 
our revenge, which is always imperfact when it cwuBot ac- 
eomplish this. When our enemy appears to have done us 
no injury, when we are sensible that he acted quite properly, 
that, in his sitiiation, we should have done the same thing, 
and that we deserved from him all the mischief we met 
with ; in that case, if we have the least spark cither of can- 
dour or justice, we can entertain no sort of resentment. 

Before any thing, therefore, can be the complete and pro- 
per object, either of gratitude or resentment, it must possess 
three different qualifications. First, it must be the cause of 
pleasure in the one case, and of pain in the other. Secondly, 
it must be capable of feeling those sensations. And, thirdly, 
it must not only have produced those sensations, but it must 
have produced them from design, and from a design that is 
approved of in the one case, and disapproved of in the other. 
It is by the first qualification that any object is capable of 
exciting those passions : it is by the second, that it is in any 
respect capable of gratifying them : the third qualification 
is not only necessary for their complete satisfaction, but, as 
it gives a pleasure or pain that is both exquisite and pecu- 
liar, it is likewise an additional exciting cause of those 
passions. 


140 OF MERIT AND DEHEfilT. [PA£T II. 

As what ^ves pleasure or pain, therefore, either in one 
way or another, is the sole exciting cause of gratitude and 
resentment ; though the intentions of any person should be 
ever so proper and beneficent, on the one hand, or ever 
so improper and malevolent on the other ; yet, if he has 
failed in producing either the good or the evil which he in- 
tended, as one of the exciting causes is wanting in both 
cases, less gratitude seems due to him in the one, and less 
resentment m the other. And, on the contrary, though in 
the intentions of any person, there was either no laudable 
degree of benevolence on the one hand, or no blameablo 
degree of malice on the other ; yet, if his actions should 
produce either great good or great evil, as one of the excit- 
ing causes takes place upon both these occasions, some 
gratitude is apt to arise towards him in the one, and some 
resentment in the other. A shadow of merit seems to fall 
upon him in the first, a shadow of demerit in the second. 
And, as the consequences of actions are altogether under 
the empire of fortune, hence arises her influence upon the 
sentiments of mankind with regard to merit and demerit. 


SECT. ni.J OF MEBIT AND DEMERIT. 141 


CHAPTER 11. 

Of the Extent of this influence of Fortune, 

The effect of this influence of fortune, is, first, to dimi- 
nish our sense of the merit or demerit of those actions which 
arose from the most laudable or blameable intentions, when 
they fail of producing their proposed effects : and, secondly, 
to increase our sense of the merit or demerit of actions, 
beyond what, is due to the motives or affections from which 
they proceed, when they accidentally give occasion either 
to extraordinary pleasure or pain. 

1. First, I say, though the intentions of any person should 
be ever so proper and beneficent on the one hand, or ever 
so .improper or malevolent on the other, yet, if they fail 
in producing their effects, his merit seems imperfect in the 
one case, and his demerit imcomplete in the other. Nor is 
this irregularity of sentiment felt only by those who are 
immediately affected by the consequences of any action. 
It is felt, in some measure, even by the impartial spectator. 
The man who solicits an office for another, without obtain- 
ing it, is regarded as his friend, and seems to deserve his 
love and affection. But the man who not only solicits, but 
procures it, is more preculiarly considered as his patron and 
benefactor, and is entitled to his respect and gratitude. 
The person obliged, w^ are apt to think, may with some 
justice, imagine himself on a level with the first: but we 
cannot enter into his sentiments, if he does not feel himself 
inferior to the second. It is common indeed to say, th&t 
we are equally obliged to the man who has endeavoured to 
serve us, as to him who actually did so. It is the speech 
which we constantly make upon every unsuccessful attempt 


142 or UESXT AND DEBWM'r; [pi^RT II. 

of this kind ; but which, like all other fine speeches, must 
be understood with a grain of allowance. The sentiments 
which a man of generosity entertains for the friend who 
fails, may often indeed be nearly the same with those which 
he conceives for him who succeeds : and the more generous 
he is, the more nearly will those sentiments approach to an 
exact level. With the truly generous, to be beloved, to be 
esteemed by those wfaon they tkeniBelves t^dnk worthy of 
esteem, gives moire pleasoce, and tbazefby ezBites more gnit- 
titude, than all the advantages which they oan evw expect 
fram those sentiments. When they lose those- adTaatages, 
therefore, diey seem to lose but a trifle, whichi»-B«Bee w<irtb 
regarding. They still, however, lose something.. Tfaeirplei^ 
sure, therefore, and consequently theic gn4itudB,i8]iotpMS- 
fectly complete : and accordingly, if between t^ friend who 
fails, and the friend who succeeds, all other circumstances are 
equal, there will, ev^en in the noblest and best mind, be some 
little difference of affection in hmmr of him who saeeeed& 
Nay, so unjust are mankind in this respect, that though liie.in* 
tended benefit should be procured, yet if ii is not pDocnred 
by the means of a particular benefactor, they are apt to 
liunk that leas gratitude is due to the man, who witii llie 
best intentions in ihe world could do no more tiian help it 
a little forward. As tiior gratitude is in this case divided 
among the different peroons who contributed to their p)ea*> 
sure, a smaller share o£ it seems due to any one. Such a 
person, we hear men eommonly say, intended no doubt tl» 
serve us ; and we really believe exerted himself to the nt- 
most of his abilities for that purpose. We a3*e not, 
ever, obliged to him for ^is benefit ; since, had it not 
for the concurrence of odiers, all that he could hav« done 
would never have brought it about This considerBtloB^ 
tiiiey imagine, should even in the eyes of the impartial 
tator diminish the debt which they owe to him. The 
himself who has unsuccessfully endeavoured to confer a 
benefit, has by no means the same dependency upon the 
gratitude of the man whom he meant to oblige, nor the 


8BCT. m.] OF UEBIT AND DEUESIT. 143 

same sense of bis ornn merit tovrards liim, which ke iv^uld 
have had in the case of success. 

Even the inerit<of tslents and abilities 'which some aeei* 
deat has hlfideoed hm producing their effects, seam^ m 
some measure imperfect, even to tibose who are fully csm^ 
TSDced of their capacity to produce tbem. The general who 
has been hindered by the envy of ministers from gauHmg 
some great adnoaitage over the enemies of his country, ro- 
^rets the loss of the opportunity for cTor after. Nor is it 
only upon accoont of the puWc that he regi^ts it. He kr 
ments that he was hindered from performiiig an action whieli 
would haTC added a new lustee to his character in his own 
eyes, as well as in those of erery other person. It satisfies 
neither himself nor others to reflect lihat the plan or desgn 
was all iiiat depended onhim: /diat no greater capacity was 
required to execute it Ifhan what was aecessary to oonoui 
it : that he was allowed to be every way capable of exeoa* 
ting it, and that had he been permitted to go on, success 
was infallible. He still did not execute it ; and though he 
might deserve all the approbation which is due to a magnani- 
mous and great design, he stiU wanted the aetual nerit of 
hnymg performed a giseot action. To take the management 
of any affair of public concern from the man who has almost 
brought it to a conclusion, is regarded as the most invidi* 
oos injuc^ce. As he had done so much, he sfhould, we 
think, have been allowed to acquire the oompkrte merit «f 
putting an end to it. lit was objected to Pompey, tha^ he 
came in upon the victories of Luoullus, and gathered those 
laurels which were due toihe fortune and valour of another. 
The glory of Lucullus, it seems, was less complete oven in 
Oe <^ion of his own fri^ds, when he was not permitted 
t» £jasiah that conquest which his conduct and courage had 
pot in the power of almost any man to finish. It morti'^ 
an architeet when* his plansaxe either not ejeeeuted- at all, or 
when they are so far altered as to ^oil the effect of i3at 


144 OF MERIT AMD DEMERIT. [pART II. 

btdlding. The plan, however, is all that depends upon the 
architect. The whole of his genius is, to good judges, as 
completely discovered in that as in the actual execution. 
But a plan does not, even to the most intelligent, give the 
same pleasure as a noble and magnificent building. They 
may discover as much both of taste and genius in the one 
as in the other. But their effects are still vastly different, 
and the amusement derived from the first never approaches 
to the wonder and admiration which are sometimes excited 
by the second. We may believe of many men, that their 
talents are superior to those of Caesar and Alexander; 
and that in the same situations they would perform still 
greater actions. In the meantime, however, we do not be- 
hold them with that astonishment and admiration with which 
those two heroes have been regarded in all ages and nations. 
The calm judgments of the mind may approve of them more, 
but they want the splendour of great actions to dazzle and 
transport it. The superiority of virtues and talents has not, 
even upon those who acknowledge that superiority, the same 
effect with the superiority of achievements. 

As the merit of an unsuccessful attempt to do good seems 
thus, in the eyes of ungrateful mankind, to be diminished 
by the miscarriage, so does likewise the denierit of an un- 
successful attempt to do evil. The design to commit a 
crime, how clearly soever it may be proved, is scarce ever 
punished with the same severity as the actual commission 
of it. The case of treason is perhaps the only exception. 
That crime immediately affecting the being of the govern- 
ment itself, the government is naturally more jealous of it 
than of any other. In the punishment of treason, the sove- 
reign resents the injuries which are immediately done to 
himself: in the punishment of other crimes, he resents those 
which are done to other men. It is his own resentment 
which he indulges in the one case : it is that of his subjects 
which by sympathy he enters into in the other. In the first 


SECT. UI.] OF MEBIT AND DEMERIT. liS 

case, therefore, as lie judges in his own cause, he is vety 
apt to be more violent and sanguinary in his punishments 
than the impartial spectator can approve of. His resent- 
ment too rises here upon smaller occasions, and does not 
always, as in other cases, wait for the perpetration of the 
crime, or even for the attempt to commit it. A treasonable 
concert, though nothihg has been done, or even attempt<Bd 
in consequence of it, nay, a treasonable conversation, is in 
many countries punished in the same manner as the actual 
commission of treason. With regard to all other crimes, 
the mere design, upon which no attempt has followed, is 
seldom punished at all, and is never punished severely. A 
criminal design, and a criminal action, it may be said, in- 
deed, do not necessarily suppose the same degree of de- 
pravity, and ought not therefore to be subjected to the 
same punishment. We are capable, it may be said, of re- 
solving, and even of taking measures to execute, many 
things which, when it comes to the point, we feel ourselves 
altogether incapable of executing. But this reason can 
have no place when the design has been carried the length 
of the last attempt. The man, however, who fires a pistol 
at his enemy but misses him, is punished with death by the 
laws of scarce any country. By the old law of Scotland, 
though he should wound him, yet, unless death ensues 
within a certain time, the assassin , is not liable to the last 
punishment. The resentment of mankind, however, runs 
so high against this crime, their terror for the man who 
shews himself capable of committing it, is so great, that the 
mere attempt to commit it ought in all countries to be capital. 
The attempt to commit smaller crimes is almost always 
punished very lightly, and sometimes is not punished at all. 
The thief^ whose hand has been Qjaught in his neighbour's 
pocket before he had taken any thing out of it, is punished 
with ignominy only. If he had got time to take away a 
handkerchief, he would have been put to death. The 
hoQse-breaker, who has been found setting a ladder to his 

L 


146 OB" MEBCr AXD DBMEBIT. [pABT 11, 

Beighbour's window, but bad not got into it, is not exposed 
to ^e capital pumsbment, Tbe attempt to raviab la not pa* 
nisbed as a rape. The attempt to seduce a married womam 
ia not punisbed at all^ ^ougb seduction is punisbed seTerely^ 
Our resentment against tbe person who only attempted to 
do a'miscbief^ is seldom so strong as to bear us out. in iit- 
iioting tbe same pumsbment upon bim, wbicb we sboukl 
bave tbougbt due if be bad actually done it. In tiie oae 
case, tbe joy of our deliverance alleviates our aense of tiia 
atrocity of bis conduct ; in tbe otber, tbe grief of our mis- 
fortune increases it. His real demerit, bowever, is un* 
doubtedly tbe same in bodi cases, since bis intentions were 
equally criminal ; and tbere is in tbis respect, tberefoie, an 
irregularity in tbe sentiments of all men, and a consequent 
leli^ation of discipline, in tbe laws o^ I believe, all nationa, 
of tbe most civilized, as well as of tbe most barbarous. The 
bxunanity of a civilised people disposes tbem either to dis- 
pense witb, or to mitigate punisbments wberever their na- 
tural indication is not goaded on by Ibe consequences of 
the crime. Barbarians, on tbe otber band, when no actual 
oonsbquence baa happened from any action, are not apt to 
be very delicate (rfinqiffiMtive about the motives. 

Tbe person bimsdbf whi^ either from passion or from the 
influence of bad company^ baa resolved, and perhaps taken 
measures, to perpetrate some crime, but who bas.fortunately 
been prevented by an aecident which put it out of his power, 
is sure, if be has any remains of conscience, to regard tbis 
event all his life ai^er as a great and signal deliverance. 
He can never think of it without returning thanks to Heaven 
for having been thus graciously pleased to save bim from 
the guilt in wbick he was just ready to plunge himself, and 
to binder bim from. rendering all the rest of his life a scene 
of horror, remorsey and repentance. But though his bands 
are innocent, he is oonseioin that bis heart is equally guilty 
as if be had actually executed what he was so fully resolTed 


IHSGT. ni.] OF MERIT AND DEMERIT. 147 

Upon* It gives great ease to his conscience, however, ib 
cODstder that the erime was not executed, though he knows 
&it the failure arose from no virtue in hmi., He still con- 
idders himself as less deserviag of punishment and resenU 
Blent ; and this good fortune either diminishes, or takes awaj- 
altogether, all sense of guilt. To remember how much he 
wa» resolved upon it, has no other effect than to make him 
regard his escape as the greater and more miraculous : for 
he stiU fi&acies that he has escaped, and he looks back upon 
the danger to which his peace of mind was exposed, with 
that terror, with which one who is in safety may sometimes 
MMmber the hazard he was in of falling ever a precipice^ 
and shudder with ho]T<»r at tHe thought. 

2* The seeond ^ct of this influence of fortune, is to ia- 
ctMse oar smse of the merit or demerit of actions beyond 
what is due to the motives or afleelion from which they pro*- 
ceed, when they happen to give occasion to extraordinary 
pkasiire M paSii» The agreeable or disagreeable effects of 
the aetion <^n throw a shadow of merit or demerit upon 
iha m§eait^ though in his intention thefe was nothing that 
deserved either praise or blame, or at least that deserved 
thetfi in the degree in which we are apt to .bestow them. 
Thusy even the messenger of bad news is disagreeable to us; 
aady <ffi the eontmty, we feel a sott of gnttitude for the man 
who bringd us good tidings. For a moment we look upon 
Ihem both as the authors, the ono of oTtr good, the other of our 
bad fefftofie^ and regard them in some measure as if they had 
nally broirglii about the events which they only give an 
account of. The first author of awe joy is naturally the ob* 
ject of a transitory gratitude : we embrace him with warmth 
and sficetioiiy and sliould b^ glad, dilring the instant of our 
prosperity, to rewwrd him as for s^e signal service. By 
the eaatotit cl all eottrts, the offieer who brings the news of 
a Tietory is entitted to eonsideraile preferments, and the 
genearal ahrajm didOMfS onor of ht» principal favcmrites 


148 OF MERIT AMD DEliEBlT. [PART II. 

to go upon SO agreeable an errand. Tlie first author of oUr 
sorrow is, on the contrary, just as naturally the object of a 
transitory resentment. We can scarce avoid looking upon 
him with chagrin and uneasiness ; and the rude and brutal 
are apt to vent upon him that spleen which his intelligence 
gives occasion to. Tigranes, King of Armenia, struck off 
the head of the man who brought him the first account of 
the approach of a formidable enemy. To punish in this 
manner the author of bad tidings, seems barbarous and in- 
human : yet, to reward the messenger of good news, is not 
disagreeable to us ; we think it suitable to the bounty of 
kings. But why do we make this difference, since, if there 
is no fault in the one, neither is there any merit in the other? 
It is because any sort of reason seems sufficient to authorize 
the exertion of the social and benevolent afiections ; but it 
requires the most solid and substantial to make us enter into 
that of the unsocial and malevolent. 

But though in general we are averse to enter into the un- 
social and malevolent affections, though we lay it dawn for 
a rule that we ought never to approve of their gratification, 
unless so far as the malicious and unjust intention of the 
person against whom they are directed renders him their 
proper object ; yet, upon some occasions, we relax of this 
severity. When the negligence of one man has occasioned 
some unintended damage to another, we generally enter so 
far into the resentment of the sufferer, as to approve of his 
inflicting a punishment upon the offender much beyond 
what the offence would have appeared to deserve, had no 
such unlucky consequence followed from it. 

There is a degree of negligewe, which would appear to 
deserve some chastisement though it should occasion no 
damage to any body. Thus, if a person should throw a 
large stone over a wall into a. public street without giving 
warning to those who might be passing by, and without 


SECT. IIX.'J OF aiERIT AND DEMERIT. 149 

regarding where it was likely to fall, he would undoubtedly 
deserve some chastisement. A very accurate police would 
punish so absurd an action, even though it had done no 
mischief. The person who has been guilty of it, shews an 
insolent contempt of the happiness and safety of others. 
There is real injustice in his conduct. He wantonly ex- 
poses his neighbour to what no man in his senses would 
choose to expose himself, and evidently wants that sense of 
what is due to his fellow- creatures, which is the basis of 
justice and of society. Gross negligence, therefore, is, in 
the law, said to be almost equal to malicious design.* When 
any unlucky consequences happen from such carelessness, 
the person who has been guilty of it is often punished as if 
he had really intended those consequences ; and his conduct, 
ivhich was only thoughtless and insolent, and what deserved 
fiome chastisement, is considered as atrocious, and as liable 
to the severest punishment. Thus if, by the imprudent 
fiction above mentioned, he should accidentally kill a man, 
he is, by the laws of many countries, particularly by the 
old law of Scotland, liable to the last punishment. And 
though this is no doubt excessively severe, it is not alto- 
gether inconsistent with our natural sentiments. Our just 
indignation against the folly and inhumanity of his conduct 
is exasperated by our sympathy with the unfortunate sufferer. 
Nothing, however, would appear more shocking to our 
natural sense of equity, than to bring a man to the scaffold 
merely for having thrown a stone carelessly into the street 
without hurting anybody. The folly and inhumanity of 
his conduct, however, would in this case be the same ; but 
still our sentiments would be very different. The con- 
sideration of this difference may satisfy us how much the 
indignation even of the spectator is apt to be animated by 
the actual consequences of the action. In cases of this 
kind there will, if I am not mistaken, be found a great de- 

* Lata culpa prope dolnm est. 


150 OF MERIT AMD DEHEBIT. [PART II. 

gree of severity in the laws of almost all nations ; ba 1 huve 
already observed that in those of an opposite kind there 
was a very general relaxation of discipline. 

There is another degree of negligence which does not 
involve in it any sort of injustice. The person who is guilty 
of it treats his neighbour as he treats himself, means no 
harm to any body, and is far from entertaining any insolent 
contempt for the safety and happiness of others. He is not, 
however, so careful and circumspect in his conduct as he 
ought to be, and deserves upon this account some de- 
gree of blame and eensure, but no sort of punishment 
Yet if, by a negligence* of this kind, he should occasion 
some damage to another person, he is by the laws of, I be- 
lieve, all countries, obliged to compensate it And though 
this is no doubt a real punishment, and what no mortal 
would have thought of inflicting upon him, had it not bee^ 
for the unlucky accident which his eonduct gave occasion 
to ; yet this decision of the law is approved of by the natunl 
sentiments of all mankind. Notliing, we think, ean be 
more just than that one man should not sufiW by the care* 
lessness of another ; and that the damage oeeasioned by 
blameable negligence, should be made up by the person wli» 
was guilty of it. 

There is another species of negligenGe,f which oonsislyi 
merely in a want of the most anxious timidity and circum* 
spection with regard to all the possible consequences of our 
actions, The want of diis painful attention, when no bad 
consequences follow from it, is so far from being regarded 
as blameable, that the contrary quality is rather considered 
as such. That timid circumspection which is afraid of every 
thing, is never regarded as a virtue, but as a quality which, 
more than any other, incapacitates for action and business* 
Yet when, from a want of this excessive care, a person 

* Culpa levis. f Culpa levissima. 


SECT, m.] OF MEKIT AND JOEMEBIT. 151 

happens to occasion some damage to another, he is often by 
the law obliged to compensate it. Thus, hj the Aquilian 
law, the man, who not being able to manage a horse that 
had accidentally taken fright, should happen to ride down 
his neighbour's slave, is obliged to compensate the damage. 
When an accident of this kind happens, we are apt to think 
that he ought not to have rode such a horse, and to regard 
his attempting it as an unpardonable levity ; -though with- 
Ofut this accident we should not only have made no such 
reflection, but should have regarded his refusing it as the 
effect of timid weakness, and of an anxiety about merely 
posmUe events, which it is to no purpose to be aware of. 
The person himself^ who by an aeoident even of this kind 
has involuntarily hurt another, seems to have some sense 
of his own ill des^ with regard to him. He naturally 
nins up to the sufferer to express his concern fox what has 
happened, and to make every acknowledgment in his poiwer. . 
If he has any sensibility, he necessarily desires to compen- 
sate the damage, and to do every thing he can to appease 
that animal resentment, which he is sensible will be apt to 
arise in the breast of the sufferer. To make no apology, to 
ofier no atonement, is regarded as the highest brutality. 
Yet why i^ould he make an apology more than any other 
person ? Why should he, since he was equally innocent 
with any other by-stander, be thus singled out from among 
all mankind, to make up for the bad fortune of another ? 
This task would surely never be imposed upon him, did not 
even the impartial spectator feel some indulgence for what . 
y be regarded as the unjust resentment of that athsr* 


15^ OF MERIT AND DEMEBFT. f PART n. 


CHAPTER III. 

Of like final cause of this Irregularity of Sentimenis. 

Such is the effect of the good or bad consequence of 
actions upon tlie sentiments botli of tlie person who performs 
them, and of others ; and thus, fortune, which governs llie 
world, has some influence where we should be least willing 
to allow her any, and directs in some measure the sentiments 
of mankind, with regard to the character and conduct both 
of themselves and otiiers. That the world judges hy the 
event, and not by the design, has been in all ages the com- 
plaint, and is the great discouragemeht of virtue. Every 
body agrees to the general maxim, that as the event does 
not depend on the agent, it ought to have no influence upon 
our sentiments, with regard to the merit or propriety of his 
conduct. But when we come to particidars, we find that 
our sentiments are scarce in any one instance exactly con- 
formable to what this equitable maxim would direct. The 
happy or unprosperous event of any action, is not only apt 
to give us a good or bad opinion of the prudence with which 
it was conducted, but almost always too animates our gra- 
titude or resentment, our sense of the merit or demerit of 
the design. 

Nature, however, when she implanted the seeds of this 
irregularity in the human breast, seems, as upon all other 
occasions, to have intended the happiness and perfection of 
the species. If the hurtfulness of the design, if the ma- 
levolence of the affection, were aloire the causes which ex- 
cited our resentment, we should feel all the furies of that 
passion against any person in whose breast we suspected or 
believed such designs or affections were harboured, though 


SECT. ni.l OF MEBIT AND DEMESIT. 153 

they had never broken out into any actions. Sentiments, 
thoughts, intentions, would become the objects of punish- 
ment ; and if the indignation of mankind run as high against 
them as against actions ; if the baseness of the thought 
which had given birth to no action, seemed in the eyes of 
the world as much to call aloud for vengeance as the base- 
ness of the action, every court of judicature would become 
a real inquisition. There would be no safety for the most 
innocent and circumspect conduct. Bad wishes, bad views, 
bad designs, might still be suspected ; and while these ex- 
cited the same indignation with bad conduct, while bad in- 
tentions were as much resented as bad actions, they would 
equally expose the person to punishment and resentment. 
Actions, therefore, which either produce actual evil, or at- 
tempt to produce it, and thereby put us in the immediate 
fear of it, are by the Author of nature rendered the only pro- 
per and approved objects of human punishment and resent- 
ment. Sentiments, designs, affections, though it is from 
these that according to cool reason human actions derive 
their whole merit or demerit, are placed by the great Judge 
of hearts beyond the limits of every human jurisdiction, and 
are reserved for the cognizance of his own unerring tribunal- 
Tiiat necessary rule of justice, therefore, that men in this 
life are liable to punishment for their actions only, not for 
their designs and intentions, is founded upon this salutary 
and useful irregularity in human sentiments concerning 
merit or demerit, which at first sight appears so absurd and 
unaccountable. But every part of nature, when attentively 
surveyed, equally demonstrates the providential care of its 
Author ; and we may admire the wisdom and goodness 
of God even in the weakness and folly of men. 

Nor is that irregularity of sentiments altogether without 
its utility, by which the merit of an unsuccessful attempt 
to serve, and much more that of mere good inclinations and 
kind wishes, appears to be imperfect. Man was made for 


154 OF MEKIT AND DEMBmj. [pttT. H. 

aclion, and to promote hy the exertion of Lis faculties saeh 
changes in the external circumstances both of himself and 
others, as may seem most favouzable to the happiness of all. 
He must not be satisfied with indolent benevoienee, nor 
fancy himself the friend of mankind, because in his heait 
he wishes well to the prosperity of the world. That he may 
call forth the whole vigour of his soul, and strain every 
nerve, in order to produce those ends which it is the purpose 
of his being to advance. Nature has taught him, that neither 
himself nor mankind can be fully satisfied with his conduct^ 
nor bestow upon it the full measure of applause, unless he 
has actually produced them. He is made to know, that the 
praise of good intentions, withott the merit of good offioen, 
will be but of little avail to excite either the loudest ^bcda-^ 
mations of the world, or even the highest degree of self- 
applause. The man who has performed no siugle action of 
importance, bnt whose whole ^conversation and deportment 
express the justest, the noblest, and most generous senti* 
ments, can be entitled to demand no very high reward, even 
though his inutility should be owing to nothing but the 
want of an opportunity to serve. We can still refuse it him 
witbcmt blame. We can still ask him, What haveyou done ? 
What actual service can you produce, to entitte you to so 
great a recompence ? We esteem you <and love yon ; but 
we owe you nothing. To reward indeed that latent virtue 
which has been useless only for want of on oppofftonity t» 
serve, to bestow upon it those honours and preferments, 
which, though in some measure it may be said to deserve 
them, it could not with propriety have insisted upon, is the 
efiect of the most divine benevolence. To punish, on the 
contrary, for the affections of the heart-only, where nocnme 
has been committed, is the most insolent and barbarous 
t3rranny. The benevolent affections seem to deserve most 
praise, when they do not wait till it becomes almost acrime 
for them not to exert themselves. The malevolent, on the 
^outrary, can scarce be too tardy, too alow, or deliberote. 


SECT III.] OV MEBIT AND DEMESIT. 155 

It is evea of considerable importoBoe thi^ the evil which 
is done without design should be regarded as a misfbrtmie 
to the doer as well as to the su£Perer. Man is thereby taught 
to reverence the happiness of his brethren, to tremble lest 
he should, even unknowingly, do any thing that 'can hurt 
them, and to dread that animal resentment which, he feeb, 
IB ready to burst out against him, if he should, without de- 
sign, be the unhappy instrument of their calamity. As, in 
the ancient heathen religion, that holy ground which had 
been consecrated to some god, was not to be trod upon but 
upon solemn and necessary occasions, and the man who had 
even ignorantly violajbed it, became piacular from that mo- 
ment, and, until proper atonement should be made, incurred 
the vengeance of that powerful and invisible being to whom 
it had been set apart ; so, by the wisdom of Nature, the 
happiness of every innocent man is, in the same manner, 
rendered holy, consecrated, and hedged round against the 
approach of every other man ; not to be wantonly trod upon, 
not even to be, in any respect, igno?antly and involuntarily 
violated, without requiring some expiation, some atonement 
in proportion to the greatness of such undesigned violation. 
A man of humanity, who accidentally, and without the 
smallest degree of blameable negligence, has been the cause 
of the death of another man, feels himself piacular, though 
not guilty. During his whole life he considers this aecir 
dent as one of the greatest misfortunes that eauld have be- 
fallen him. If the family of the slain is poor, and he him- 
self in tolerable circumatanoes, he immediately takes them 
under his protection, and without any other merit, thii^ 
them entitled to every degree of favour and kindness. If 
they are in better circumstances, he endeavours by evexy 
sabmiasion, byeveryexpression of sorrow, byrenderingthem 
every good office which he can devise, or they accept o^ 
to atone for what has happened, and to propitiate, as radiek 
as pqsaible, their, perhaps natural, though no doubt melt 


156 OF MERIT AND DEXEBIT. PART IX. 

unjust resentment for the great, ihougli involuntary, offence 
which he has given them. 

The distress which an innocent person feels, who, by some 
accident, has been led to do something which, if it had been 
done with knowledge and design, would have justly ex- 
posed him to the deepest reproach, has given occasion to 
some of the finest and most interesting scenes both of the 
ancient and of the modem drama. It is this fallacious 
sense of guilt, if I may call it so, which constitutes the 
whole distress of (Edipus and Jocasta upon the Greek, of 
Monimia and Isabella upon the English, theatre. They are 
all of them in the highest degree piacular, though not one 
of them is in the smallest degree guilty. 

Notwithstanding, however, all these seeming irregulari- 
ties of sentiment, if man should unfortunately either give 
occasion to those evils which he did not intend, or fail in 
producing that good which he intended. Nature has not 
left his innocence altogether without consolation, nor his 
virtue altogether without reward. He then calls to his as- 
sistance that just and equitable maxim, that those events 
which did not depend upon our conduct, ought not to 
diminish the esteem that is due to us. He summons up 
his whole magnanimity and firmness of soul, and strives to 
regard himself, not in the light in which he at present ap- 
pears, but in that in which he ought to appear, in which he 
would have appeared had his generous designs been crown- 
ed with success, and in which he would still appear, not- 
withstanding their miscarriage, if the sentiments of mankind 
were either altogether candid and equitable, or even per- 
fectly consistent with themselves. The more candid and 
humane part of mankind entirely go along with the efforts 
which he thus makes to support himself in his own opinionl 
They exert their whole generosity and greatness of mind, 


SECT, m.] OP MERIT AND DEMERIT. 157 

to correct in themselves this irregularitj of human nature, 
and endeavour to regard his unfortunate magnanimity in 
the same light in which, had it been successful, they would, 
without any such generous exertion, have naturally been 
disposed to consider it. 


THE 


THEORY OF MORAL SENTIMENTS. 


yart €Mrl>. 


OF THE FOUNDATION OF OUR JUDGMENTS 


coNCEBHnra oub 


OWN SENTIMENTS AND CONDUCT, AND OF THE 

SENSE OF DUTY. 


CHAPTER I. 

Of the Frvnicxj^ of Self approbation and of SelfeBs^ 

approbation. 

In the two foregoing parts of this discourse, I have 
chiefly considered the origin and foundation of our judg- 
ments concerning the sentiments and conduct of others. 
I come now to consider more particularly the origin of 
those concerning our own. 

The principle by which we naturally either approve or dis- 
approve of our own conduct, seems to be altogether the same 
with that by which we exercise the like judgments concerning 
the conduct of other people. We either approve or disapprove 
of the conduct of another man, according as we feel that, when 
we bring his case home to ourselves, we either can or cannot 
entirely sympathize with the sentiments and motives which 
directed it. And, in the same manner, we either approve or 
disapprove of our own conduct, according as we feel that, 
when we place ourselves in the situation of another man, and 
view it, as it were, with his eyes and from his station, we 
either can or cannot entirely enter into and sympathize with 
the sentiments and motives which influenced it. We can 
never survey our own sentiments and motives, we can never 
form any judgment concerning them, unless we remove 
ourselves, as it were, from our own natural station, and en- 
deavour to view them as at a certain distance from us. But. 
we can do this in no other way than by endeavouring to 
view them with the eyes of other people, or as other people 
are likely to view them. Whatever judgment we can form 
concerning them, accordingly, must always bear some 
secret reference, either to what are, or to what, upon a cer- 


162 OF THE SENSE [PART HI. 

tain condition, would be, or to what, we imagine, ought to 
be the judgment of others. We endeavour to examine our 
own conduct as we imagine any other fair and impartial 
spectator would examine it. If, upon placing ourselves in 
his situation, we thoroughly enter into all the passions and 
motives which influenced it, we approve of it, by sympathy 
with the approbation of this supposed equitable judge. If 
otherwise, we enter into his disapprobation, and condemn it. 

Were it possible that a human creature could grow up to 
manhood in some solitary place, without any communica- 
tion with his own species, .he could no more think of his 
own character, of the propriety or demerit of his own senti- 
ments and conduct, of the beauty or deformity of his own 
mind, than of the beauty or deformity of his own face. All 
these are objects which he cannot easily see, which naturally 
he does not look at, and with regard to which he is provided 
with no mirror which can present them to his view. Bring 
him into society, and he is immediately provided with the 
mirror which he wanted before. It is placed in the counte- 
nance and behaviour of those he lives with, which alwaysr 
mark when they enter into, and when they disapprove of his 
sentiments ; and it is here that he first views the propriety 
and impropriety of his own passions, the beauty and defor^ 
mity of his own mind. To a man who from his birth was a 
Granger to society, the objects of his passions, the external 
bodies which either pleased or hurt him, would occupy his 
whole attention. The passions themselves, the desires or 
aversions, the joys or sorrows, which those objects excited^ 
though of all things the most immediately present to him, 
could scarce ever be the objects of his thoughts. The idea 
of them could never interest him so much as to call upon 
his attentive consideration. The consideration of his joy 
could in him excite no new joy, nor that of his sorrow any 
new sorrow, though the consideration of the causes of those 
passions might often excite both. Bring him into society, 


CHAP. I.] OF DUTY. 103^ 

and all his own passions will immediately become tbe eanses 
of new passions. He will observe that mankind approve of 
some of them, and are disgusted hj others. He will be 
elevated in the one case, and cast down in the other ; hia 
desires and aversions, his joys and sorrows, will now often 
become the causes of new desires and new aversions, new 
joys and new sorrows : they will now, therefore, interest 
him deeply, and often call upon his most attentive con- 
sideration. 

Our first ideas of personal beauty and deformity are 
drawn ifrom the shape and appearance of others, not from our 
own. We soon become sensible, however, that others exer- 
cise the same criticism upon us. We are pleased when 
they approve of our figure, and are disobliged when they 
seem to be disgusted. We become anxious to know how 
far our appearance deserves either their blame or approba- 
tion. We examine our persons limb by limb, and by plac- 
ing ourselves before a looking-glass, or by some such ex- 
pedient, endeavour, as much as possibly, to view ourselves 
at the distance and with the eyes of other people. If, after 
this examination, we are satisfied with our own appearance, 
we can more easily support the most disadvantageous judg- 
ments of others. If, on the contrary, we are sensible that we 
are the natural objects of distaste, every appearance of their 
disapprobation mortifies us beyond all measure. A man who 
is tolerably handsome, will allow you to laugh at any little 
irregularity in his person ; but all such jokes are commonly 
nnsupportable to one who is really deformed. It is evident, 
however, that we are anxious about our own beauty and de- 
formity, only upon account of its eff*ect upon others. If we 
had no connection with society, we should be altogether in- 
different about either. 

In the same manner our first moral criticisms are exer- 
cised upon the characters and conduct of other people ; and 


164 OV THE SENSE [PABT. HI. 

we are all very forward to observe how each of these affects 
us. But we soon learn, that other people are equally frank 
with regard to our own. We become anxious to know how 
&r we deserve their censure or applause, and whether to them 
we must necessarily appear those agreeable or disagreeable 
creatures which they represent us. We begin, upon this 
account, to examine our own passions and conduct, and to 
consider how these must appear to them, by considering how 
they would appear to us if in their situation. We suppose 
ourselves the spectators of our own behaviour, and endeavour 
to imagine what effect it would, in this light, produce upon 
us. This is the only looking-glass by which we can, in some 
measure, with the eyes of other people, scrutinize the pro- 
priety of our own conduct. If in this view it pleases us, we 
are tolerably satisfied. We can be more indifferent about 
the applause, and, in some measure, despise the censure of 
the world ; secure that, however misunderstood or misrepre- 
sented, we are the natural and proper objects of approbation* 
On the contrary, if we are doubtful about it, we are often, 
upon that very account, more anxious to gain their approba- 
tion, and, provided we have not already, as they say, shaken 
hands with infamy, we are altogether distracted at the 
thoughts of their censure, which then strikes us with double 
severity. 

When I endeavour to examine my own conduct, when I 
endeavour to pass sentence upon it, and either to approve or 
condemn it, it is evident that, in all such cases, I divide 
myself, as it were, into two persons ; and that I, the exa- 
miner and judge, represent a different character from that 
other I, the person whose conduct is examined into and 
judged of. The first is the spectator, whose sentiments 
with regard to my own conduct I endeavour to enter into, 
by placing myself in his situation, and by considering how 
it would appear to me, when seen from that particu- 
lar point of view. The second is the agent, the person 


CEAP. l] of duty. 18S 

whom I properly call myself, and of whose conduct, under 
the character of a spectator, I was endeavouring to form 
some opinion. The first is the judge ; the second the person 
judged of. But that the judge should, in every respect, 
he the same with the person judged of, is as impossible as 
that the cause should, in every respect, be the same with the 
efiect. 

To be amiable and to be meritorious ; that is, to deserve 
love and to deserve reward, are the great characters of vir* 
tue ; and to be odious and punishable, of vice. But all 
these characters have an immediate reference to the senti^ 
ments of others. Virtue is not said to be amiable, or to be 
meritorious, because it is the object of its own love, or of 
its own gratitude; but because it excites those sentiments 
in other men. The consciousness that it is the object of 
such favourable regards, is the source of that inward tran- 
quillity and self-satisfaction with which it is naturally at- 
tended, as the suspicion of the contrary gives occasion i9 
the torments of vice. What so great happiness as to be be- 
loved, and to know that we deserve to be beloved ? What 
.80 great misery as to be hated, and to know that we desenm 
to be hated? 


166 OF THE HISNSE [PABT ZXI. 


CHAPTER 11. 

€]ftke love ofPrakej and of that of Praise^worthineas ; and 
of the dread of blame, and of that of Btame-wortkinesa^ 

Man naturally desires, not only to be loved, bat to be 
lovely ; or to be that thing wbich is the natural and proper 
object of love. He naturally dreads, not only to be bated, 
but to be hateful ; or to be that thing which is the natural 
and proper object of hatred. He desires not only praise, 
but praise* worthiness ; or to be that thing which, though it 
should be praised by nobody, is, however, the natural and 
proper object of praise. He dreads, not only blame, but 
blame-worthiness; or to be that thing which, though it 
should be blamed by nobody, is, however, the natural and 
proper object of blame. 

The love of praise-tvorthiness is by no means derived al- 
together from the love of praise. Those two principles^ 
though they resemble one another, though they are con- 
nected, and often blended with one another, are yet, in 
many respects, distinct and independent of one another. 

The love and admiration which we naturally conceive for 
those whose character and conduct we approve of, neces- 
sarily dispose us to desire to become ourselves the objects of 
the like agreeable sentiments, and to be as amiable and as 
admirable as those whom we love and admire the most 
Emulation, the anxious desire that we ourselves should 
excel, is originally founded in our admiration of the excel- 
lence of others. Neither can we be satisfied with being 
merely admired for what other people are admired. We 
must at least believe ourselves to be admirable for what 


CBAP 11.] OF DUTY. 167 

they are admirable. Boti ^^ order to attain this satisfac- 
tion, we must become the impartial spectators of our own 
character and conduct. We must endeavour to view them 
with the eyes of other people, or as other people are likely 
to view them. When seen in this light, if they appear to 
us as we wish, we are happy and contented. But it greatly 
confirms this happiness and contentment when we find that 
other people, viewing them with those very ey^ with which 
we, in imagination only, were endeavouring to view them, 
see them precisely in the same light in which we ourselves 
liad seen them. Their approbation necessarily confirms our 
own self-«pprobation. Their praise necessarily strengthens 
our own sense of our own praise- worthiness. In this case, so 
far i& the love of praise worthiness from being derived al- 
together from that of praise, that the love of praise seems, 
at least in a great measure, to be derived from that of 
praise- worthiness* 

The most sincere praise can give little pleasure when it 
cannot be considered as some sort of proof of praise worthi- 
ness. It is by no means sufficient that, from ignorance or 
jnistake, esteem and admiration should, in some way or 
other, be bestowed upon us. If we are conscious that we 
do not deserve to be so favourably thought of, and that if 
the truth were known, we should be regarded with very 
different sentiments, our satisfaction is far from being com- 
plete. The man who applauds us either for actions which 
we did not perform, or for motives which had no sort of 
infiuence upon our conduct, applauds not us, but another 
person. We can derive no sort of satisfaction from his 
praises. To us they should be more mortifying than any 
censure, and should perpetually call to our minds the most 
humWng of all reflections, the reflection of what we ought 
to be, but what we are not. A woman who paints could 
derive, one should imagine, but little vanity from tbe cora- 
plinaents that are paid to her complexion. These, v^ 
sLould expect, ought rather to put her in mind of the senti- 


168 OF THE SENSE [PABT lU. 

ments which her real complexion would excite, and mortify 
her the more by the contrast. To be pleased with such 
groundless applause is a proof of the most superficial levity 
and weakness. It is what is properly called vanity, and is 
the foundation of the most ridiculous and contemptible 
vices, the vices of affectation and common lying ; follies 
which, if experience did not teach us how common they 
are, one should imagine the least spark of common sense 
would save us from. The foolish liar, who endeavours to 
excite the admiration of the company by the relation of 
adventures which never had any existence ; the important 
coxcomb, who gives himself airs of rank and distinction 
which he well knows he has no just pretensions to ; are 
both of them, no doubt, pleased with the applause which 
they fancy they meet with. But their vanity arises from 
so gross an illusion of the imagination, that it is difficult 
to conceive how any rational creature should be imposed 
upon by it. When they place themselves in the situation 
of those whom they fancy they have decewred, they are 
struck with the highest admiration for their own persons. 
They look upon themselves, not in that light in which, they 
know, they ought to appear to their companions, but in 
that which they believe their companions actuallylook upon 
them. Their superficial weakness and trivial folly hinder 
them from ever turning their eyes inwards, or from seeing 
themselves in that despicable point of view in which their 
own consciences must tell them that they would appear 
to every body, if the real truth should ever come to be 
known. 

As ignorant and groundless praise can give no solid joy, 
no satisfaction that will bear any serious examination, 80« 
on the contrary, it often gives real comfort to reflect, that 
though no praise should actually be bestowed upon us, our 
conduct, however, has been such as to deserve it, and has 
been in every respect suitable to those measures and rules 


CHAP, n.] OF DUTY. 169 

by which praise and approbation are naturallj and com- 
monly bestowed. We are pleased, not only with praise, 
bat with having done what is praiseworUiy. We. are 
pleased to think that we have rendered ourselves the natural 
objects of approbation, though no approbation should ever 
actually be bestowed upon us : and we are mortified to 
reflect that we have justly merited the blame of those we 
live withy though that sentiment should never actually be 
exerted against us. The man who is conscious to himself 
that he has exactly observed those measures of conduct 
which experience informs him are generally agreeable, 
reflects with satisfaction on the propriety of his own be- 
haviour. When he views it in the light in which the im- 
partial spectator would view it, he thoroughly enters into 
all the motives which influenced it. He. looks back upon 
every part of it with pleasure and approbation, and though 
mankind should never be acquainted with what he has 
done, he regards himself, not so much according to the 
light in which they actually regard him, as according to 
that in which they would regard him if they were better 
informed. He anticipates the applause and admiration 
which, in this case, would be bestowed upon him ; and he 
applauds and admires himself by sympathy with sentiments, 
which do not indeed actually take place, but which the 
ignorance of the public alone hinders from taking place, 
which he knows are the natural and ordinary effects of such 
conduct, which his imagination strongly connects with it, 
and which he has acquired a habit of conceiving as some- 
thing that naturally and in propriety ought to follow from 
it. Men have voluntarily thrown away life to acquire after 
death a renown which they could no longer enjoy. Their 
imagination, in the meantime, anticipated that fame which 
was in future times to be bestowed upon them. Those 
applauses which they were never to hear rung in their ears; 
the thoughts of that admiration, whose effects they were 
never to feel, played about their hearts, banished from their 


170 OF THB SBli8E [PABT IQ. 

breasts the strongest of all natiml feaxai^ and transported 
them to peHbrm actions which seem almost beycmd the reach 
of human nature* But in point of reality there is surely no 
great diffisrenoe between that approbation which is not to 
be bestowed till we can no longer enjoy it, and that which, 
•indeed, is never to be bestowed, but which would be be<- 
stowed, if the world was ever made to understand properly 
the real circumstances of our behaviour. If the one often 
produces such violent effects, we cannot wonder that the 
other should always be highly regarded. 

Nature, when she formed man for society, endowed him 
with an original desire to please, and an original aversion 
to offend his brethren. She taught him to feel pleasure in 
their favourable, and pain in their un&vourable regard. 
She rendered their approbation most flattering and most 
agreeable to him for its own sake ; and their disapprobation 
most mortifying and most offensive. 

But this desire of the approbation, and this aversion 
to tiie disapprobation of his brethren, would not alone 
have rendered him fit for that society for which he was 
made. Nature, accordingly, has endowed him, not only 
with a desire of being approved of, but with a desire of 
being what ought to be approved of; or of being what he 
himself approves of in other men. The first desire could 
only have made him wish to appear to be fit for society. 
The second was necessary in order to render him anxious 
to be really fit. The first could only have prompted him 
to the affectation of virtue, and to the concealment of vice. 
The second was necessary in order to inspire him with the 
real love of virtue, and with the real abhorrence of vice. 
In every well-informed mind this second desire seems to 
be the strongest of the two. It is only the weakest and 
most superficial of mankind who can be much delighted 
with that praise which they themselves know to be aUo- 


CHAP, n.] OP DUTY. 171 

gether unmerited. A weak man may sometimes be pleased 
with it, bat a wise man rejects it upon all occasions. But^ 
tibough a wise man feels little pleasure from praise where 
he knows there is no praiseworthiness, be often feek the 
highest in doing wbat be knows to be praiseworthy, though 
he knows equally well that no praise is ever to be bestowed 
upon it To obtain the approbation of mai^ind, where no 
approbation is due, can never be an object of any impor- 
tance to him. To obtain that approbation where it is really 
due, may sometimes be an object of no great importance to 
him. But to be that thing which deserves approbatioQ| 
must always be an object of the highest. 

To desire, or even to accept of praise, where no praise 
is due, can be the effect only of the most contemptible 
vanity. To desire it where it is really due, is to desire no 
more than that a most essential act of justice should be 
done to us. The love of just fame, of true glory, even for 
its own sake, and independent of any advants^e which he 
•can derive from it, is not uuworthy even of a wise mam 
He sometimes, however, neglects, and even despises it; 
and he is never more apt to do so than when he has the 
most perfect assurance of the perfect propriety of every part 
of his own conduct. His self- approbation, in this ^ase, 
stands in need of no confirmation from the approbation of 
other men. It is alone sufficient, and he is contented with 
it. This self-approbation, if not the only, is at least the 
principal object, about which he can or ought to be anxious. 
The love of it is the love of virtue. 

As the love and admiration which we naturally conceive 
for some characters dispose us to wish to become ourselves 
the proper objects of such agreeable sentiments ; so the 
hatred and contempt which we as naturally conceive for 
others, dispose us, perliaps still more strongly, to dread the 
very thought of resembling them in any respect. Neither 


172 or THE SENSE [part nu 

is it, in this case too, so much the thought of being hated 
and despised that we are afraid of, as that of being hateM 
and despicable. We dread the thought of doing any thing 
which can render us the just and proper objects of the 
hatred and contempt of our fellow-creatures ; even though 
we had the most perfect security that those sentiments were 
never actually to be exerted against us. The man who 
has broken through all those measures of conduct which 
can alone render him agreeable to mankind, though he 
should have the most perfect assurance that what he had 
done was for ever to be concealed from every human eye, 
it is all to no purpose. When he looks back upon it, and 
views it in the light in which the impartial spectator would 
view it, he finds that he can enter into none of the motives 
which influenced it. He is abashed and confounded at the 
thoughts of it, and necessarily feels a very high degree of 
that shame which he would be exposed to, if his actions 
should ever come to be generally known. His imagination, 
in this case, too, anticipates the contempt and derision from 
which nothing saves him but the ignorance of those he lives 
with. He still feels that he is the natural object of these 
sentiments, and still trembles at the thought of what he 
would suffer, if they were ever actually exerted against 
him. But if what he had been guilty of was not merely 
one of those improprieties which are the objects of simple 
disapprobation, but one of those enormous crimes which ex- 
cite detestation and resentment, he could never think of it 
as long as he had any sensibility left, without feeling all the 
agony of horror and remorse; and though he could be assured 
that no man was ever to know it, and could even bring him- 
self to believe that there was no God to revenge it, he would 
still feel enough of both these sentiments to embitter the 
whole of his life : he would still regard himself as the natural 
object of the hatred and indignation of all his fellow-crea- 
tures; and if his heart was not grown callous by the habit of 
crimes, he could not think without terror and astonishment 


CHAP, n.] OP DUTY. 173 

even of the manner in which mankind would look upon him, 
of what would be the expression of their countenance and 
of their eyes, if the dreadful truth should ever come to be 
known. These natural pangs of an affrighted conscience 
are the demons, the avenging furies, which, in this life, 
haunt the guilty, which allow them neither quiet nor repose, 
which often drive them to despair and distraction, from which 
no assurance of secrecy can protect them, from which no prin- 
ciple of irreligion can entirely deliver them, and from which 
nothing can free them bat the vilest and most abject of all 
states, a complete insensibility to honour and infamy, to vice 
and virtue. Men of the most detestable characters, who, in 
the execution of the most dreadful crimes, had taken their 
measures so coolly as to avoid even the suspicion of guilt, 
have sometimes been driven, by the horror of their situation, 
to discover, of their own accord, what no human sagacity 
could ever have investigated. By acknowledging their guilt, 
by submitting themselves to the resentment of their offend- 
ed fellow-citizens, and, by thus satiating that vengeance, of 
which they were sensible that they had become the proper 
objects, they hoped by their death to reconcile themselves, 
at least in their own imagination, to the natural sentiments 
of mankind ; to be able to consider themselves as less worthy 
of hatred and resentment; to atone, in some measure, for their 
crimes, and, by thus becoming the objects, rather of compas- 
sion than of horror, if possible to die in peace, and with the 
forgiveness of all their fellow-creatures. Compared to what 
they felt before the discovery, even the thought of this, it 
seems, was happiness. 

In such cases, the horror of blameworthiness seems, even 
in persons who cannot be suspected of any extraordinary 
delicacy or sensibility of character, completely to conquer 
the dread of blame. In order to allay that horror, in order 
to pacify, in some degree, the remorse of their own con- 
Bciences, they voluntarily submitted themselves both to the 


174 OF THE SENSE [pART TIL 

leproach and to the punishment which they knew were dae 
to their crimes, but which, at the same time, they might 
easily have avoided. 

They are the most frivolous and superficial of mankmd 
only who can be much delighted with that praise which they 
themselves know to be altogether unmerited. Unmerited 
reproach, however, is frequently capable of mortifying very^ 
severely even men of more than ordinary constancy. Men 
of the most ordinary constancy, indeed, easily learn to de- 
spise those foolish tales which are so frequently circulated 
in society, and which, from their own absurdity and false- 
hood, never fail to die away in the course of a few weeks, 
or of a few days. But an innocent man, though of a more 
than ordinary constancy, is often, not only shocked, but most 
severely mortified by the serious, though false, imputation 
of a crime ; especially when that imputation happens un- 
fortunately to be supported by some circumstances which 
give it an air of probability. He is humbled to find that any 
body should think so meanly of his character as to suppose 
him capable of being guilty of it. • Though perfectly con- 
scious of his own innocence, the very imputation seems often, 
even in his own imagination, to throw a shadow of disgrace 
and dishonour upon his character. His just indignation, 
too, at so very gross an injury, which, however, it may fre- 
quently be improper, and sometimes even impossible to re- 
venge, is itself a very painful sensation. There is no greater 
tormentor of the human breast than violent resentment which 
cannot be gratified. An innocent man, brought to the scaf- 
fold by the false imputation of an infamous or odious crime, 
suffers the most cruel misfortune which it is possible for in- 
nocence to suffer. The agony of his mind may, in this case, 
frequently be greater than that of those who suffer for the like 
crimes, of which they have been actually guilty. Profligate 
criminals, such as common thieves and highwaymen, have 
frequently little sense of the baseness of their own conduct, 


CHIP, n.] OP DUTY. 175 

and consequently no remorse. Without troubling them- 
selves about the justice or injustice of the punishment^ thej 
have always been accustomed to look upon the gibbet as a 
lot very likely to fall to them. When it does fall to them, 
therefore, they consider themselves only as not quite so lucky 
as some of their companions, and submit to their fortune, 
without any other uneasiness than what may arise from the 
fear of death ; a fear which, even by such worthless wretcheS| 
we frequently see, can be so easily, and so very completely 
conquered. The innocent man, on the contrary, over and 
above the uneasiness which this fear may occasion, is tor-* 
mented by his own indignation at the injustice which has 
been done to him. He is struck with horror at the thoughts 
of the infamy which the punishment may shed upon his 
memory, and foresees, with the most exquisite anguish, that 
he is hereafter to be remembered by his dearest friends and 
relations, not with regret and affection, but with shame, and 
even with horror for his supposed disgraceful conduct : and 
the shades of death appear to close round him with a darker 
and more melancholy gloom than naturally belongs to them* 
Such fatal accidents, for the tranquillity of mankind, it is to 
be hoped, happenveryrarely in any country ; but they happen 
sometimes in all countries, even in those where justice is, in 
general, very well administered. The unfortunate Galas, a 
man of much more than ordinary constancy (broken upon the 
wheel and burnt at Tholouse for the supposed murder of his 
own son, of which he was perfectly innocent), seemed, with 
his last breath, to deprecate, not so much the cruelty of the 
punishment as the disgrace which the imputation might bring 
upon his memory. After he had been broken, and was just 
going to be thrown into the fire, the monk who attended the 
execution, exhorted him to confess the crime for which he had 
been condemned. My father, said Galas, can you your- 
self bring yourself to believe that I am guilty ? 

To persons in such unfortunate circumstances, that humble 


176 OP THE SENSE [PART III. 

philosophy which confines its views to this life, can afford, 
perhaps, but little consolation. Every thing that could ren- 
der either life or death respectable is taken from them. They 
are condemned to death and to everlasting infamy. Religion 
can alone afford them any effectual comfort. She alone can 
tell them, that it is of little importance what man may think 
of their conduct, while the all-seeing Judge of the world ap- 
proves of it. She alone can present to them the view of 
another world ; a world of more candour, humanity, and 
justice, than the present ; where their innocence is in due 
time to be declared, and their virtue to be finally rewarded : 
and the same great principle which can alone strike terror 
into triumphant vice, affords the only effectual consolation 
to disgraced and insulted innocence. 

In smaller offences, as well as in greater crimes, it fre- 
quently happens that a person of sensibility is much more 
hurt by the unjust imputation than the real criminal is by 
the actual guilt. A woman of gallantry laughs even at the 
well-founded surmises which are circulated concerning her 
conduct. The worst-founded surmise of the same kind is 
a mortal stab to an innocent virgin. The person who is de- 
liberately guilty of a disgraceful action, we may lay it down, 
I believe, as a general rule, can seldom have much sense of 
the disgrace ; and the person who is habitually guilty of it, 
can scarce ever have any. 

When every man, even of middling understanding, so 
readily despises unmerited applause, how it comes to pass 
that unmerited reproach should often be capable of mortify- 
ing so severely men of the soundest and best judgment, may 
perhaps deserve some consideration. 

Pain, I have already had occasion to observe, is, ia 
almost all cases, a more pungent sensation than the opposite 
and correspondent pleasure. The one almost always 


CHAP, n.] OP DUTY'. 177 

depresses us much more below the ordinary, or what may 
be called the natural state of our happiness, than the other 
ever raises us above it. A man of sensibility is apt 
to be more humiliated by just censure than he is ever ela- 
vated by just applause. Unmerited applause a wise man 
rejects with contempt upon all occasions ; but he often feek 
very severely the injustice of unmerited censure. By suf- 
fering himself to be applauded for what he has not perform- 
ed, by assuming a merit which does not belong to him, he 
feels that he is guilty of a mean falsehood, and deserves, 
not the admiration, but the contempt, of those very persons 
who, by mistake, had been led to admire him. It may, 
perhaps, give him some well-founded pleasure to find that he 
has been, by many people, thought capable of performing 
what he did not perform. But, though he may be obliged 
to his Mends for their good opinion, he would think iiim- 
self guilty of the greatest baseness if he did not immediately 
undeceive them. It gives him little pleasure to look upon 
himself in the light in which other people actually look upon 
him, when he is conscious that, if they knew the truth, they 
would look upon him in a very different light. A weak 
man, however, is often much delighted with viewing himself 
in this false and delusive light. He assumes the merit of 
every laudable action that is ascribed to him, and pretends 
to that of many which nobody ever thought of ascribing to 
him. He pretends to have done what he never did, to have 
written what another wrote, to have invented what another 
discovered ; and is led into all the miserable vices of pla- 
giarism and common lying. But though no man of mid. 
dling good sense can derive much pleasure from the imputa- 
tion of a laudable action which he never performed, yet 'a 
wise man may suffer great pain from the serious imputation 
of a crime which he never committed. Nature, in this 
case, has rendered the pain not only more pungent than 
the opposite and correspondent pleasure, but she has reft- 
dered it so in a much greater than the ordinary degree. A 

N 


178 OF THE 8EK3E [PABT HI. 

denial rids a man at once of the foolish and ridiculona 
pleasure ; but it will not always rid him of the pain. When 
he refuses the merit which is ascribed to him, nobody doubts 
his yeracity^ It may be doubted when he denies the crime 
which he is accused of. He is at once enraged at the false- 
hood of the imputation, and mortified to find that any credit 
should be given to it He feels that his character is not 
sufficient to protect him. He feels that his brethren, far 
from looking upon him in that light in which he anxiously 
desires to be viewed by them, think him capable of being 
guilty of what he is accused of. He knows perfectly that 
he has not been guilty : he knows perfectly what he has 
done; but, perhaps, scarce any man can know perfectly 
what he himself is capable of doing. What the peculiar 
constitution of his own mind may or may not admit of, is, 
perhaps, more or less a matter of doubt to every man. The 
trust and good opinion of his friends and -neighbours tend 
more than any thing to relieve him from this most disagree- 
able doubt; their distrust and unfavourable opinion, to 
increase it. He may think himself very confident that their 
unfavourable judgment is wrong : but this confidence can 
«elddm be so great as to hinder that judgment from making 
some impression upon him ; and the greater his sensilnli^, 
Ae greater his delicacy, the greater his worth, in short, iStaa 
impression is likely to be the greater. 

The agreement or :disagreement both of the sentiments 
and judgments of other people with our own, is, in alTcases, 
it must be observed, of more or less importance to us, ex- 
actly in proportion as we ourselves are more or less uncer- 
tain about the propriety of our own sentiments, about the 
accuracy of our own judgments. 

A man of sensibility may sometimes feel great uneasiness 
lest he should have yielded too much even to what may be 
called an honourable passion ; to his just indignation, per- 


. H,] OP DUTY. 179 

baps, at the injury wbicb may have been done eitha: to 
bimself or to his friend. He is anxiously afraid lest, mean- 
ing only to act with spirit^ and to do justice, he may, from 
tiie too great yehemence i^ his emotion, have done a real 
injury to some other person ; i^ho, though not innocent^ 
may not have been altogether so guilty as he at first appre- 
hended. The opinion of other people becomes, in this case, 
of the utmost importance to him. Their approbation is the 
most healing balsam ; their disapprobation, the bitterest and 
most tormenting poison that can be poured into his uneasy 
mind. When he is perfectly satisfied with every part of his 
^wn conduct, the judgment of other people is often of less 
in^rtance to him. 

» 

There are some very noble and beautiful arts, in which 
the degree of excellence can be determined only by a cer« 
fain nicety of taste, of which the decisions, however, appear 
always, in some measure, uneertain. There are others, in 
which the success admits, either of clear demonstration, or 
very satisfactory pro<^f. Among the candidates for excel- 
lence in those different arts, the anxiety about the puUic 
opinion is always much greater in the former than in the 
latter. 

The beauty ^f poetry is a matter of such nicety, that a 
young beginner ean scarce ever be certain that he has at- 
tained it. Nothing delights him so much, therefore, as the 
fiivourable judgments of his friends and of the public; and 
nothing mortifies him so severely as the contrary. The one 
establislies, the other shakes, the good opinion which he is 
anxious to entertain concerning his own performances. Ex- 
perience and suceesis may in time give him a little more 
confidence in his own judgment. He is at all times, how- 
ever, liable to be most severely mortified by the unfavour- 
able judgments of the public. Racine was so disgusted by 
the indifi*erent success of his Phsedra, the finest tragedy. 


180 OF THE SENSE [PART DI. 

perhaps, that is extant in any language, that, though in the 
vigour of his life, and at the height of his ahilities, he re- 
solved to write no more for the stage. That great poet used 
frequently to tell his son, that the most paltry and imper- 
tinent criticism had always given him more pain than the 
highest and justest eulogy had ever given him pleasure. 
The extreme sensibility of Voltaire to the slightest censure 
of the same kind is well known to every body. The Dun- 
ciad of Mr Pope is an everlasting monument of how much 
the most correct, as well as the most elegant and harmonious 
of all the English poets, had been hurt by the criticisms of 
the lowest and most contemptible authors. Gray (who joins 
to the sublimity of Milton the elegance and harmony of 
Pope, and to whom nothing is wanting to render him, per- 
haps, the first poet in the English language^ but to have 
written a little more), is said to have been so much hurt 
by a foolish and impertinent parody of two of his finest 
odes, that he never afterwards attempted any considerable 
work. Those men of letters who value themselves upon 
what is called fine writing in prose, approach somewhat to 
the sensibility of poets. 

Mathematicians, on the contrary, who may have the most 
perfect assurance both of the truth and of the importance 
of their discoveries, are frequently very indifferent about 
the reception which they may meet with from the public. 
The two greatest mathematicians that I ever have had the 
honour to be known to, and, I believe, the two greatest that 
have lived in my time, Dr Robert Simpson of Glasgow, 
and Dr Matthew Stewart of Edinburgh, never seemed to 
feel even the slightest uneasiness from the neglect with which 
the ignorance of the public received some of their most 
valuable works. The great work of Sir Isaac Newton, his 
Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, I have 
been told, was for several years neglected by the public. 
The tranquillity of that great man, it is probable, never suf* 


I 
J 


CHAP, n.] OP DUTY. 181 

fiered, upon that account, the interruption of a single quar- 
ter of an hour. Natural philosophers, in their independency 
upon the public opinion, approach nearly to mathematicians, 
and, in their judgments concerning the merit of their own 
discoveries and observations, enjoy some degree of the same 
security and tranquillity. 

The morals of those different classes of men of letters 
are, perhaps, sometimes somewhat affected by this very 
great difference in their situation with regard to the 
public. 

Mathematicians and natural philosophers, from their in- 
dependency upon the public opinion, have little temptation 
to form themselves into factions and cabals, either for the 
support of their own reputation, or for the depression of 
that of their rivals. They are almost always men of the 
most amiable simplicity of manners, who live in good har- 
mony with one another, are the friends of one another's re- 
putation, enter into no intrigue in order to secure the public 
applause, but are pleased when their works are approved o^ 
without being either much vexed or very angry when they 
are neglected. 

It is not always the same case with poets, or with those 
who value themselves upon what is called fine writing. 
They are very apt to divide themselves into a sort of literary 
Actions ; each cabal being often avowedly, and almost always 
secretly, the mortal enemy of the reputation of every other, 
and employing all the mean arts of intrigue and solicitation 
to pre-occupy the public opinion in favour of the works of 
its own members, and against those of its enemies and 
rivals. In France, Despreaux and Racine did not think it 
below them to set themselves at the head of a literary 
cabal, in order to depress the reputation, first of Quinault 
and Perrault, and afterwards of Fontenelle and La Motte, 


182 OF TBS SENSE [PABT HI. 

and even to treat the good La Fontaine with a species of 
most disrespectful kindness. In England, the amiable Mr 
Addison did not think it unworthy of his gentle and modest 
character to set himself at the head of a little cabal of the 
same kind, in order to keep down the rising reputation of 
Mr Pope. Mr Fontenelle, in writing the lives and cha- 
racters of the members of the academy of sciences, a society 
of mathematicians and natural philosophers, has frequent 
opportunities of celebrating the amiable simplicity of their 
manners ; a quality which, he observes, was so universal 
among them as to be characteristical rather of that whole 
class of men of letters than of any individual. Mr 
D^Alembert, in writing the lives and characters of the 
members of the French Academy, a society of poets and 
fine writers, or of those who are supposed to be such, seems 
not to have had such frequent opportunities of making any 
remark of this kind, and nowhere pretends to represent this 
amiable quality as characteristical of that class of men of 
letters whom he celebrates. 

Our imcertainty concerning our own merit, and onr 
anxiety to think favourably of it, should together naturally 
enough make us desirous to know the opinion of other peo- 
ple concerning it ; to be more than ordinarily elevated when 
that opinion is favourable, and to be more than ordinarily 
mortified when it is otherwise : but they should not make 
us desirous either of obtaining the favourable, or of avoiding 
the unfavourable opinion, by intrigue and cabal. When a 
man has bribed all the judges, the most unanimous decision 
of the court, though it may gain him his law-suit, cannot 
give him any assurance that he was in the right : and had 
he carried on his law-suit merely to satisfy himself that he 
was in the right, he never would have bribed the judges. 
But though he wished to find himself in the right, he wished 
likewise to gain his law-suit ; and therefore he bribed the 
judges. If praise were of no consequence to us, but as m 


GGEEAP. U.] OV DUTT. 18) 

proof of OUT own prftiseworthiness, w« never should en- 
deavour to obtain it bj unfair means. But though to wise 
men it is, at least in doubtful cases, of principal consequence 
upon this account, it is likewise of some consequence upon 
its own account ; and therefore (we cannot, indeed, upon 
snch occasions, call them wise men, but) men very much 
above the common level have sometimes attempted both to 
obtain praise and to avoid blame hj very unfair means. 

Praise and blame express what actually are ; praise- 
worthiness and blameworthiness what naturally ought to 
be the sentiments of other people with regard to our cha- 
racter and conduct. The love of praise is the desire of ob- 
taining the favourable sentiments of our brethren. The 
love of praiseworthiness is the desire of rendering ourselves 
the proper objects of those sentiments. So far those two 
principles resemble and are akin to one another. The like 
affinity and resemblance take place between the dread of 
blame and that of blameworthiness. 

The man who desires to do, or who actually does, a praise- 
worthy action, may likewise desire the praise which is due* 
to it, and sometimes, perhaps, more than is due to it. The* 
two principles are in this case blended together. How far 
bis conduct may have been influenced by the one, and how 
fkr by the other, may frequently be unknown even to him- 
self. It must almost always be so to other people. They 
who are disposed to lessen the merit of his conduct, impute it 
chiefiy or altogether to the mere love of praise, or to what 
they call mere vanity. They who are disposed to think more 
fitvourably of it, impute it chiefly or altogether to the love of 
praiseworthiness ; to the love of what is really honourable 
and noble in human conduct; to the desire not merely of 
obtaining, but of deserving, the approbation and applause of 
his brethren. The imagination of the spectator throws upon 
it either the one colour or the other, according either to his. 


184 OF THE SENSE [PABT ni. 

babits of thinking, or to the favour or dislike whi(2^ he may 
bear to the person whose conduct he is considering. 

Some splenetic philosophers, in judging of human nature, 
have done as peevish individuals are apt to do in judging 
of the conduct of one another, and have imputed to the love 
of praise, or to what they call vanity, every action which 
ought to be ascribed to that of praiseworthiness. I shall 
hereafter have occasion to give an account of some of their 
systems, and shall not at present stop to examine them. 

Very few men can be satisfied with their own private 
eonsciousness that they have attained those qualities, or per- 
formed those actions, which they admire and think praise- 
worthy in other people; unless it is at the same time 
generally acknowledged that they possess the one, or have 
performed the other ; or, in other words, unless they have 
actually obtained that praise which they think due both to 
the one and to the other. In this respect, however, men 
differ considerably from one another. Some seem indiffe- 
rent about the praise, when, in their own minds, they are 
perfectly satisfied that they have attained the praiseworthi* 
ness. Others appear much less anxious about the praise- 
worthiness than about the praise. 

No man can be completely or even tolerably satisfied 
with having avoided every thing blameworthy in his con- 
duct ; unless he has likewise avoided the blame or the re- 
proach. A wise man may frequently neglect praise, even 
when he has best deserved it ; but, in all matters of serious 
consequence, he will most carefully endeavour so to regu- 
late his conduct as to avoid, not only blameworthiness, 
bat, as much as possible, every probable imputation of 
blame. He will never, indeed, avoid blame by doing any 
thing which he judges blameworthy ; by omitting any part 
of his duty, or by neglecting any opportunity of doing any 


CHAP, n.] OP DtJTY. 185 

thing which he judges to be really and greatly praisewor- 
thy. But, with these modifications, he will most anxiously 
and carefully avoid it. To shewmnch anxiety about praise, 
even for praiseworthy actions, is seldom a mark of great 
wisdom, but generally of some degree of weakness. But, 
in being anxious to avoid the shadow of blame or reproach, 
there may be no weakness, but frequently the most praise- 
worthy prudence. 

"Many people," says Cicero, "despise glory, who are yet 
most severely mortified by unjust reproach ; and that most 
inconsistently." This inconsistency, however, seems to be 
founded in the unalterable principles of human nature. 

The all- wise Author of Nature has, in this manner, taught 
man to respect the sentiments and judgments of his brethren; 
to be more or less pleased when they approve of his con* 
duct, and to be more or less hurt when they disapprove of 
it. He has made man, if I may say so, the immediate judge 
of mankind; and has in this respect, as in many others, 
created him after his own image, and appointed him his 
vicegerent upon earth, to superintend the behaviour of his 
brethren. They ai*e taught by nature to acknowledge that 
power and jurisdiction which has thus been conferred upon 
him, to be more or less humbled and mortified when they 
have incurred his censure, and to be more or less elated 
when they have obtained his applause. 

But though man has, in this manner, been rendered tlie 
immediate judge of mankind, he has been rendered so only 
in the first instance ; and an appeal lies from his sentence 
to a much higher tribunal, to the tribunal of their own con- 
sciences, to that of the supposed impartial and well-inform- 
ed spectator, to that of the man within the breast, the great 
judge and arbiter of their conduct. The jurisdictions of 
those two tribunals are founded upon principles which, 


18S OF THB SEmSE [PABT HI* 

tiMmgh in some respects resembling and akin, are, howerer, 
in reality different and distinct. The jurisdiction of the 
man without is founded altogether in the desire of actual 
praise, and in the aversion to actual blame. The jurisdiction 
of the man within is founded altogether in the desire of 
praiseworthiness, and in the aversion to blameworthiness; 
in the desire of possessing those qualities, and performing 
those actions, which we love and admire in other people ; 
and in the dread of possessing those qualities', and per- 
forming those actions, which we bate and despise in 
other people. If the man without should applaud us, either 
for actions which we have not performed, or for motives 
which had no influence upon us ; the man within can im- 
mediately humble that pride and elevation of mind which 
such groundless acclamations might otherwise occasion, by 
telling us, that as we know that we do not deserve them, 
we render ourselves despicable by accepting them. If, on 
the contrary, the man without should reproach us, either 
for actions which we never performed, or for motives which 
had no influence upon those which we may have performed ; 
the man within may immediately correct this false judg- 
ment, and assure us, that we are by no means the proper 
objects of that censure which has so unjustly been bestowed 
upon us. But in this, and in some other cases, the man 
within seems sometimes, as it were, astonished and con- 
founded by the vehemence and clamour of the man without. 
The violence and loudness with which blame is sometimes 
poured out upon us, seems to stupify and benumb our na- 
tural sense of praiseworthiness and blameworthiness ; and 
the judgments of the man within, though not, perhaps, ab- 
solutely altered or perverted, are, however, so much shaken 
in the steadiness and firmness of their decision, that tiieir 
natural effect, in securing die tranquillity of the mind, is 
firequeritly, in a great measure, destroyed. We scarce dare 
to absolve ourselves, when all our brethren appear loudly 
to condemn us. The supposed impartial spectator of our 


CttAP. n.] OF DDTT. 187 

oondact seems to give his opinion in onr favonr with fear 
and hesitation ; when that of all the real spectators, when 
that of all those with whose eyes and from whose Station 
he endearours to consider it, is nnanimonsly and yiolently 
against ns. In such cases, this demigod within the breast 
appears, like the demigods of the poets, thongh partly of 
immortal, yet partly too of mortal extraction. When his 
judgments are steadily and firmly directed by the sense of 
praiseworthiness and blameworthiness, he seems to act 
suitably to his divine extraction : but when he suffers him- 
self to be astonished and confounded by the judgments of 
ignorant and weak man, he discoyers his connection with 
mortality, and appears to act suitably rather to the human 
than to the divine part of his origin. 

In such eases, the only effectual consolatioQ of humbled 
and afflicted man lies in an appeal to a still higher tribunal, 
to that of the all-seeing Judge of the world, whose eye can 
never be deceived, and whose judgments can never be per- 
verted. A firm confidence in the unerring rectitude of 
this great tribunal, before which his innocence is in due 
time to be declared, and his virtue to be finally rewarded, 
can alone support him under the weakness and despondency 
of his own mind, under the perturbation and astonishment 
of the man within the breast, whom nature has set up as, 
in this life, the great guardian, not only of his innocence 
but of his tranquillity. Our happiness in this life is thus, 
upon many occasions, dependent upon the humble hope 
and expectation of a life to come ; a hope and expectation 
deeply rooted in human nature, which can alone support 
its lofty ideas of its own dignity, can alone illumine the 
dreary prospect of its continually approaching mortalityf 
and maintain its cheerfulness under all the heaviest cala- 
mities to which, from the disorders of this life, it may some- 
times be exposed. That there is a world to come, where 
exact justice will be done to every man; where every man 


188 OF THE 8EN3K [PABT m. 

will be ranked with those who, in the moral and intellectual 
qualities, are really his equals ; where the owner of those 
humble talents and virtues which, from being depressed by 
fortune, had, in this life, no opportunity of displaying them- 
selves ; which were unknown, not only to the public, but 
which he himself could scarce be sure that he possessed, 
and for which even the man within the breast could scarce 
venture to afford him any distinct and clear testimony ; 
where that modest, silent, and unknown merit will be placed 
upon a level, and sometimes above those who, in this world, 
had enjoyed the highest reputation, and who, from the 
advantage of their situation, had been enabled to perform 
the most splendid and dazzling actions; is a doctrine, in 
every respect so venerable, so comfortable to the weakness, 
so flattering to the grandeur of human nature, that the 
virtuous man who has the misfortune to doubt of it, cannot 
possibly avoid wishing most earnestly and anxiously to be- 
lieve it. It could never have been exposed to the derision 
of the scoffer, had not the distribution of rewards and 
punishments, which some of its most zealous assertors have 
taught us was to be made in that world to come, been too 
frequently in direct opposition to all our moral sentiments. 

That the assiduous courtier is often more favoured than 
the faithful and active servant ; that attendance and adula- 
tion are often shorter and surer roads to preferment than 
merit or service; and that a campaign at Yersaillea 
or St Jameses is often worth two 'either in Germany or 
Flanders, is a complaint which we have all heard from 
many a venerable but discontented old officer. But what 
is considered as the greatest reproach even to the weakness 
of earthly sovereigns, has been ascribed, as an act of justice, 
to divine perfection ; and the duties of devotion, the public 
and private worship of the Deity, have been represented, 
even by men of virtue and abilities, as the sole virtues 
which can either entitle to reward, or exempt from punish- 


CHAP, m.] OF DUTY. 189 

ment, in the life to come. They were the virtnes, perhaps, 
most suitable to their station, and in which they themselves 
chiefly excelled ; and we are all naturally disposed to overrate 
the excellencies of our own characters. In the discourse 
which the eloquent and philosophical MassiUon pronounced, 
on giving his benediction to the standards of the regiment of 
Catinat, there is the following address to the officers : — 
^' What is most deplorable in your situation, gentlemen, 
is, that in a life hard and painful, in which the services 
and the duties sometimes go beyond the rigour and severity 
of the most austere cloisters ; you suffer always in vain for 
the life to come, and frequently even for this life. Alas ! 
the solitary monk in his cell, obliged to mortify the flesh 
and to subject it to the spirit, is supported by the hope of 
an assured recompence, and by the secret unction of that 
grace which softens the yoke of the Lord. But you, on 
the bed of death, can you dare to represent to him your 
fatigues and the daily hardships of your employment ? can 
you dare to solicit him for any recompence ? and in all the 
exertions that you have mado, in all the violences that you 
have done to yourselves, what is there that he ought to 
place to his own account ? The best days of your life, 
however, have been sacrificed to your profession, and ten 
years' service has more worn out your body, than would, 
perhaps, have done a whole life of repentance and mortifica- 
tion. Alas I my brother, one single day of those sufferings, 
consecrated to the Lord, would, perhaps, have obtained 
you an eternal happiness. One single action, pahiful to na- 
ture, and offered up to Him, would, perhaps, have secured 
to you the inheritance of the saints. And you have done 
all this, and in vain, for this world.'' 

To compare, in this manner, the futile mortifications of 
a monastery, to the ennobling hardships and hazards of 
war ; to suppose that one day, or one hour, employed in 
the former should, in the eye of the great Judge of the 


190 or TBE SEVSE [PABT HI. 

world, hav6 more merit than a whole life spent honourably 
in the latter, is surely contrary to all onr moral sentiments ; 
to all the principles by which nature has taught us to regu- 
late our contempt or admiration. It is this spirit, however, 
which, while it has reserved the celestial regions £<x monks 
and friars, or for those whose conduct and conversation 
resembled these of monks and friurs, has condemned to the 
in&mal all the heroes, all the statesmen and lawgivers, aU 
&e poets and plulosophers of former ages; all &ose who 
have invented, improved, or excelled in the arts which con- 
tribute to the subsidence, to the conveniency, or to the 
ornament of human life ; all the great protectors, instmctors, 
and benefactors of mankind ; all those to whom our natural 
sense of praiseworthiness forces us to asiuibe tbe highest 
merit and most exalted virtue. Can we wonder that so 
strange an application of this most respectable doctrkie 
^ould sometimes have exposed it to contempt and ^risicm? 
with those at least who had themselves, perhaps, no great 
taste or turn for the devout and contemplative virtues?* 

* See Voltaire. 

Ygob 7 grillee sage et docte Platon, 
Diyin Homere; eloquent Ciceroo, && 


GHAF. m.] OF DVTT. Iftl 


CHAPTER III. 

Ofth^ Influence and Authority of Comcience. 

But tfaoogli the approbatioa of his own eonscienoe cm 
flearce^ upon Bome extraordinary occasions, content the 
weakness of man ; though the testimony of the supposed 
impartial spectator of the great inmate of the breast cannot 
always alone support him ; yet the influence and anthority 
of this principle is, upon all occasions, very great; and it 
18 oidy by coiisulting this judge within that we can evw 
eee what relates to ourselves in its proper shape and dimen- 
sions ; or that we can ever make any proper comparison 
between our own interests add those of other people. 

As to the eye of the body, objects appear great or small, 
not so much according to their real dimenMons as accord* 
ing to the nearness or distance of their situation ; so do 
they likewise to what may be called the natural ey« of the 
mind : ' and wb remedy the defects of both these oi^ns 
pretty much in the same manner. In my present situation, 
an immense landscape of lawns and woods, and di^Btant 
mountains, seems to do no more than cover the little win- 
dow which I write by, and to be out of all proportion less 
than the chamber in which I am sitting. I can form a just 
comparison between those great objects and the little objects 
around me, in no other way than by transporting myself, 
at least in fancy, to a different station, from whence I can 
survey both at nearly equal distances, and thereby form 
some judgment of their real .proportions. Habit and experi- 
ence have taught me to do this so easily and so readily, 
that I am scarce sensible that I do it ; and a man must be, 
in some measure, acquainted with the philosophy of vision, 
before he can be thoroughly convinced how little those 


192 OF THE SBM8E [PART UI. 

distant objects would appear to the eye, if the imagination, 
from a knowledge of their real magnitudes, did not swell 
and dilate them. 

In the same manner, to the selfish and original passions 
of human nature, the loss or gain of a very small interest 
of our own appears to be of vastly more importance, ex- 
cites a much more passionate joy or sorrow, a much more 
ardent desire or aversion, than the greatest concern of an- 
other with whom we have no particular connection. His 
interests, as long as they are surveyed from his station, can 
never be put into the balance with our own, can never re- 
strain us from doing whatever may tend to promote our 
own, how ruinous soever to him. Before we can make any 
proper comparison of those opposite interests, we must change 
our position. We must view them, neither from our own 
place nor yet from his, neither with our own eyes nor yet 
with his, but from the place and with the eyes of a third 
person, who has no particular connection with either, and 
who judges with impartiality between us. Here, too, habit 
and experience have taught us to do this . so easily and so 
readily, that we are scarce sensible that we do it ; and it 
requires, in this case, too, some degree of reflection, and 
even of philosophy, to convince us, how little interest we 
should take in the greatest concerns of our neighbour, how 
little we should be affected by whatever relates to him, if 
the sense of propriety and justice did not correct the other- 
wise natural inequality of our sentiments. 

Let us suppose that the great empire of China, with all 
its myriads of inhabitants, was suddenly swallowed up by 
an earthquake, and let us consider how a man of humanity 
in Europe, who had no sort of connection with that part of 
the world, would be affected upon receiving intelligence of 
this dreadful calamity. He would, I imagine, first of all 
express very strongly his sorrow for the misfortune of that 


OHAP. m.] OP DUTY, 198 

luibappy people, he would make m^any melai^choly reflec- 
tions upon the precariousness of human life, and the vanity 
of all the labours of man, which could thus be annihilated 
in a moment. He would, too, perhaps, if he was a man of 
speculation, enter into many reasonings concerning the 
effects which this disaster might produce upon the com- 
merce of Europe, and the trade and business of the world 
in general. And when all this fine philosophy was over, 
when all these humane sentiments had been once fairly ex- 
pressed, he would pursue his business or his pleasure, take 
bis repose or his diversion, with the same ease and tran- 
quillity as if no such accident had happened. The most 
frivolous disaster which could befall himself would occasion 
a more real disturbance. If he was to lose his little finger 
to morrow, he would not sleep to-night ; but, provided he 
never saw them, he will sn^ra with the most profound secu- 
rity over the ruin of a hundred millions of his brethren, 
and the destruction of that immense multitude seems plainly 
an object less interesting to him than this paltry misfortune 
pf his own. To prevent, therefore, this paltry misfortune 
to himself, would a man of humanity be willing to sacrifice 
the lives of a hundred millions of his brethren, provided he 
had never seen them ? Human nature startles with horror 
at the thought, and the world, in its greatest depravity and 
corruption, never produced such a villain as could be cap- 
able of entertaining it. But what makes this difference ? 
when our passive feelings are almost always so sordid and 
60 selfish, how comes it that our active principles should 
often be so generous and so noble ? When we are always 
so much more deeply affected by whatever concerns our- 
selves than by whatever concerns other men ; what is it 
which prompts the generous upon all occasions, and the 
mean upon many, to sacrifice their own interests to the 
greater interests of others ? It is not the soft power of 
humanity, it is not that feeble spark of benevolence which 

Nature has lighted up in the human heart, that is thus cap- 

o 


194 OF THE SENSE [PART HI. 

able of counteracting the strongest impluses of self-love. 
It is a stronger power, a more forcible motive, which exerts 
itself upon such occasions. It is reason, principle, conscience, 
the inhabitant of the breast, the man within, the great judge 
and arbiter of our conduct. It is he who, whenever we 
are about to act so as to affect the happiness of others, calii 
to us, with a voice capable of astonishing the most pre- 
sumptuous of our passions, that we are but one of the mul- 
titude, in no respect better than anj other in it ; and that 
when we prefer ourselves so shamefully and so blindly to 
others, we become the proper objects of resentment, abhor- 
rence, and execration. It is from him only that we leant 
the real littleness of ourselves, and of whatever relates to 
ourselves, and the natural misrepresentations of self-love can 
be corrected only by the eye of this impartial spectator. It 
is he who shews us the propriety of generosity and the de- 
formity of injustice ; the propriety of resigning the greatest 
interests of our own for the yet greater interests of others; 
and the deformity of doing the smallest injury to another in 
order to obtain the greatest benefit to ourselves. It is not 
the love of our neighbour, it is not the love of mankind, 
which upon many occasions prompts us to the practice oi 
those divine virtues. It is a stronger love, a more power* 
ful aflRsetion, which generally takes place upon such occa- 
sions ; the love of what is honourable and noble, of the gran- 
deur, and dignity, and superiority of our own characters. 

When the happiness or misery of others depends in any 
respect upon our conduct, we dare not, as self-love might 
suggest to us, prefer the interest of one to that of many. 
The man within immediately calls to ns, that we value 
ourselves too much and other people too litUe, and thlat, 
by doing so, we render ourselves the proper object of the 
contempt and indignation of our brethren. Neither is this 
sentiment confined to men of extraordinary magnanimity 
and virtue. It is deeply impressed upon every tolerably 


cm^* in*] OF DUTY. 199 

good soldier, whb feels that be woald become the scorn of 
his companions if he could be supposed capable of shrink* 
ing from danger, or of hesitating either to expose or to 
throw away his life when the good of the service required it 

One individual must never prefer himself so much even 
to any other individual as. to hurt or injure that other in 
order to benefit himself, though the benefit to the one 
should be much greater than the hurt or injury to the other. 
The poor man must neither defraud nor steal from the rich, 
though the acquisition might be much more beneficial to the 
one than the loss could be hurtful to the other. The man 
within immediately calls to him in this case, too, that he i^ 
no better than his neighbour, and that by his unjust prefe- 
rence, he renders himself the proper object of the contempt 
and indignation of mankind, as well as of the punishment 
which that contempt and indignation must naturally dispose 
them to inflict, for having thus violated one of those sacred 
rules, upon the tolerable observation of which d^end the 
whole security and peace of human society. There is no 
commonly honest man who does not more dread the inward 
disgrace of such an action, the indelible stain which itwoidd 
for ever stamp upon his own mind, than the greatest exter- 
nal calamity which, without any fault of his own, could 
possibly befall him ; and who does not inwardly feel the 
truth of that great stoical maxim, that for one man to de- 
prive another unjustly of any thing, or unjustly to promote 
his own advantage by the loss or disadvantage of another, 
is more contrary to nature than death, than poverty, than 
pain, than aU the misfortunes which can ilffect him, either 
•in his body, or in his external circumstances. 

When the happiness or misery of others, indeed, in no 
respect depends upon our conduct, when our interests are 
altogether separated and detached from theirs, so that there 
is neither connection nor competition between them^ we do 


W6 OF THE SENSE [l*ABT Hi: 

not always think it so necessary to restrain, either our na- 
tural, and; perhaps, improper anxiety about our own affairs, 
or our natural, and, perhaps, equally improper indifference 
aibout those of other men. The most' vulgar education 
teaches us to act, upon all important occasions, with some 
sort of impartiality between ourselves and others, and even 
the ordinary commerce of the world is capable of adjust- 
ing our active principles to some degree of propriety. But 
it is the most artificial and refined education only, it has 
been said, which can correct the inequalities of our passive 
feelings ; and we must for this purpose, it has been pre- 
tended, have recourse to the severest, as well as to the 
profoundest, philosophy. 

Two different sets of philosophers have attempted to teach 
us this hardest of all the lessons of morality. One set 
have laboured to increase our sensibility to the interests of 
others ; another, to diminish that to our own. The first 
would have us feel for others as we natuniUy feel for our- 
eelves. The second would have us feel for ourselves as wo 
naturally feel for others. Both, perhaps, have carried their 
idoctrines a good deal beyond the just standard of nature 
iand propriety. 

The first are those whining and melancholy moralists 
who are perpetually reproaching us with our happiness, 
while so many of our brethren are in misery,* who regard 
as impious the natural joy of prosperity, which does not 
think of the many wretches that are at every instant 
labouring under all sorts of calamities, in the langour of 
poverty, in the agony of disease, in the horrors of death, 
under the insults and oppression of their enemies. Com- 
miseration for those miseries which we never saw, which we 

* Sec Thomson's Seasons, Winter : 

** Ah ! little think the gay licentions proud," &c 
Seo also PaHcal. 


CHAP, m.] OF DUTY. 197 

never heard of, but whicli we may be assured are at 
all times infesting such numbers of our fellow-creatures, 
ought, they think, to damp the pleasures of the fortunate, 
and to render a certain melancholy dejection habitual 
to all men. But, first of all, this extreme sympathy with 
misfortunes which we know nothing about seems al- 
together absurd and unreasonable. Take the whole earth 
at an average, for one man who suffers pain or misery,, you 
will find twenty in prosperity and joy, or at least in toler- 
able circumstances. No reason, surely, can be assigned 
why we should rather weep with the one than rejoice with 
the twenty. This artificial commiseration, besides, is not 
only absurd, but seems altogether unattainable ; and those 
who affect this character have commonly nothing but a cer- 
tain affected and sentimental sadness, which, without reach- 
ing the heart, serves only to render the countenance and 
conversation impertinently dismal and disagreeable. And, 
last of all, this disposition of mind, though it could be at- 
tiuned, would be perfectly useless, and could serve no otlier 
purpose than to render miserable the person who possessed 
it. Whatever interest we take in the fortune of tLose with 
whom we have no acquaintance or connection, and who are 
placed altogether out of the sphere of our activity, can pro- 
duce only anxiety to ourselves, without any manner of ad- 
vantage to them. To what purpose should we trouble our- 
selves about the world in the moon ? All men, even those 
at the greatest distance, are no doubt entitled to our good 
wishes, and our good wishes we naturally give tlicm. But 
j£y notwithstanding, they should be unfortunate, to give our- 
selves any anxiety upon that account seems to be no part 
of our duty. That we should be but little interested, there- 
fore, in the fortune of those whom we can neither serve nor 
hart, and who are in every respect so very remote from us, 
seems wisely ordered by Nature ; and if it were possible to 
alter in this respect the original constitution of our framey 
we could yet gain nothing by the change. 


I 

198 OF THE SENSE [PART. IH. 

It is never objected to us that we have too little fellow- 
feeling with the joy of success. Wherever envy does not 
prevent it, the favour which we bear to prosperity is rather 
apt to be too great ; and the same moralists who blame 
us for want of sufficient sympathy with the miserable, re- 
proach us for the levity with which we are too apt to admire 
and almost to Worship the fortunate, the powerful, and the 
rich. 

Among the moralists who endeavour to correct the na- 
tural inequality of our passive feelings by diminishing our 
iSensibUity to what peculiarly concerns ourselves, we may 
count all the ancient sects of philosophers ; but, particular- 
ly, the ancient Stoics. Man, according to the Stoics, ought 
to regard himself, not as something separated and detached, 
but as a citizen of the world, a member of the vast com- 
monwealth of nature. To the interest of this great com- 
munity he ought at all times to be willing that his own 
little interest should be sacrificed. Whatever concerns 
himself ought to affect him no more than whatever concerns 
any other equally important part of this immense system. 
We should view ourselves, not in the light in which our own 
selfish passions are apt to place us, but in the light in which 
any other citizen of the world would view us. What be- 
falls ourselves we should regard as what befalls our neigh- 
bour, or, what comes to the same thing, as our neighbour 
regards what befalls us. " When our neighbour," says Epic- 
tetus, " loses his wife, or his son, there is nobody who is 
not sensible that this is a human calamity, a natural event 
altogether according to the ordinary course of things ; but, 
when the same thing happens to ourselves, then we cry out, 
as if we had suffered the most dreadful misfortune. We 
•ought, however, to remember how we were affected when 
this accident happened to another, and such as we were in 
Ms case, such ought we to be in our own." 


CBAP« HI.j OF DUTY. 199 

Those private misfortunes, for wbioh our feelings are apt 
to go beyond the bounds of propriety, are of two different 
kinds. They are either such as afOact us only indirectly, 
by affecting, in the iirst place, some other persons who are 
particularly dear to us ; such as our parents, our children, 
our brothers and sisters, our intimate friends ; or they are 
such as affect ourselves immediately and directly, either in 
our body, in our fortune, or in our reputation ; such as pain, 
sickness, approaching death, poverty, disgrace, &c. 

In misfortunes of the first kind, our emotions raay, no 
doubt, go very much beyond what exact propriety will ad- 
mit of ; but they may likewise fall short of it, and they fre- 
quently do so. The man who should feel no more for the 
death or distress of his own father or son than for those of 
any other man's father or son, would appear neither a good 
son nor a good father. Such unnatural indifference, far from 
exciting our applause, would incur our .highest disapproba- 
lion. Of those domestic affections, however, some are most 
apt to offend by their excess, and others by their defect. 
Nature, for the wisest purposes, has rendered in most men, 
perhaps in all men, parental tenderness a much stronger 
affection than filial piety. The continuance and propagation 
of the species depend altogether upon the former, and not 
upon the latter. In ordinary cases, the existence and pre- 
servation of the child depend altogether upon the care of 
the parents. - Those of the parents seldom depend upon 
that of the child. Nature, therefore, has rendered the 
former affection so strong, that it generally requires not to 
be excited, but to be moderated ; and moralists seldom en^ 
deavour to teach us how to indulge, but generally how to 
restrain our fondness, our excessive attachment, the un- 
just preference which we are disposed to give to our own 
children above those of other people. They exhort us, on 
the contrary, to an affectionate attention to our parents, and 
to make a proper return to them in their old age for the 


200 OF THE SEMSB [PAET lU, 

kindness whicli they had shewn to us in our infancy and 
youth. In the Decalogue we are commanded to honour 
our fathers and mothers. No mention is made of the love 
of our children. Nature had sufficiently prepared us for 
^ the performance of this latter duty. Men are seldom ac- 
cused of affecting to he fonder of their children than they 
really are. They have sometimes heen suspected of dis- 
playing their piety to their parents with too much ostenta- 
tion. The ostentatious sorrow of widows has, for a like 
reason, heen suspected of insincerity. We should respect, 
could we helieve it sincere, even the excess of such kind 
affections ; and though we might not perfectly approve, we 
should not severely condemn it. That it appears praise- 
worthy, at least in the eyes of those who affect it, the very 
affectation is a proof. 

Even the excess of those kind affections which are most 
apt to offend hy their excess, though it may appear hlameable, 
never appears odious. We blame the excessive fondness 
and anxiety of a parent, as something which may, in the 
end, prove hurtful to the child, and which, in the meantime, 
is excessively inconvenient to the parent ; but we easily 
pardon it, and never regard it with hatred and detestation. 
But the defect, of this usually excessive affection appears 
always peculiarly odious. The man who appears to feel no- 
thing for his own children, but who treats them upon all 
occasions with unmerited severity and harshness, seems of 
all brutes the most detestable. The sense of propriety, so 
far from requiring us to eradicate altogether that extraordi- 
nary sensibility, which we naturally feel for the misfortunes 
of our nearest connections, is always much more offended 
by the defect than it over is by the excess of that sensibility. 
The stoical apathy is, in such cases, never agreeable, and all 
the metaphysical sophisms by which it is supported can sel- 
dom serve any other purpose than to blow up the hard insen- 
sibility of a coxcomb to ten times its native impertinence. 


J 


CHAP. III.] OP DXITY. ,2(ii 

The poets and romance writers, who best paint the refinements 
and delicacies of love and friendship, and of all other pri- 
vate and domestic affections, Kacine and Voltaire, Richards 
son, Marivaux, and Riccoboni, are, in such cases, mudi 
better instructors than Zeno, Chrysippus, or Epictetus. 

That moderated sensibility to the misfortunes of others, 
which does not disqualify us for the performance of any 
duty — the melancholy and affectionate remembrance of oar 
departed friends — the pang, as Gray says, to secret sorrow 
dear — are by no means undelicious sensations. Though 
ihey outwardly wear the features of pain and grief, they 
are all inwardly stamped with the ennobling characters of 
virtue and self-approbation. 

It is otherwise in the misfortunes which affect ourselves 
immediately and directly, either in our b6dy, in our fortune, 
or in our reputation. The sense of propriety is much more 
apt to be offended by the excess than by the defect of our 
sensibility, and there are but very few cases in which we can 
approach too near to the stoical apathy and indifference. 

That we have very little fellow-feeling with any of the 
passions which take their origin from the body, has already 
been observed. That pain which is occasioned by an evi- 
dent cause, such as the cutting or tearing of the flesh, is, 
perhaps, the affection of the body with which the spectator 
feels the most lively sympathy. The approaching death 
of his neighbour, too, seldom fails to affect him a good deal. 
In both cases, however, he feels so very little in compa- 
rison of what the person principally concerned feels, that the 
latter can scarce ever offend the former by appearing to 
suffer with too much ease. 

The mere want of fortune, mere poverty, excites litfie 
eompassion. Its complaints are too apt to be the objects 


202 OF THE SEKSE [PART. I^. 

rather of contempt thatn of fellow-feeling. We despise a 
beggar ;' and, though his importunities may extort an alms 
from us, he is scarce ever the object of any serious commise- 
ration. The fall from riches to poverty, as it commonly 
occasions the most real distress to the sufferer, so it seldom 
fails to excite the most sincere commiseration in the specta- 
tor. Though in the present state of society this misfortmie* 
ean seldom happen without some miisconduct, . and some 
very considerable misconduct, too, in the sufferer, yet he is 
almost always so much pitied, that he is scarce ever allowed 
to fall into the lowest state of poverty ; but, by the means of 
hu friends, frequently by the indulgence of those very credi- 
tors who have much reason to complain of his imprudence, 
is almost always supported in some degree of decent, though 
humble, mediocrity. To persons under such misfortunes 
we bould, perhaps, easily pardon some degree of weakness ; 
bat, at the same time, they who carry the firmest counte- 
nance, who accommodate themselves with the greatest ease 
to their new situation, who seem to feel no humiliation from 
the change, but to rest their rank in the society, not upon 
their fortune, but upon their character €uid conduct, are 
always the most approved of, and never fail to command our 
highest and most affectionate admiration. 

As, of all the external misfortunes which can affect an 
innocent man immediately and directly, the undeserved 
loss of reputation is certainly the greatest ; so a consider- 
able degree of sensibility to whatever can bring on so great 
a calamity does not always appear ungraceful or disagree- 
able. We often esteem a young man the more when he 
resents, though with some degree of violence, any unjust 
reproach that may have been thrown upon his character or 
his honour. The affliction of an innocent young lady, on 
account of the groundless surmises which may have been 
oireulated concerning her conduct, 'appears often perfectly 
M&iable. Persons of an advanced age, whom long experi- 


I"-- 


CHAP. III.J OF DUTY. 20S 

ence of the folly and injustice of the world has taught to 
pay little regard either to its censure or to its applause, 
neglect and despise obloquy, and do not even deign to 
honour its futile authors with any serious resentment. This 
indifference, which is founded altogether on a firm confi- 
dence in their own well-tried and well-established charac- 
ters, would be disagreeable in young people, who neither 
can nor ought to have any such confidence. It might in 
them be supposed to forebode in their advancing years a 
most improper insensibility to real honour and infamy. 

In all other private misfortunes which affect ourselves 
immediately and directly, we can very seldom offend by 
appearing to be too little affected. We frequently remem- 
ber our sensibility to the misfortunes of others with pleasure 
and satisfaction. We can seldom remember that to Our 
own, without some degree of shame and humiliation. 

If we examine the different shades and gradations of 
weakness and self-command, as we meet with them in com- 
mon life, we shall very easily satisfy ourselves that this 
control of our passive feelings must be acquired, not from 
the abstruse syllogisms of a quibbling dialectic, but from 
that great discipline which Nature has established for the 
acquisition of this and of every other virtue ; a regard to 
the sentiments of the f eal or supposed spectator of our con- 
duct. 

A very young child has no«elf-command ; but, whatever 
are its emotions, whether fear, or grief, or anger, it endea- 
vours always, by the violence of its outcries, to alarm, as> 
much as it can, the attention of its nurse, or of its parents. 
While it remains under the custody of such partial pro- 
tectors, its anger is the first, and, perhaps, the only passion 
which it is taught to moderate. By noise and threatening 
they are, for tiieir own ease, often obliged to frighten it* 


204 OF THE SENSE [PART HZ. 

iilto good temper; and the passion wbich incites it to attack, 
is restrained by that which teaches it to attend to its own 
safety. When it is old enough to go to school, or to mix 
with its equals, it soon finds that they have no such indul- 
gent partiality. It naturally wishes to gain their favour, 
and to avoid their hatred or contempt. Regard even to its 
own safety teaches it to do so ; and it soon finds that it can 
do so in no other way than by moderating, not only its an- 
ger, but all its other passions, to the degree which its play- 
fellows and companions are likely to be pleased with. It 
thus enters into the great school of self-command ; it studies 
to be more and more master of itself ; and begins to exercise 
over its own feelings a discipline which the practice of the 
longest life is very seldom sufficient to bring to complete 
perfection. 

In all private misfortunes, in pain, in sickness, in sorrow, 
the weakest man, when his friend, and still more when a 
stranger visits him, is immediately impressed with the view 
in which they are likely to look upon his situation. Their 
view calls off his attention from his own view ; and his 
breast is, in some measure, becalmed the moment they come 
into his presence. This effect is produced instantaneously, 
and, as it were, mechanically ; but, with a weak man, it is 
not. of long continuance. His own view of his situation im- 
mediately, recurs upon him. He abandons himself, as be- 
fore, to sighs, and tears, and lamentations ; and endeavours, 
like a child that has not yet gone to school, to produce some 
sort of harmony between his own grief and the compassion of 
the spectator, not by moderating the former, but by impor- 
tunately calling upon the latter. 

With a man of a little more firmness, the effect is some- 
what more permanent. He endeavours, as much as he can, 
to ^x. his attention upon the view which the company are 
likely to take of his situation. He feels, at the same time. 


GHAP. III.] OP DUTY.* 205? 

Ae' esteem and approbation which they naturallj conceive 
ioT him when he thus preserves his tranqaillity ; and, though' 
under the pressure of some recent and great calamity; ap- 
pears to feel for himself no more thatf what they really feel 
for him. He approves and applauds himself by sympathy 
with their approbation, and the pleasure which he derives 
from this sentiment supports and enables him more easily to 
continue this generous effort. In most cases he avoids 
mentioning his own misfortune ; and his company, if they 
are tolerably well bred, are careful to say nothing which 
can put him in mind of it. He endeavours to entertain 
them, in his usual way, upon indifferent subjects, or, if he 
feels himself strong enough to venture to mention his mis- 
fortune, he endeavours to talk of it as he thinks they are 
capable of talking of it, and even to feel it no. further than 
they are capable of feeling it. If he has not, however, 
been well inured to the hard discipline of self-command, he 
Boon grows weary of thi^ restraint. A long visit fatigues 
him ; and, towards the end of it, he is constantly in danger 
of doing, what he never fails to do the moment it is over, 
of abandoning himself to all the weakness of excessive sor- 
row. Modern good manners, which are extremely indul- 
gent to human weakness, forbid for some time the visits 
of strangers to persons under great family distress, and per- 
mit those only of the nearest relations and most intimate 
friends. The presence of the latter, it is thought, will im- 
pose less restraint than that of the former ; and the suf- 
ferers can more easily accommodate themselves to the feel- 
ings of those from whom they have reason to expect a more 
indulgent sympathy. Secret enemies, who fancy that they 
are not known to be such, are frequently fond of making those 
charitable visits as early as the most intimate friends. The 
weakest nran in the world, in this case, endeavours to sup- 
port his manly countenance, and, from indignation and 
contempt of their malice, to behave with as much gaiety 
and ease as he can. 


JO^ OE THE SENSE [PART IH, 

The man of reel constancy and firmness, the wise and 
}nst man who has been thoroughly bred in the great school 
of self-command, in the bnrtle and business of the wprld, 
exposed, perhaps, to the violence and injustice of faction, 
and to the hardships and hazards of war, maintains thia 
control of his passive feelings upon all occasions; and 
whether in solitude oc in society, wears nearly the same 
countenance, and is fi^ected very nearly in the same man- 
ner. In success and in disappointment, in prosperity and 
in adversity, before friends and before enemies,, he has often 
been under the necessity of supporting this manhood. He 
has never dared to forget for one moment tiie judgment 
which the impartial spectator would pass upon his senti- 
ments and conduct He has never dared to sufi^r the man 
within the breast to be absent one moment from his atten-^ 
tion. With the eyes of this great inmate be has alwaya 
been accustomed to regard whatever relates to himselfl 
This habit has become perfectly fiuniliar to him : he luui 
been in the constant practice, and, indeed^ under the con- 
stant necessity, of modelling, or of endeavouring to model, 
not only his outward conduct and behaviour, but, aa much 
as he can, even his inward sentiments and feelings, accord* 
ing to those of this awfiil and respectable judge. He does 
not merely affect the sentiments of the impartial spectator ; 
he really adopts them. He almost identifies himself with, 
he almost becomes himself that impartial spectator, and 
scarce even feels but as that great arbiter of his conduct 
directs him to feel. 

The degree of the self-approbation with which every maa 
upon such occasions surveys his own conduct, is higher or 
lower, exactly in proportion to the degree of self-command 
which is necessary in order to obtain that self-approbation. 
Where little self-command is necessary, little self-approba- 
tion is due. The man who has only scratched his finger 
cannot mucn applaud himself, though he should immediately 


CHAP. III.] OP DUTY. 207 

appear to have forgot this paltry misfortone. Tho man who 
has lost his leg by a cannon shot, and who, the moment 
after, speaks and acts with his usual coolness and tranquil* 
lity, as he exerts a much higher degree of self-command, so 
he naturally feels a much higher degree of sel£*approbation* 
With most men, upon such an accident, their own natural 
view of their own misfortune would fovee itself upon them 
with sudi a vivacity and stiengtii of colouring, as would 
entirely efiace all thought of every other view* They 
would feel nothing, they could attend to nothing, but their 
own pain and their own fear ; and not only the judgment of 
the ideal man within the breast, but tiiat of the real speeta? 
tors who might ha^en to be present, would be. entizelj 
ovserlooked and difirogarded. 

The reward whit^ Nature bestows upon good' behaviour 
under misfortune is liius exactly proportioned to the degree 
of that good behaviour. Hie only comp^isation she could 
possibly make for the bitterness of pain and dtstress is thu% 
too, in equal degrees of good behaviour, exactly proportnm- 
edto the degree- of that pain and distress. In proportion 
to the degree <^ the self-command which i» necesaary in 
Older to conquer «ar natural sensibility, the pleasure and 
pffide of tiie conquest are so much the greater ; and this 
Measure and pride are so great that no man can be alto<- 
getlier unhappy who completely enjoys them. Misery sad 
wretchedness can never enter the breast in idiich dwella 
complete self-satis&ction ; and though it may be too muchf 
perhaps, to say with the Stoics, that, under sudi an ac- 
cident as that above mentioned, the happiness of a wise man 
is in every respect equal to what it could have been under 
aay other circumstances ; yet it must be acknowledged, at 
least, that this complete enjo3mient of his own self-applause^ 
though it may not altogether extinguish, must certainly very 
much alleviate his sense of his own sufferings. 


mm 


808 OP. THE SENSE [PABT lU, 

In such paroxysms of distress, if I may be allowed to call 
them so, the wisest and firmest man, in order to preserve 
his equaaimity, is obliged, I imagine, to make, a consider- 
able, and even a painful exertion., His own natural feeling 
of his own distress, his own natural view of his own situation, 
presses hard upon him, and he cannot, without a very great 
effort, fix his attention upon that of the impartial spectator. 
Both views present themselves to him at the same time. 
His sense of honour, his regard to his own dignity, directs 
him to fix his whole attention upon the one view. His na- 
tural, his untaught and undisciplined feelings, are continually 
calling it off to the other. He does not, in this ^ase, per- 
fectly identify himself with the ideal man within the breast, 
he does not become himself the impartial spectator of his 
own conduct. The different views of both characters exist 
in his mind separate and distinct from one another, and each 
directing him to a behaviour different from that to which 
the other directs him. When he follows that view which 
honour and dignity point out to him, Nature does not, in- 
deed, leave him without a recompense. He enjoys his own 
complete self-approbation, and the applause of every candid 
and impartial spectator. By her unalterable laws, how* 
ever, he still suffers; and the recompense which she be- 
stows, though very considerable, is not sufficient completely 
to compensate the sufferings which those laws inflict. Nei- 
ther is it fit that it should. If it did completely compensate 
them, he could, from self-interest, have no motive for 
avoiding an accident which must necessarily diminish his 
utility both to himself and to society ; and Nature, from her 
parental care of both, meant that he should anxiously avoid 
idl such accidents. He suffers, therefore, and though, in 
the agony of the paroxysm, he maintains not only the 
manhood of his countenance but the sedateness and so- 
briety of his judgment, it requires his utmost and moet 
£fttiguing exertions to do so. 


CHAP, ni.] : OP IMJTT. 309 

By the constitution of human nature, however, agony 
can never be permanent ; and if he survives the paroxysm, 
he soon comes, without any effort, to enjoy his ordinary 
tranquillity. A man with a wooden leg suffers, no doubt, 
and foresees that he must continue to suffer during the re- 
mainder of his life, a yery considerable inconveniency. 
He soon comes to view it, however, exactly as every im- 
partial spectator views it, as an inconveniency under which 
he can enjoy all the ordinary pleasures both of solitude 
and of society. He soon identifies himself with the ideal 
man within the breast ; he soon becomes himself the im- 
partial spectator of his own situation. He no longer weeps, 
he no longer, laments, he. no longer grieves over it, as a 
weak man may sometimes do in the beginning. The view 
of the impartial spectator becomes so perfectly habitual to 
him, that, without any effort, without any exertion, he never 
thinks of surveying his misfortune in any other view. 

The never-failing certainty with. which all men, sooner 
or later, accommodate themselves to whatever becomes their 
permanent situation, may, perhaps, induce us to think that the 
Stoics were, at least, thus far very nearly in the right ; that, 
between one permanent situation , and another, there was, 
with regard to real happiness, no essential difference : or 
that, if there were any difference, it was no more than just 
sufficient to render some of them the objects of simple choice 
or preference, but not of any. earnest or anxious desire ; and 
others, of simple rejection, as being fit to be set aside or 
avoided, but not of any earnest or anxious aversion. Hap- 
piness consists in tranquillity and enjoyment. Without 
tranquillity there can be no enjoyment ; and where there is 
perfect tranquillity there is scarce anything which is not 
capable of amusing. But in every permanent situation, 
where there is no expectation of change, the mind of every 
man, in a longer or shorter time, returns to its natural and 
usual state of tranquillity. In prosperity, after a certain 

p 


210 - OPT&B£{ENSE [pilBT im 

time, it falls hade to that state; in adverdity, after a cinrtain 
time, -it rises up to it. In the confinement and solitude of 
the Bastile, after a ^eertain time, the fashionable and frivo* 
Ions Count de Lauznn recovered tranquillity enough to be 
capable of amusing himself with feeding a spider* A mind 
better furnished would, perhaps, have both sooner recover- 
ed its tranquillity, aird sooner found, in its own thoughts, a 
mudh better amuseaaEtent. 

The great source of bo^ the misery and disorders of 
human life i^ems to mrise from overrating the difference 
between one pei^nanent situation and another. Avarice 
overrates the diiet^nce between poverty and riches : 
ambition, that between a private ftnd a public station : vain- 
glory, that between obscurity itnd extensive reputation. 
The person under the iniluonee of any of those extravagant 
passions is not only miserable in his actual situation, but 
is often disposed to disturb the peace of society in order 
to arrive at that which he so foolishly admires. The slight- 
est observation, howeter, might satisfy him, that, in all 
tbe ordinary situations of human life, a well-disposed mind 
may be equally calm, equally cheerful, and equally con- 
tented. Some of those situations may, no doubt, deserve 
to be preferred to others ; but none of them can deserve to 
be pursued with that passionate ardour which drives us to 
violate the rules either of prudence or of justice ; or to cor- 
rupt the future tranquillity of' our minds, either by shame 
from the remembrance of our own folly, or by remorse from 
the horror of our own injustice. Wherever prudence does not 
durect, wherever justice does not permit, the attempt to change 
our situation, the man who does attempt it, plays at the most 
unequal of all games of hazard, and stakes every thing against 
scarce any thing. What the favourite of the King of Epiras 
said to his master, may be applied to men in all the ordi- 
nary situations of human life. When the king had recounted 
to him, in their proper order, all the conquests which he 


XHAP. ni.] OF DUTY. 211 

proposed to make, and had come to the last of them — ^' Aad 
what does your Majesty propose to do then?" said the 
favourite. — "I propose then, "said the King, "to enjoy myself 
with ihy friends, and endeavour to he good company over 
a hottle." — " And what hinders your Majesty from doing so 
now?" replied the favourite. In the most glittering and 
.exalted situation that our idle fanoyean hold out to us, the 
.pleasures from which we propose to derive our real happi- 
ness are almost always the same with those which, in our 
.actual. though humble ststion, we have at .all times at hand 
iwd in our powar. Exeept the frivolous pleasures of Y$mty 
and si^eriority, we may find, in the most humble statiovi, 
^ where there is .only personal liberty, every other which due 
jnost exalted can afford ; and the pleasures of vanity and 
superiority are seldom consistent with perfect tranquillity, 
^e principle and foundati )n of all real and saUsfactory 
.enjoyment. Neither is it always certun that, in the sjden- 
ilid situation which we aim at, those real and satisfactory 
pleasures can be enjoyed with the same security as in the 
humble one which we are so very eager to abandon. £xa- 
jnine the records of history, recollect what has happened 
within the circle of your own experience, consider with 
attention what has been the conduct of almost all the greatly 
unfortunate, either in private or public life, whom you may 
have either read of, or heard of, or remember, and you will 
find that the misfortunes of by far the greater part of them 
Jhave arisen from their not knowing when they were well, 
when it was proper for them to sit still and to be contented. 
The inscription upon the tombstone of the man who had 
endeavoured to mend a tolerable constitution by taking 
physic — "/ torn weU, I wished to be better; here I am,^^ may 
generally be applied with great justness to the distress of 
disappointed avarice and ambition. 

It may be thought a singular, but I believe it to be a just 
jobservation, that, in the misfortunes which admit of some 


212 OP THE SENSE [PART HI. 

Temedy, the greater part of men do not either so readily or 
so universally recover their natural and usual tranquillity, 
as in those which plainly admit of none. In misfortunes 
of the latter kind, it is chiefly in what may he called the 
paroxysm, or in the first attack, that we can discover any 
sensible difference between the sentiments and behaviour 
of the wise and those of the weak man. In the end, time, the 
great and universal comforter, gradually composes the weak 
man to the same degree of tranquillity which a regard to 
his own dignity and manhood teaches the wise man to 
assume in the beginning. The case of the man with the 
wooden leg is an obvious example of this. In the irrepar- 
able misfortunes occasioned by the death of children, or of 
friends and relations, even a wise man may for some time 
indulge himself in some degree of moderated sorrow. An 
affectionate, but weak woman, is often upon such occasions 
almost perfectly distracted. Time, however, in a longer 
or shorter period, never fails to compose the weakest woman 
to the same degree of tranbuillity as the strongest man. 
In all the irreparable calamities which affect himself im- 
mediately and directly, a wise man endeavours, from the 
beginning, to anticipate and to enjoy beforehand, that tran- 
quillity which he foresees the course of a few months or a 
few years will certainly restore to him in the end. 

In the misfortunes for which the nature of things admits, 
or seems to admit, of a remedy, but in which the means of 
applying that remedy are not within the reach of the suf- 
ferer, his vain and fmitless attempts to restore himself to 
his former situation, his continual anxiety for their success, 
his repeated disappointments upon their miscarriage, are 
what chiefly hinder him from resuming hi^ natural tran- 
quillity, and frequently render miserable, during the whole 
of his life, a man to whom a greater misfortune, but which 
plainly admitted of no remedy, would not have given a 
fortnight's disturbance. In the fall from royal favour to 


CHAP. III.] OF DUTY. 213 

disgrace, from power to insignificancy, from riches to 
poverty, from liberty to confinement, from strong health to 
■ some lingering, chronical, and, perhaps, incurable disease; 
the man who struggles the least, who most easily and 
readily acquiesces in the fortune which has fallen to him, 
very soon recovers his usual and natural tranquillity, and 
surveys the most disagreeable circumstances of his actual 
situation in the same light, or, perhaps, in a much less un- 
favourable light, than that in which the most indi£ferent 
spectator is disposed to survey them. Faction, intrigue, 
and cabal, disturb the quiet of the unfortunate statesman. 
Extravagant projects, visions of gold mines, interrupt the 
repose of the ruined bankrupt. The prisoner, who is con- 
tinually plotting to escape from his confinement, cannot 
enjoy that careless security which even a prison can afford 
him. The medicines of the physician are often the greatest 
torment of the incurable patient. The monk who, in order 
to comfort Johanna of Castile upon the death of her hus- 
band Philip, told her of a king, who, fourteen years after 
his decease, had been restored to life again by the prayers 
«f his afflicted queen, was not likely by his legendary tale 
to restore sedateness to the distempered mind of that un- 
happy princess. She endeavoured to repeat the same ex- 
periment in hopes of the same success ; resisted for a long 
time the burial of her husband, soon after raised his body 
from the grave, attended it almost constantly herself, and 
watched, with all the impatient anxiety of frantic expecta- 
tion, the happy moment when her wishes were to be grati- 
fied by the revival of her beloved Philip.* 

Our sensibility to the feelings of others, so far from being 
inconsistent with the manhood of self-command, is the very 
principle upon which that manhood is founded. The very 
same principle or instinct which, in the misfortune of our 

I * See Robertson^ Charles Y., vol. ii. pp. 14 and 15, first edition* 


214 OP THE SENSE [PART IM. 

neighbour, prompts us to compassionate his sorrow, in our 
own misfortune, prompts us to restrain the abject and 
miserable lamentations of our own sorrow. The same 
principle or instinct which, in his prosperity and saccesa, 
prompts us to congratulate his joy, in our own prosperity 
and success, prompts us to restrain the levi^ and intem- 
perance of our own joy. In both cases, the propriety of 
our own sentiments and feelings seems to be exactly in 
proportion to the vivacity and force with which we enter 
into and conceive his sentiments and feelings. 

The man of the most perfect virtue, the man whom we 
naturally love and revere the most, is he who joins, to the 
most perfect command of his own original and selfish feelings, 
the most exquisite sensibility both to the original and sym- 
pathetic feelings of others. The man who, to all the soft, 
the amiable, and the gentle virtues, joins all the great, the 
awful, and the respectable, must surely be the natural and 
proper object of our highest love and admiration. 

The person best fitted by nature for acquiring the former 
of those two sets of virtues, is likewise neeessarily be^ 
fitted for acquiring the latter. The man who feels the moM 
fbr the joys and sorrows of others, is best fitted for acquir* 
ing the most complete control of his own joys and sorrows 
The man of the most exquisite humanity is naturally the 
most capable of acquiring the highest degree of self-com* 
mand. He may not, however, always have acquired it; 
and it very frequently happens that he has not. He may 
have lived too much in ease and tranquillity. He may 
have never been exposed to the violence of faction, or to 
Ae hardships and hazards of war. He may have never 
experienced the insolence of his superiors, the jealous and 
malignant envy of his equals, or the pilfering injustice of 
his inferiors. When in an advanced age some accidental 
change of fortune exposes him to all these, they all make 


CHAP. III.] O? DUTY. 215 

. too great an impression upon bin). He has the dispositioii 
which fits him for acquiring the most perfect self-command, 
but he has never had the opportunity of acquiring it. 
Exercise and practice have been wanting; and without 
these no habit can ever be tolerably established. Hardships, 
dangers, injuries, misfortunes, are the only masters under 
whom we can learn the exercise of this virtue. But the90 aro 
all masters to whom nobody willingly puts himself to school. 

The situations in which the gentle virtue of humanity 
can be most happily cultivated, are by no means the same 
with those which are best fitted for forming the austere 
.virtue of self-command. The man who is himself at ease 
can best attend to the distress of others. The man who is 
himself exposed to hardships is most immediately called 
upon to attend to, and to control his own feelings. In the 
mild suni^ine of undisturbed tranquillity, in the calm re- 
tirement of undis^pated and philosophical leisure, the soft 
virtue of humanity flourishes the most, and is capable of 
the highest improvement. But, in such situations, the 
greatest and noblest exertions of self-command have little 
ea^rcise. Under the boisterous and stormy sky of war 
and faction, of public tumult and confusion, the sturdy 
jieverity of self-command prospers the most, and can be the 
most successfully cultivated. But, in such situations, the 
etrongest suggestions of humanity must frequently be stifled 
or neglected; and every such neglect necessarily tends ta 
weaken the principle of humanity. As it may frequently 
be the duty of a soldier not to take, so it may sometimes 
be his duty not to give quarter; and the humanity of the 
man who has been several times under the necessity of 
submitting to this disagreeable duty, can scarce fail to 
txxSer a considerable diminu<aon. For his own ease, he is 
too apt to learn to make light of the misfortunes which he 
i« so often under the necessity of occasioning ; and the 
«itoations which call forth the noblest exertions of §el£-» 


216 OF THE SENSE [PART lU. 

command, by imposing the necessity of violating sometimes 
the property, and sometimes the life of our neighbour, 
always tend to diminish, and too often to extinguish alto- 
gether, that sacred regard to both, which is the foundation 
of justice and humanity. It is upon this account that we 
so frequently find in the world men of great humanity who 
have little self-command, but who are indolent and irre- 
solute, and easily disheartened, either by difficulty or 
danger, from the most honourable pursuits ; and, on the 
contrary, men of the most perfect self-command, whom no 
difficulty can discourage, no danger appal, and who are at 
all times ready for the most daring and desperate enter- 
prizes, but who, at the same time, seem to be hardened 
against all sense either of justice or humanity. 

In solitude, we are apt to feel too strongly whatever re- 
lates to ourselves : we are apt to overrate the good offices 
we may have done, and the injuries we may have suffered : 
we are apt to be too much elated by our own good, and 
too much dejected by our own bad fortune. The conver- 
sation of a friend brings us to a better, that of a stranger 
to a still better temper. The man within the breast, the 
abstract and ideal spectator of our sentiments and conduct, 
requires often to be awakened and put in mind of his duty, 
by the presence of the real spectator : and it is always from 
that spectator, from whom we can expect the least sympathy 
and indulgence, that we are likely to learn the most com- 
plete lesson of self-command. 

Are you in adversity ? Do not mourn in the darkness d 
solitude, do not regulate your sorrow according to the in- 
dulgent sympathy of your intimate friends ; return, as soon 
as possible, to the daylight of the world and of society. 
Live with strangers, with those who know nothing, or care 
nothing about your misfortune ; do not even shun the com- 
pany of enemies ; but give yourself the pleasure of morti- 


CDAP. ni.] or DUTY. 217 

fyingtiieir malignant J07, by making them feel how little 
you are affected by your calamity, and how much you are 
above it. 

Are you in prosperity ? Do not confine the enjoyment of 
your good fortune to your own house, to the company of 
your own friends, perhaps of your flatterers, of those who 
build upon your fortune the hopes of mending their own ; 
frequent those who are independent of you, who can value 
you only for your character and conduct, and not. for your 
fortune. Neither seek nor shun, neither intrude yourself 
into, nor run away from, the society of those who were once 
your superiors, and who may be hurt at finding you their 
equal, or, perhaps, even their superior. The impertinence 
of their pride may, perhaps, render their company too dis- 
agreeable : but if it should not, be assured that it is the best 
company you can possibly keep ; and if by the simplicity 
of your unassuming demeanour you can gain their favour 
and kindness, you may rest satisfied that you are modest 
enough, and that your head has been in no respect turned 
by your good fortune. 

The propriety of our moral sentiments is never so apt 
to be corrupted as when the indulgent and partial specta- 
tor is at hand, while the indifferent and. impartial one is at 
a great distance. 

Of the conduct of one independent nation towards another, 
neutral nations are the only indifferent and impartial spec- 
tators. But they are placed at so great a distance that they 
are almost quite out of sight. When two nations are at 
vacriance, the citizen of each pays little regard to the senti- 
ments which foreign nations may entertain concerning his 
conduct. His whole ambition is to obtain the approbation 
of his own fellow-citizens ; and as they are all animated by 
the same hostile passions which animate himself, he can . 


218 OV^ TBB BWaXBE [PART JOi 

never please them so mueii as hy enragiag and offei^bg 
their enemies. The partial spectator is at hand : the in# 
partial one at a great distance. In war and negotiation^ 
therefore, the laws of justice are very seldom observed. 
Truth and fiEiir dealing are almost totally disregarded. 
Treaties are violated ; and the violation, if some advantage 
is gained by it, sheds scarce any dishonour upon the violator* 
The ambassador who dupes the minister of a foreign nation 
is admired and applauded. The just man who disdains 
either to take or to give any advantage, but who would 
think it less dishonourable to give liian to take one^-^tha 
man who in all private transactions would be the most be* 
loved and the most esteemed, in those public transactions 
is regarded as a fool and an idiot, who doeanot understand 
his business, and he incurs always the contempt, and some* 
times even the detestation, of his fellow-dtizenEk In war, 
not only what are called the laws of nations are frequently 
violated, without bringing (among his own fellow-citizens^ 
whose judgments he only regards) any considerable dis* 
honour upon the violator ; but those laws themselves ar% 
the greater part of them, laid down with v^y little regard 
to the plainest and most obvious rules of justice. That the 
innocent, though they may have some connection or depen- 
dency upon the guilty (which, perhaps, they themselves 
cannot help), should not upon that account suffer or be 
punished for the guilty, is one of the plainest and most 
obvious rules of justice. In the most unjust war, however, 
it is commonly the sovereigri or the rulers only who are 
guilty. The subjects are almost always perfectly innocent 
Whenever it suits the conveniency of a public enemy, hoir^ 
ever, the goods of the peaceable citizens are seized both al 
land and at sea ; their lands are laid waste, their houses aie 
burnt, and they themselves, if they pnsiume to make any 
xiesistance, are murdered or led into captivity ; and all this 
Sn the most perfect conformity to what are called the lawi 
of nations. 


OHAP. I1I.J OPDUTT. 219 

The animonty of hostile factions, whether eivil or eeclesi* 
afltical, is often still more furious than that of hostile na<- 
tions, and their conduct towards one another is often still 
more atrooions. What may he called the laws of faction 
have often heen laid down by grave authors with still less 
regard to the rales of justice than what are called the lavrs 
of nations* The rnont ferocious patriot never stated it as a 
serious question, whether faith ought to be kept with pubr 
lie enemies. — ^Whether faith ought to be kept with rebels; 
whether faith ought to be kept with heretics ; are qtiestiQiis 
which have been often furiously agitated, by celebrated 
doctors, both civil and ecclesiastical. It is needless to ob* 
serve, I presume, that both rebels and heretics are those 
unlucky persons, who, when things have come to a certain 
degree of violence, have the misfortune to be of the weaker 
party. In a nation distracted by faction, there are, no 
doubt, always a few, though commonly but a very few, who 
preserve their judgment untainted by the genercd contagion* 
They seldom amount to more titan here and there a solit- 
tary individual, without any influence, excluded by his own 
candour from the confidence of either party, and' who^ 
though he may be one of the wisest, is necessarily upon, 
fiiat very account one of the most insignificant men in. the 
society. All such people are held in contempt and derision^ 
frequently in detestation, by the fhrious zealots of both par- 
ties. A true party-man hates and despises candour ; and^ 
in reality, there is no vice whidli could so effectually dis^ 
qualify him for the trade of a party-man as that single 
virtue. The real, revered, and impartial spectator, there- 
fore, is upon no occasion at a greater distance than amidst 
tiie violence and rage of contending parties. To diem it 
may be said, that such a spectator scarce exists anywhere 
in the universe. Even to the great Judge of the universe 
they impute all their own prejudices, and ofl^n view that 
divine Being as animated by all their own vindictive and 
implacable passions. Of all the corrupters of moral senti- 


220 OF THS 8EIISE [pART. IIL 

ments, thereforei faction and fanaticism have always been 
by far the greatest. 

Concerning the subject of self-command, I shall only ob- 
serve further, that our admiration for the man who, under 
the heaviest and most unexpected misfortunes, continues to 
behave with fortitude and firmness, always supposes that 
his sensibility to those misfortunes is very great, and such 
as it requires a very great effort to conquer or command. 
The man who . was altogether insensible to bodily pain, 
could deserve no applause from enduring the torture with 
the most perfect patience and equanimity. The man who 
had been created without the natural fear of death, could 
claim no merit from preservmg his coolness and presence of 
mind in the midst of the most dreadful dangers. It is one 
of the extravagancies of Seneca, that the Stoical wise man 
was, in this respect, superior even to a god ; that the secu- 
rity of the god was altogether the benefit of nature, which 
had exempted him from suffering ; but that the security of 
the wise man was his own benefit, and derived altogether 
from himself and from his own exertions. 

The sensibility of some men, however, to some of the 
objects which immediately affect themselves, is sometimes 
so strong as to render all self-command impossible. No 
sense of honour can control the fears of the man who is 
weak enough to faint, or to fall into convulsions, upon the 
approach of danger. Whether such weakness of nerves, as 
it has been called, may not by gradual exercise and proper 
discipline admit of some cure, may perhaps be doubtful. 
It seems certain that it ought never to be trusted or em- 
ployed. 


CnAP. IT.] OF DUTY. 221 


CHAPTER IV. 

Of the Nature of Self-deceit^ and of ike Ori^n and Use of 

general Bides, 

In order to pervert the rectitude of our own judgments 
concerning the propriety of our own conduct, it is not always 
necessary that the real and impartial spectator should be at a 
great distance. When he is at hand, when he is present, the 
violence and injustice of our own selfish passions are some- 
times sufficient to induce the man within the breast to make 
a report very different from what the real circumstances of 
the case are capable of authorizing. 

There are two different occasions upon which we examine 
our own conduct, and endeavour to view it in the light in 
which the impartial spectator would view it : first, when 
we are about to act; and, secondly, after we have acted. 
Our views are apt to be very partial in both cases ; but they 
are apt to be most partial when it is of most importance that 
they should be otherwise. 

When we are about to act, the eagerness of passion will 
seldom allow us to consider what we are doing with the 
candour of an indifferent person. The violent emotions 
which at that time agitate us, discolour our views of things, 
even when we are endeavouring to place ourselves in the 
situation of another, and to regard the objects that interest • 
us in the light in which they will naturally appear to him. 
The fury of our own passions constantly calls us back to our 
own place, where every thing appears magnified and misre- 
presented by self-love. Of the manner in which those ob- 
jects would appear to another, of the view which he would 


222 OF THB SENSE [PABT. UU 

take of them, we can obtain, if I may say so, but instanta- 
neous glimpses, wbicb vanish in a moment, and which, even 
while they last, are not altogether just. We cannot even 
for that moment diveSt ourselves entirely of the heat and 
keenness with which our peculiar situation inspires us, nor 
consider what 'vre aze about to do with the complete impar- 
tiality of an equitable judge. The passions, upon this 
account, as Father Malebranche says, all justify themselves, 
ssod seem reasonable and proportioned to their objects as 
.long as we contisEe to feel them. 

When the«aciion is over, ind«ed, and the passioiiB whidi 
prompted it have subsided, we can enter more coolly into 
the sentiments of the indifferent ii^ctator. What before 
interested its is now become almost as indifibrentto us as it 
always was to him, and we can now examine our own conduct 
with his candour and impartiality. The man of to-day is 
fko longer agitated by the same passions which distracted 
•the man of yesterday : and when the:paroxysm of emotion, 
in the same manner as when the paroocysm of distress, is 
fairly over, we can identify ourselves, as it were, with the 
ideal man within the brecist, and, in oar own character, 
^ew, as in the one case our own situation, so in the other 
our own conduct, with the severe eyes of the most impartial 
spectator. But our judgments now are often of little im- 
;portance In comparkon of what they were before, and can 
'frequently produce nothing but vain regret and unavailing 
^repentance, without always securing us from the like er- 
rors in time to come. It is seldom, however, that they are 
'quite candid even in this case. The opinion whieh we ea- 
tertain of our own character depends entirely on our judg- 
onent concerning our past conduct. It is so disagreeable 
to think ill of ourselves, that we often purposely turn away 
our view from those circumstances which might render that 
judgment unfavourable. He is a bold surgeon, they say, 
whose hand does not tremble when he performs an opera- 


CHAP. IV.J OW PUTY. S23 

iioVL upon his own penion ; and he is often equally bold who 
does not hesitate to pull off the mjnsterioua Teil of self-de- 
lusion whioh oovers from his view the deformities of his 
own conduct. Bather than see our own behaviour under 
so disagreeable an aspect, we too often, foolishly and weakly, 
endeavour to exasperate anew those unjust passions which 
had formerly misled us ; we endeavour by artifice to awa- 
ken our old hatreds, and irritate afresh our almost forgotten 
resentments: we even exert ourselves for this miserable 
purpose, and thus persevere in injustice, merely because wo 
once were unjust, and because we are ashamed and afraid 
to see that we were so. 

So partial are the view« of mankind with regard to the 
propriety of their own conduct, both at the time of action 
and after it ; and so difficult is it for them to view it in the 
light in which any indifferent spectator would consider 
it. But if it was by a peculiar faculty, such as the 
moral sense is supposed to be, that they judged of their 
own conduct, if they were endued with a particular power 
of perception, which distinguished the beauty or de- 
iamdty of passions and affections ; as their own passions 
would be more immediately ea&posed to the view of this 
fiioulty, it would judge with more accuracy concerning them 
than concerning those of other men, of which it had only a 
more distant prospect. 

This self-deceit, this fatal weakness of mankind, is the 
source of half the disorders of human life. If we saw 
ourselves in the light in which others see us, or in which 
they would see us if they knew all, a reformation would 
generally be unavoidable. We could not other^'ise endure 
the sight. 

Nature, however, has not left this weakness, whioh ia of 
so much importance^ altogether without a remedy ; nor has 


224 OF THE SENSE [PART III. 

she abandoned ns entirely to the delnnons of self-love. 
Our continual observations upon the conduct of others in- 
sensibly lead us to form to ourselves certain general rules 
concerning what is 'fit and proper either to be done or to be 
avoided. Some of their actions shock all our natural sen- 
timents. We hear every body about us express the like 
detestation against them. This still further confirms, and 
even exasperates, our natural sense of their deformity. It 
satisfies us that we view them in the proper light, when we 
see other people view them in the same light. We re- 
solve never to be guilty of the like, nor ever, upon any ac- 
count, to render ourselves in this manner the objects^ of 
universal disapprobation. We thus naturally lay down to 
ourselves a general rule, that all such actions are to be 
avoided, as tending to render us odious, contemptible, or 
punishable, — ^the objects of all those sentiments for which we 
have the greatest dread and aversion. Other actions,- on 
the contrary, call forth our approbation, ^nd we hear every 
body around us express the same favourable opinion con- 
cerning them. Every body is eager to honour and reward 
them. They excite all those sentiments for which we have 
by nature the strongest desire ; the love, the gratitude, the 
admiration, of mankind. We become ambitious of perform- 
ing the like ; and thus naturally lay down to ourselves a 
rule of another kind, that every opportunity of acting in 
this manner is carefully to be sought after. 

It is thus that the general rules of morality are formed. 
They are ultimately founded upon experience of what, in 
particular instances, our moral faculties, our natural sense 
of merit and propriety, approve or disapprove of. We do 
not originally approve or condemn particular actions, 
because, upon examination, they appear to be agreeable or 
inconsistent with a certain general rule. The general rule, 
on the contrary, is formed by finding from experience that 
all actions of a certain kind, or circumstauced in a certain 


CHAP. IV.] OF DUTY, 225 

manner, are approved or disapproved of. To the man who 
first saw an inhuman murder committed from avarice, enyy, 
or unjust resentment, and upon one, too, that loved and 
trusted the murderer ; who heheld the last agonies of the 
dying person ; .who heard him with his expiring breath 
complain more of the perfidy and ingratitude of his false 
friend than. of the violence which had been done to him ; 
there could be no occasion, in order to conceive how hor- 
rible such an action was, that he should reflect, that one of 
the most sacred rules of conduct was what prohibited the 
taking away the life of an innocent person, that this was a 
plain violation of that rule, and, consequently, a very blame- 
able action. His detestation of this crime, it is evident, 
would arise instantaneously and antecedent to his having 
formed to himself any such general rule. The general rule, 
on the contrary, which he might afterwards form, would be 
founded upon the detestation which he felt necessarily arise 
in his own breast, at the thought of this and every other 
particular action of the same kind. 

When we read in history, or romance the account of ac- 
tions either of generosity or of baseness, the admiration 
which we conceive for the one, and the contempt which we 
feel for the other, neither of them arise from reflecting.that 
there are certain general rules which declare all actions of 
the one kind admirable, and all actions of the other con- 
temptible. Those general rules, on the contrary, are all 
formed from the experience we have had of .the effects 
which actions of all different, kinds naturally produce 
upon us. 

. An amiable action, a respectable action, an horrid action, 
are all of them actions which naturally excite for the person 
who performs them, the love, the respect, or the horror of 
Jie spectator. The general rules which determine what 
actions are, and what are not, the objects of each of those 


326 OF THE SENSE [pABT ID. 

sentiments, can be formed no other waj ihaa hj observing 
wbat actions actnally and in fact excite them. 

When these general rules, indeed, have been formed, 
when they are universallj acknowledged and established, 
by the concurring sentiments of mankind, we frequently ap- 
peal to them as to the standards of judgment, in debating 
concerning the degree of praise or blame that is due to cer* 
tain actions of a complicated and dubious nature. They 
are upon these occasions commonly cited as the ultimate 
foundations of what is just and unjust in human conduct; 
and this circumstance seems to have misled several very 
eminent authors, to draw up their systems in such a manner 
as if they had supposed that the original judgments of 
mankind with regard to right and wrong were formed like 
the decisions of a court of judicatory, by considering first the 
general rule, and then, secondly, whether the particular action 
under consideration fell properly within its comprehension. 

Those general rules of conduct, when they have been 
fixed in our mind by habitual reflection, are of great use in 
correcting the miwepresentations of self-love concerning 
what is fit and proper to be done in our particular situation. 
The man of furious resentment, if he was to listen to the 
dictates of that passion, would, perhaps, regard the death 
of his enemy as but a small compensation for the wrong 
he imagines he has received, which, however, may be no 
more than a very slight provocation. But his observations 
upon the conduct of others have taught him how horrible 
all such sanguinary revenges appear. Unless his education 
has been very singular, he has laid it down to himself as an 
inviolable rule, to abstain from them upon all occasions. 
This rule preserves its authority with him, and renders him 
incapable of being guilty of such a violence. Yet the furj - 
of his own temper may be such, tliat had this been the firs^ 
time in which he considered such an action, he would uii- 


CHAP. rv.J OF Dtmr. 227 

donbtedly have determined it to be quite just and proper 
and what every impartial spectator would approve of. But 
that reverence for the rule which past experience has impress- 
ed upon him, checks the impetuosity of his passion, and 
hdips him to correct the too' partial views which self-love 
might otherwise suggest of what was proper to be done in 
his situation. If he should allow himself to be so far trans- 
ported by passion as to violate this rule, yet, even in this 
case, he cannot throw off altogether the awe and respect 
with which he has been accustomed to regard it. At the 
very time of acting, at the moment in which passion moimts 
the highest, he hesitates and trembles at the thought of 
what he is about to do : he is secretly conscious to himself 
that he is breaking through those measures of conduct which, 
in all his cool hours, he had resolved never to infringe, which 
he had never seen infringed by others without the highest 
disapprobation, and the infringement of which, his own mind 
forebodes, must soon render him the object of the same 
disagreeable sentiments. Before he can take the last fatal 
resolution, he is tormented with aU the agonies of doubt 
and uncertainty ; he is terrified at the thought of violating 
so sacred a rule, and at the same time is urged and goaded on 
by the fury of his desires to violate it. He changes his pur- 
pose every moment ; sometimes he resolves to adhere to his 
principle, and not indulge a passion which may corrupt the 
remaining part of his life with the horrors of shame and re- 
pentance ; and a momentary calm takes possession of his 
breast, from the prospect of that security and tranquillity 
which he will enjoy when he thus determines not to expose 
himself to the hazard of a contrary conduct. But immedi- 
ately the passion rouses anew, and with fresh fury drives 
him on to commit what he had the instant before resolved 
to abstain fromi. Wearied and distracted with those con- 
tinual irresolutions, he at length, from a sort of despair, 
makes the last fatal and irrecoverable step ; but with that 
terror and amazement with which one flying from an enemy 


228 


THE SENSE 


[PABT in. 


throws himself over a precipice, where he is sure of meeting 
with more certain destruction than from any thing that pur- 
sues him from hehind. Such are his sentiments even at the 
time of JELCting ; though he is then, no doubt, less sensible 
of the impropriety of his own conduct than afterwards, 
when his passion being gratified and palled, he begins to 
view what he has done in the light in which others are apt 
to view it ; and actually feels, what he had only foreseen 
very imperfectly before, the stings of remorse and repent- ' 
ance begin to agitate and torment him. 


OHAF. v.] OP DUTY. 229 


CHAPTER V, 

Of the Influence and Authority of the general Rulee of 
Morality, and that they are jusUy regarded as the Laws 
of the Deity. 

The regard to those general roles of conduct is what is pro- 
perly called a sense of duty, a principle of the greatest conse- 
quence in human life, and the only principle by which the 
bulk of mankind are capable of directing their actions* 
Many men behave very decently, and through the whole of 
their lives avoid any considerable degree of blame, who yetj 
perhaps, never felt the sentiment upon the propriety of 
which we found our approbation of their conduct, but acted 
merely from a regard to what they saw were the established 
rules of behaviour. The man who has received great bene- 
fits from another person, may, by the natural coldness of his 
temper, feel but a very smaU degree of the sentiment of 
gratitude. If he has been virtuously educated, however, 
he will often have been made to observe how odious those 
actions appear which' denote a want of this sentiment, and 
how amiable the contrary. Though his heart, therefore, is 
not warmed with any grateful affection, he will strive to act 
as if it was, and will endeavour to pay all those regards and 
attentions to his patron which the liveliest gratitude could 
suggest. He will visit him regularly ; he wiU behave to 
him respectfully; he will never talk of him but widi ex- 
pressions of the highest esteem, and of the many obligations 
which he owes to him. And, what is more, he will careMly 
embrace every opportunity of making a proper return for 
past services. He may do all this, too, without any hypo- 
crisy or blameable dissimulation, without any sel€sb inten- 


230 OF THE SENSE [PART m. 

tion of obtaining new favours, and without any design of 
imposing either upon his benefactor or the public. The 
motive of his actions may be no other than a reverence for 
the established rule of duty, a serious and earnest desire of 
acting, in every respect, according to the law of gratitude. 
A wife, in the same manner, may sometimes not feel that 
tender regard for her husband which is suitable to the re- 
lation that subsists between them. If she has been virtu- 
ously educated, however, she will endeavour to act as if 
she felt it, to be careful, officious, faithful, and sincere, and 
to be deficient in none of those attentions which ihe senti- 
ment of conjugal affeetion could have prompted her to per^* 
foam. Such a friend, and such a wife, are neither of them, 
undoubtedly, the very best of their kinds ; and though botii 
of them may have the most serious and earnest desire to 
fdiSl every part of their duty, yet they will fail in many 
nice and delicate regards, they will miss many opportunitieB 
of obliging, which they could never have overlooked if they 
bad possessed the sentiment that is proper to their situation. 
Thou^ not the very first of their kinds, however, they are 
perhaps the second ; and if the regard to the general roles 
of conduct has been very strongly impressed upon them, 
neither of them will faU in any very essential part of their 
duty. None but those of the happiest mould are capable of 
suiting, with exact justness, their sentiments and behaviour 
to the smallest difference of situation, and of acting upon 
all occasions with the most delicate and accurate propriety. 
The coarse clay of which the bulk of mankind are formed, 
eannot be wrought up to such perfection, lliere is scarce 
any man, however, who by discipline, education, and ex- 
ample, may not be so impressed with a regard to general 
roles, as to act upon almost every occasion wil^ tolerable 
decency, and through the whole of his life to ay<Md any 
considerable degree of blame. 

Without this sacred regard to general roles, liiere is ao 


CHAP, v.] OF DUTY. 231 

man whose conduct can be much depended upon- It is 
this which constitutes the most essential difference l^tween 
a man of principle and honour and a worthless fellow. The 
one adheres, on all occasions, steadily and resolutely to his 
maxims, and preserves, through the whole of his life, one 
even tenor of conduct. The other acts variously and 
accidentally, as humour, inclination, or interest, chance to 
be uppermost. Nay, such are the inequalities of humour 
to which all men are subject, that without this principle, 
the man who, in all his cool hours, had the most delicate 
sensibility to the propriety of conduct, might often be led 
to act absurdly upon the most frivolous occasions, and when 
it was scarce possible to assign any serious motive for his 
behaving in this manner. Your friend makes you a visit 
when you happen to be in a humour which makes it dis- 
agreeable to receive him ; in your present mood his civi- 
lity is very apt to appear an impertinent intrusion ; and 
if you were to give way to the views of things which at 
this time occur, though civil in your temper, you would 
behave to him with coldness and contempt. What renders 
you incapable of such a rudeness is nothing but a regard 
to the general rules of civility and hospitality, which pro- 
hibit it. That habitual reverence which your former ex- 
perience has taught you for these, enables you to act, upon 
all such occasions, with nearly equal propriety, and hinders 
those inequalities of temper, to which all men are subject, 
from influencing your conduct in any very sensible degree. 
But if without regard to these general rules, even the duties 
<^ politeness, which are so easily observed, and which one 
can scarce have any serious motive to violate, would yet 
be so frequently violated, what would become of the duties 
of justice, of truth, of chastity, of fidelity, which it is often 
so difficult to observe, and which there may b& so many 
strong motives to violate ? But upon the tolerable observ- 
ance of these duties depends the very existence of human 
society, which would crumble into nothing if mankind were 


982 OF THE 8ENBE [PAKT m. 

not generally impressed with a reverence for those impor- 
tant rules of conduct. 

This reverence is still further enhanced by an opinion 
which is first impressed by nature, and afterwards con- 
firmed by reasoning and philosophy, that those important 
rules of morality are the commands and laws of the Deity, 
who will finally reward the obedient, and punish the trans- 
gressors of their duty. 

This opinion or apprehension, I say, seems first to be 
impressed by nature. Men are naturally led to ascribe to 
those mysterious beings, whatever they are, which happen 
in any country to be the objects of religious fear, all their 
own sentiments and passions. They have no other, they 
can conceive no other, to ascribe to them. Those unknown 
intelligences which they imagine but see not, must neces- 
sarily be formed with some sort of resemblance to those 
intelligences of which they have experience* During the 
ignorance and darkness of pagan superstition, mankind 
seem to have formed the ideas of their divinities with so 
little delicacy, that they ascribed to them, indiscriminately, 
all the passions of human nature, those not excepted which 
do the least honour to our species, such as lust, hunger, 
avarice, envy, revenge. They could not fail, therefore, to 
ascribe to those beings, for the excellence of whose nature 
they still conceived the highest admiration, those sentiments 
and qualities which are the great ornaments of humanity, 
and which seem to raise it to a resemblance of divine per- 
fection, the love of virtue and beneficence, and the abhor- 
rence of vice and injustice. The man who was injured 
called upon Jupiter to be witness of the wrong that was 
done to him, and could not doubt but that divine being 
would behold it with the same indignation which would 
animate the meanest of mankind, who looked on when in- 
justice was committed. The man who did the injury fek 


CHAP, v.] OF Durr. 233 

himself to be the proper object of tne detestation and re- 
sentment of mankind ; and his natural fears led him to im- 
pute the same sentiments to those awful beings, whose 
presence he could not avoid, and whose power he could not 
resist. These natural hopes, and fears, and suspicions, were 
propagated by sympathy, and confirmed by education ; and 
the gods were universally represented and believed to be 
the rewarders of humanity and mercy, and the avengers of 
perfidy and injustice. And thus religion, even in its rudest 
form, gave a sanction to the rules of morality, long before 
the age of artificial reasoning and philosophy. That the 
terrors of religion should thus enforce the natural sense of 
duty, was of too much importance to the happiness of man- 
kind for nature to leave it dependent upon the slowness 
and- uncertainty of philosophical researches. 

These researches, however, when they came to take place, 
confirmed those original anticipations of nature. Upon 
whatever we suppose that our moral faculties are founded, 
whether upon a certain modification of reason, upon an 
original instinct, called a moral sense, or upon some other 
principle of our nature, it cannot be doubted that they were 
given us for the direction of our conduct in this life. They 
carry along with them the most evident badges of this 
authority, which denote that they were set up within us to 
be the supreme arbiters of all our actions, to superintend 
all our senses, passions, and appetites, and to judge how 
far each of them was either to be indulged or restrained. 
Our moral faculties are by no means, as some have pre- 
tended, upon a level in this respect with the other faculties 
and appetites of our nature, endowed with no more right to 
restrain these last, than these last are to restrain them. No 
other faculty or principle of action judges of any other. 
Love does not judge of resentment, nor resentment of love. 
Those two passions may be opposite to one another, but 
cannot, with any propriety, be said to approve or disap- 


S8i OF THE SENSE f PA^T III. 

prove of one anoHier. But it is the peculiar offiee of those 
Acuities uowunder our consideration to judge, to bestow cen- 
sure or applause upon all the other principles of our nature. 
They may be considered as a sort of senses, of which those 
principles are the objects. Every sense is supreme over 
its own objects. There is no appeal from the eye with 
regard to the beauty of colours, nor from the ear with re- 
gard to the harmony of sounds, nor from the taste with 
regard to the agreeableness of flavours. Each of those 
senses judges in the last resort of its own objects. What- 
ever graitifies the taste is sweet, whatever pleases the eye 
is beautiful, whatever soothes the ear is harmonious. The 
very essence of each of those qualities consists in its being 
fitted to please the sense to which it is addressed. It be- 
longs to our moral faculties, in the same manner, to deter- 
mine when the ear ought to be soothed, when the eye ought 
to be indulged, when the taste ought to be gratified, when 
and how far every other principle of our nature ought either 
to be indulged or restrained. What is agreeable to our 
moral faculties, is fit, and right, and proper to be done ; the 
contrary, wrong, unfit, and improper. The sentiments 
which they approve of are graceful and becoming ; the oon- 
trary, ungraceful and unbecoming. The very words, right, 
wrong, fit, improper, graceful, unbecoming, mean only what 
pleases or displeases those faculties. 

Since these, therefore, were plainly intended to be the 
governing principles of human nature, the rules which they 
prescribe are to be regarded as the commands and laws of 
the Deity, promulgated by those vicegerents which he has 
thus set up within us. All general rules are commonly deno- 
minated laws : thus the general rules which bodies observe in 
the communication of motion, are called the laws of motion- 
But those general rules which our moral faculties observe in 
approving or condemning whatever sentiment or action is 
subjected to their examination, may much more justly be 


I 


CHAF. v.] 0» DUTY. 285 

denominated sucli. Thej have a much greater resemblance 
to what are properlj called laws, those general rules which 
the sovereign lays down to direct the conduct of his subjects, 
like them they are rules to direct the free actions of men : 
they are prescribed most surely by a lawful superior, and are 
attended too with the sanction of rewards and punishments. 
Those vicegerents of God within us never fedl to punish the 
violation of them by the torments of inward shame and self- 
condemnation ; and, on the contrary, always reward obe- 
dience with trimqmllity of mind, with contentment, and self- 
satisfaction. 

There are innumerable olher considerations which serve 
to confirm the same conclusion. The happiness of mankind 
aa well as of all other rational creatures, seems to have been 
{he original purpose intended by the Author of Nature when 
he brought them into existence. No olher end seems worthy 
of that supreme wisdom and divine benignity which we ne- 
cessarily ascribe to him ; and this opinion, which we are led 
to by the abstract consideration of his infinite perfections, is 
still more confirmed by the examination of the works of Na« 
tore, which seem all intended to promote happiness, and to 
guard against misery. But, by acting according to the dic- 
tates of our moral faculties, we necessarily pursue the most 
effectual means for promoting the happiness of mankind, and 
may therefore be said, in some sense, to co-operate with the 
Deity, and to advance, as far as in our power, the plan ci 
providence. By acting otiierwise, on the contrary, we 
seem to obstruct, in some measure, the scheme which the 
Author of Nature has established for the happiness and per- 
fection of the world, and to declare ourselves, if I may say 
sot, in some measure the enemies of God. Hence we are 
naturally encouraged to hope for his extraordinary favour 
and reward in the one case, and to dread his vengeance and 
piqnishment in the other. 


S38 OF THE aEN8E |^PART m. 

•Tery kind, the natnral consequences of prudence, kidustiyy 
and application ; qualities with which those virtues are net 
inseparably connected. Fraud, falsehood, brutality, and 
yiolence, on the other hand, excite in every human breast 
such scorn and abhorrence, that our indignation rouses to 
see them possess those advantages which they may in some 
sense be said to have merited, by the diligence and industry 
with which they are sometimes attended. The industrious 
knave cultivates the soil ; the indolent good man leaves it un ^ 
cultivated. Who ought to reap the harvest? Who starve, 
and who live in plenty ? The natural course of things de- 
cides it in favour of the knave : the natural sentimenti of main 
kind in favour of the man of virtue. Man judges that the 
good qualities of the one are greatly over-recompensed by 
those advantages which they tend to procure him, and that 
the omissions of the other are by far too severely ^punished by 
the distress which they naturally bring upon him ; and human 
laws, the consequences of human sentiments, forfeit the life 
and the estate of the industrious and cautious traitor, and 
reward, by extraordinary recompences, the fidelity and pub- 
lic spirit of the improvident and careless good citizen. 
Thus man is by nature directed to correct, in some measure, 
that distribution of things which she herself would other- 
wise have made. The rules which for tiiis purpose she 
prompts him to follow, are different from those which she 
herself observes. She bestows upon every virtue, and up- 
on every vice, that precise reward or punishment which is 
best fitted to encourage the one, or to restrain the other. 
She is directed by this sole consideration, and pays litde 
regard to the different degrees of merit and demerit whidi 
they may seem to possess in the sentiments and passions oi 
man. Man, on the contrary, pays regard to Ihis only, and 
would endeavour to render the state of every virtue pre- 
cisely proportioned to that degree of love and esteem, and 
of every vice to that degree of contempt and abhorrence, 
which he himself conceives for it. The rules which ih» 


CHAP. V.J 0» DUTT, 289 

follows are fit for her, those which he follows for him : but 
both are calculated to promote the same great end, the order 
of the world, and the perfection and happiness of human 
nature. 

But though man is thus employed to alter that distribu- 
tion of things which natural events would make, if left to 
themselves ; though like the gods of the poets he is perpe- 
tually interposing, by extraordinary means, in favour of 
virtue and in opposition to vice, and, like them, endeavours 
to turn away the arrow that is aimed at the head of the 
righteous, but to accelerate the sword of destruction that is 
lifted up against the wicked ; yet he is by no means able to 
render the fortune of either quite suitable to his own senti- 
ments and wishes. The natural course of things cannot be 
entirely controlled by the impotent endeavours of man : the 
current is too rapid and too strong for him to stop it ; and 
though the rules which direct it appear to have been estab- 
lished for the wisest and best purposes, they sometimes 
produce effects which shock all his natural sentiments. 
That a great combination of men should prevail over a 
small one; that those who engage in an enterprize with 
forethought and all necessary preparation, should prevail 
over such as oppose them without any; and that every end 
should be acquired by those means only which nature has 
established for acquiring it, seems to be a rule not only 
necessary and unavoidable in itself, but even useful and 
proper for rousing the industry and attention of mankind. 
Yet when, in consequence of this rule, violence and arti- 
fice prevail over sincerity and justice, what indignation 
does it not excite in the breast of every human spectator ? 
What sorrow and compassion for the sufferings of the inno- 
cent, and what furious resentment against the success of 
ihe oppressor ? We are equally grieved and enraged at the 
wrong that is done, but often find it altogether out of our 
power to redress it. When we thus despair of finding any 


^ I 


240 OF THE SENSE [pART m. 

force upon eaiih which can check the triumph of injustice, 
we naturally appeal to heaven, and hope that the great 
Author of our nature will himself execute hereafter, what all 
the principles which he has given us for the direction of 
our conduct prompt us to attempt even here ; that he will 
complete the plan which he himself has thus taught us to 
begin ; and will, in a life to come, render to every one ac- 
cording to the works which he has performed in this world. 
And thus we are led to the belief of a future state, not 
only by the weaknesses, by the hopes and fears of human 
nature, but by the noblest and best principles which belong 
to it, by the love of virtue, and by the abhorrence of vice 
and injustice. 

** Does it suit tlie greatness of God," says the eloquent 
and philosophical Bishop of Clermont, with that passionate 
and exaggerating force of imagination which seems some- 
times to exceed the bounds of decorum ;. '' does it suit the 
greatness of God to leave the world which he has created 
in so universal a disorder? To see the wicked prevail al- 
most always over the just ; the innocent dethroned by the 
usurper ; the father become the victim of the ambition of an 
unnatural son ; the husband expiring under the stroke of a 
barbarous and faithless wife ? From the height of his great- 
ness ought God to behold those melancholy events as a fan- 
tastical amusement, without taking any share in them ? Be- 
cause he is great, should he be weak, or unjust, or barbar- 
ous? Because men are little, ought they to be allowed 
either to be dissolute without punishment, or virtuous with • 
out reward ? God ! if this is the character of your su- 
preme being ; if it is you whom we adore under such dread- 
ful ideas ; I can no longer acknowledge you for my father, 
for my protector, for the comforter of my sorrow, the sup- 
port of my weakness, the rewarder of my fidelity. You 
would then be no more than an indolent and fantastical 
tyrant, who sacrifices mankind to his insolent vanity, and 


CHAP. V.J OP DUTY. 241 

who has brought them out of nothing, only to make them 
serve for the sport of his leisure and of his caprice." 

When the general rules which determine the merit and 
demerit of actions come thus to be regarded as the laws of 
an all-powerful being, who watches over our conduct, and 
who, in a life to come, will reward the observance and 
punish the breach of them — they necessarily acquire a new 
sacredness from this consideration. That our regard to the 
will of the Deity ought to be the supreme rule of our con* 
duct, can be doubted of by nobody who believes his exist- 
ence. The very thought of disobedience appears to involve 
in it the most shocking impropriety. How vam, how ab- 
surd would it be for man, either to oppose or to neglect the 
commands that were laid upon him by infinite wisdom and 
infinite pOwer I How unnatural, how impiously ungrate- 
ful not to reverence the precepts that were prescribed to 
him by the infinite goodness of his Creator, even though 
no punishment was to follow their violation ! The sense 
of propriety, too, is here well supported by the strongest 
motives of self-interest. The idea that, however we may 
escape the observation of man or be placed above the 
reach of human punishment, yet we are always acting 
under the eye and exposed to the punishment of God, the 
great avenger of injustice, is a motive capable of restrain- 
ing the most headstrong passions, with those at least who, 
by constant reflection, have rendered it familiar to them. 

It is in this manner that religion enforces the natural 
sense of duty : and hence it is that mankind are generally 
disposed to place great confidence in the probity of those 
who seem deeply impressed with religious sentiments. 
Such persons, they imagine, act under an additional tie, 
besides those which regulate the conduct of other men. 
The regard to the propriety of action, as well as to reputa^ 
tion ; the regard to the applause of his own breast, as well 

R 


948 OV THG gBNSE [PABT. m. 

IBS to tliftt of otbeis ; are motiveB wkich, they suppose, htcve 
the same mflaenee over the reUgious imin as over the maa 
of the world. But the former lies under another restraint, 
«Bd never aets deliijetately btit as in the presence of tiiat 
giBat Superior vho n finaflj to recompense him aooosd- 
^g to his deeds. A .greater trust is reposed, upcoi this ac- 
count, m lihe regularitj and exactness^ his conduct. Aad 
idierever tiie natund principles of religion are not cormpi- 
ed hy the fectbus and party zeal of some wor&kss eabal; 
wherever the first duty widch it requixes is lo fulfil all ihe 
obligatiotis of morality ; wherever men are act taught tore* 
gard frivolotts observanemi as more immediate duties of ie» 
ligion than acts of justice «nd benefieenoe^ and to imagm^ 
that by sacrifices, »iid eevemonies, aoid vain 8upplicatio0% 
they can bargain wiith the Dehy for fraud, and perfidy, and 
violence, the woiM imdoubtetHy judges right in this n- 
spect, and justly places a double ^onfideaoe ia Ihe xedti* 
tude of tiM religious man's behaviour. 


CHAP. rL J OF DUTY. 348 


CHAPTEB VL 

£n tvhaicasei the Seme oflhtiy ought tobeffte eoleJMndplc 
ofoyr Conduct; and in what eases U ought to concur with 
other MoihfeA, 

"REUQim Affords aach strong motives to the piactioe of 
virtue, and guards us hy sucii powerful restrfldnts from the 
temptatioiis of idee, tliat: manj have been led to suppose 
fliftt rdigious piioeiples were the sole laudable motives of 
aclMm. ^'Weou^tneitiier/'tbeysay, ''to reward firomgrA* 
titude, nor punish jCFom resentment ; we ought neither to 
ipoiect the helplossoess of our children, nor afford support 
to the infirmities of our parents, from natural affection. All 
affections for psftieialar objects ought to be extingnisfaed 
IB oar breast, and one gi*eat afieotion take the place of all 
otkerSythe loveof theDeitj, the desire of rendering ourselves 
agreeable to him, and of directing our conduct in evejj 
respect according to his will. We ought not to be grate- 
fid from gratttode, we ought not to be charitable from hu- 
joamty^ we ought not to be publicHipirited from the love of 
«ur eotintry, nor generous and just from the love of mankind. 
The sole princifde and motive of 4Hir oonduct in the perfbr* 
flsftnee of all those different duties, ouj^t to be a sense that 
<jrod has coBussoded us to perform tisiem.'' I ^mll not at 
present take time to examine this opinion particularly; I 
flfamll onlyohserve, that we should not have expected to have 
£NnMi it eatertained by any sect, who psofessed themselves 
•of a religioiL in whkh^ as it is the first precept to love the 
JLesfd oar Grod with all our heart, with all our soul, and with 
all our st pciigl h , so it is the eeeond to love our neighbour a^ 
we lome burs^es; and we love oturselves surely for our 
«rwii aakes, and not snevely because we are ^Dommanded to 


244 OP THE SENSE [part IH. 

do so. That the sense of duty should be the sole principle 
of our conduct, is nowhere the precept of Christianity ; but 
that it should be the ruling and the governing one, as phi- 
losophy, and as, indeed, common sense, directs. It may he 
a question, however, in what cases our actions ought to arise 
chiefly or entirely from a sense of duty, or from a regard to 
general rules ; and in what cases some other sentiment or 
affection ought to concur, and have a principal influence. 

The decision of this question, which cannot, perhaps, be 
given with any very great accuracy, will depend upon two 
different circumstances ; first, upon the natural agreeable- 
ness or deformity of the sentiment or affection which would 
prompt us to any action independent of all regard to general 
rules ; and, secondly, upon the precision and exactness, or 
the looseness and inaccuracy, of the general rules themseltes, 

i 

I. First, I say, it will depend upon the natural agreeable* 
ness or deformity of the affection itself, how far our actions 
ought to arise from it, or entirely proceed from a regard to 
the general rule. 

• 

AH those graceful and admired actions to which the be- 
nevolent affections would prompt us, ought to proceed as 
much from the passions themselves as from any regard to 
the general rules of conduct. A benefactor thinks him- 
self but ill requited if the person upon whom he has 
bestowed his good offices repays them merely from a .'cold 
sense of duty, and without any affection to his person. A 
husband is dissatisfied with the most obedient wife, when 
he imagines her conduct is animated by no other principle 
besides her regard to what the relation she stands in re- 
quires. Though a son should fail in none of the offices of 
filial duty, yet if he wants that affectionate reverence which 
it so well becomes him to feel, the parent may justly com- 
plain of his indifference. Nor could a son be quite satisfied 


CHAP. VI.J OP DUTY. 245 

witb a parent who, though he performed all the duties of his 
situation, had nothing of that fatherly fondness which might 
have been expected from him. With regard to all such 
benevolent and social affections, it is agreeable to see the 
sense of duty employed rather to restrain than to enliven 
them, rather to hinder us from doing too much, than to 
prompt us to do what we ought. It gives us pleasure to 
see a father obliged to check his own fondness, a friend, ob- 
liged to set bounds to his natural generosity, a person who 
has received a benefit, obliged to restrain the too sanguine 
gratitude of his own temper. 

< 
The contrary maxim takes place with regard to the ma- 
levolent and unsocial passions. We ought to reward from 
the gratitude and generosity of our own hearts, without any 
reluctance, and without being obliged to reflect how great 
the propriety of rewarding ; but we ought always to punish 
with reluctance, and more from a sense of the propriety of 
punishing than from any savage disposition to revenge. 
Nothing is more graceful than the behaviour of the man 
frho appears to resent the greatest injuries, more from a 
sense that they deserve, and are the proper objects of re- 
sentment, than from feeling himself the furies of that dis- 
agreeable passion ; who, like a judge, considers only the 
general rule, which determines what vengeance is due for 
each particular offence ; who, in executing that rule, feels 
less for what himself has suffered, than for what the offen- 
der is about to suffer ; who, though in wrath, remembers 
mercy, and is disposed to interpret the rule in the most 
gentle and favourable manner, and to allow all the allevia- 
tions which the most candid humanity could, consistently 
with good sense, admit of. 

As the selfish passions, according to what has formerly 
been observed, hold in other respects a sort of middle 
^lace between the social and unsocial affections, so do they 


246 OF THE SENSE [pAST BI. 

likewise in this. The pursuit of die objects of private in- 
terest, in all common, little,^ and ordinary cases, onglit to 
floTT rather from a regard to the general rules which pre- 
scribe such conduct, than from any passion for the objects 
themselves; bnt npon more important and extraordinary 
occasions, we shonld be awkward, insipid, and nngraceful, 
if the objects themselves did not appear to animate as with 
a considerable degree of passion. To be anxions, or to be 
laying a plot either to gain or to save a single shilling, 
would degrade the most vulgar tradesman in the opinion of 
all his neighbours. Let his circumstances be ever so mean, 
no attention to any such small matters, for the sake of the 
things themselves, must appear in his conduct. His situa- 
tion may require the most severe economy and the most 
exact assiduity : but each particular exertion of that eco- 
nomy and assiduity must proceed, not so much from a regard 
for that particular saving or gain, as for the general nde 
which to him prescribes, with the utmost rigour, such a 
tenor of conduct. His parsimony to-day must not arise 
from a desire of the particular threepence which he will 
save by it, nor his attendance in his shop from a passion for 
the particular tenpence which he will acquire by it : both 
the one and the other ought to proceed solely from a regard 
to the general rule, which prescribes, with the most unre- 
lenting severity, this plan of eonduct to all persons in his 
way of life. In this consists the difference between ibi 
character of a miser and that of a person of exact economy 
and assiduity. The one is anxious about small matters for 
their own sake ; the other attends to them only in conse- 
quence of the scheme of life which he has laid down to 
himself. 

It is quite otherwise with regard to the more extraordi- 
nary ^nd important objects of self-interest. A person ap- 
pears mean-spirited, who does not pursue these with some 
degree of earnestness for their own sake. We should d^ 


GBAP. VI.] OF DUTT. 247 

spise a prince who was not anxious about conqiiexiiLg or 
defending a proyince. We should have little respect fox 
a private gendemaa who did not exert himself to gain an 
estate, or even a considerable office, when he conld acquire 
them without either meanness or injustice. A member of 
Parliament who shews no keenness about his own election, 
ia abandoned by his Mends as altogether unworlhj of their 
attachment. Even a tradesman is thought a poor-spirited 
fellow among his neighbours, who does not bestir himself 
to get what they call an extraordinary job, or some uncom- 
mon advantage. This spirit and keenness constitutes the 
difference between the man of enterprise and the man of 
dull regularity. Those great objects of self-interest, of 
which the loss or acquisition quite changes the rank of the 
person, are the objects of the passion properly called ambi- 
tion ; a passion which, when it keeps within the bounds of 
prudence and justice, is always admired in the world, and 
has even sometimes a certain irregular greatness, which 
dazzles the imagination when it passes the limits of both 
l^se virtues, and is not only unjust but extravagant. 
Hence the general admiration for heroes and conquerors, 
and even for statesmen, whose projects have been very 
daring and extensive, though altogether devoid of justice ; 
such as those of the cardinals of Richelieu and of Retz. 
The objects of avarice and ambition differ only in their 
greatness. A miser is as furious about a halfpenny as a 
num of ambition about the conquest of a kmgdom. 

II. Secondly, I say it will depend partly upon the pre-^ 
cbion and exactness, or the looseness and inaccuracy of the^ 
general rules themselves, how fkr our conduct ought to pro-v 
ceed entirely from a regard to them. 

Tlie general rules of ahnok all the virtues, the gene-, 
ral rules which determine what are the offices of prudence^ 
of charity, of generosity, of gratitude, of friendship, am 


248 OF THE SENSE [PAST III. 

in many respects loose and inaccurate, admit of many ex- 
ceptions, and require so many modifications, that it is scarce 
possible to regulate, our conduct entirely by a regard to 
them. The common proverbial maxims of prudence, being 
founded in universal experience, are perhaps the best gene- 
ral rules which can be given about it. To affect, however, 
a very strict and literal adherence to them, would evidently 
be the most absurd and ridiculous pedantry. Of all the 
virtues I have just now mentioned, gratitude is that, per- 
haps, of which the rules are the most precise, and admit of. 
the fewest exceptions. That as soon as we can we should 
make a return of equal, and, if possible, of superior value 
to the services we have received, would seem to be a pretty 
plain rule, and one which admitted of scarce any exceptions. 
Upon the most superficial examination, however, this rule 
will appear to be in the highest degree loose and inaccurate, 
and to admit of ten thousand exceptions. If your bene- 
factor attended you in your sickness, ought you to attend 
him in his ? or can you fulfil the obligation of gratitude 
by making a return of a different kind ? If you ought to 
attend him, how long ought you to attend him ? The same 
time which he attended you, or longer, and how much 
longer ? If your friend lent you money in your distress, 
ought you to lend him money in his ? How much ought 
you to lend him ? When ought you to lend him ? Now, 
or to-morrow, or next month ? And for how long a time ? 
It is evident, that no general rule can be laid down by 
which a precise answer can, in all cases, be given to any 
of these questions. The difference between his character 
and yours, between his circumstances and yours, may be 
such, that you may be perfectly grateful, and justly refuse 
to lend him a halfpenny. :. and, on the contrary, you may be 
willing to lend, or even to give him ten times the sum which 
he lent you, and yet justly be accused of the blackest in- 
gratitude, and of not having fulfilled the hundredth part of 
the obligation you lie under. As the duties of gratitude, 


CHAP. VI.] OP DUTY. . 249 

however, are perhaps the most sacred of all those which 
the beneficent virtues prescribe to us, so the general rules 
which determine them are, as I said before, the most accu- 
rate. Those which ascertain the actions required hj friend- 
ship, humanity, hospitality, generosity, are still more vague 
and indeterminate. 

There is, however, one virtue, of which the general rules 
determine, with the greatest exactness, every external action 
which it requires. This virtue is Justice. The rules of 
justice are accurate in the highest degree, and admit of no 
exceptions or modifications but such as may be ascertain- 
ed as accurately as the rules themselves, and which gene- 
rally, indeed, flow from the very same principles with them. 
If I owe a man ten pounds, justice requires that I should 
precisely pay him ten pounds, either at the time agreed 
upon, or when he demands it. What I ought to perform, 
how much I ought to perform, when and where I ought to 
perform it, the whole nature and circumstances of the action 
prescribed, are all of them precisely fixed and determined. 
Though it may be awkward and pedantic, therefore, to 
affect too strict an adherence to the common rules of pru- 
dence or generosity, there is no pedantry in sticking fast 
by the rules of justice. On the contrary, the most sacred 
regard is due to them ; and the actions which this virtue 
requires are never so properly performed as when the chief 
motive for performing them is a reverential and religious 
regard to those general rules which require them. In the 
practice of the other virtues, our conduct should rather be 
directed by a certain idea of propriety, by a certain taste 
for a particular tenor of conduct, than by any regard to a 
precise maxim or rule ; and we should consider the end 
and foundation of the rule more than the rule itself. But 
it is otherwise with regard to justice : the man who in that 
refines the least, and adheres with the most obstinate sted- 
£eu3tness to the general rules themselves, is the most com- 


^50 OF THB 8BIIBE [PABTP HI. 

xnendable^ and the most to be depended upon. Thongk 
tiie end of the rules of justice be to hinder us from hurting 
our neighbour, it may frequently be a crime to violate them, 
though we eould pretend, with some pretext of reason, that 
this particular violation could do no hurt. A man often 
becomes a villain the moment he begins^ even in his own 
heart, to chicane in this manner. The moment he thinks 
of departing from tiie most staunch and positive adherence 
to what those inviolable precepts prescribe to him, he i» no 
longer to be trusted, and no man can say what degree of 
guilt he may not arrive at. The thief imagines he does no 
evil when he steals from the rich, what he si^poses they 
may easily want, and what possibly they may never even 
know has been stolen from them. The adulterer imagines 
he does no evil when he corrupts the wife of his fxiCTbd, 
provided he covers his intrigue from the suspicion of the 
husband, and does not disturb the peace of the family. 
When onee we begin to give way to such refinements, 
there is no enormity so gross of which we may not be 
oapaUe. 

The rules of justice may be compared io the rules of 
grammar ; the rules of the other virtues to the rules which 
critics lay down for the attainment of what is suMime and 
elegant in composition. The one are precise, aeourate, 
and indispensable. The other ate loose, vague, and in- 
determinate, and present us rather with a general idea of 
the perfection we ought to aim at, than afford us any cer- 
tain and infedlible directions for acquiring it A man may 
learn to write grammatically by rule, witii the moat abscdnte 
infallibility ; and so, perhaps, he may be taught to act justly. 
But there are no rules whose observance will infallibly lead 
U8 to tiie attainment of elegance or sublimity in writing: 
Plough there are some which may help us, in some mea- 
sure, to correct and ascertain the vague ideas whidi we 
might otherwise have entertained of those perfections. And 


CHAP. VrJ OfP DUTY. 351 

ftere are no rules by the knowledge of wMch W9 can in- 
faOiblj be taught to act upon all occa^ons with prudence^ 
with just magnanimity, or proper beneficence : &ou^ there 
are some which may enable us to correct and ascertain, in 
several respects, the imperfect ideas which we mig^t other- 
wise have entertained of those virtues. 

It may sometimes happen, that with the most serious 
and earnest desire of acting so as to deserve approbation, 
we may mistake the proper rules of conduct, and thus be 
misled by that very principle which ought to dhrect us. 
It is in vain to expect that in this case mankind should 
entirely approve of our behaviour. They cannot enter into 
that absurd idea of duty which influenced us, nor go along 
with any of the actions which follow from it. There is stOl, 
however, something respectable in the character and be- 
haviour of one who is thus betrayed into vice, by a wrong 
sense of duty, or by what is called an erroneous conscience. 
How fatally soever he may be misled by it, he is stOl, with 
the generous and humane, more the object oi commiseration 
than of hatred or resentment. They lament the weakness 
of human nature, which exposes us to such imhappy debt- 
nons, even while we are most sincerely labouring after 
perfection, and endeavouring to act according to the best 
principle which can possibly direct us. False notions of 
religion are almost the only causes which can occasion any 
very gross perversion of our natural sentiments in this 
way; and that principle which gives the greatest authority 
to the rules of duty, is alone capable of distorting our ideas 
of them in any considerable degree. In all other cases 
common sense is sufficient to direct us, if not to the most 
exquisite propriety of conduct, yet to something which is 
not very far from it ; and provided we are desirons in ear- 
nest to do well, our behaviour will always, upon the whdie, 
be praiseworthy. That to obey the will of the Deity is 
the first rule of duty, all men are agreed. But concerning 


252 OF THF. SENSE ' [pART in. 

the particular commandments wliich that will may impose 
upon' us, thej differ widely from one another. In this, 
therefore, the greatest mutual forbearance and toleration is 
due ; and though the defence of society requires that crimes 
should be punished, from whatever motives they proceed, 
yet a good man will always punish them with reluctance, 
when they evidently proceed from false notions of religious 
duty. He will never feel against those who commit them 
that indignation which he feels against other criminals, but 
will rather regret, and sometimes even admire, their unfor- 
tunate firmness and magnanimity, at the very time that he 
punishes their crime. In the tragedy of Mahomet, one of 
the finest of Mr Voltaire^s, it is well represented what 
ought to be our sentiments for crimes which proceed from 
such motives. In that tragedy, two young people of dif- 
ferent sexes, of the most innocent and virtuous dispositions, 
and without any other weakness except what endears them 
the more to us, a mutual fondness for one another, are in- 
stigated by the strongest motives of a false religion^ to 
commit a horrid murder, that shocks all the principles of 
human nature. A venerable old man, who had expressed 
the most tender affection for them both, for whom, notwith- 
standing he was the avowed enemy of their religion, they 
' had both conceived the highest reverence and esteem, and 
who was in reality their father, though they did not know 
him to be such, is pointed out to them as a sacrifice which 
God had expressly required at their hands, and they are 
commanded to kill him. While they are about executing 
this crime, they are tortured with all the agonies which can 
arise from the struggle between the idea of the indispen- 
sableness of religious duty on the one side, and compassion, 
gratitude, reverence for the age and love for the humanity 
and virtue of the person whom they are going to destroy, 
on the other. The representation of this exhibits one of 
the most interesting, and perhaps the most instmctivei 
spectacles that was ever introduced upon any theatre. The 


CHAP. VI.] OF DUTY. 253 

« 

sense of duty, however, at last prevails over all the amiable 
weaknesses of human nature. They execute the crime im- 
posed upon them; but immediately discover their error, 
and the fraud which had deceived them, and are distracted 
with horror, remorse, and resentment. Such as are our senti- 
ments for the unhappy Seid and Palmira, such ought we 
to feel for every person who is in this manner misled by 
religion, when we are sure that it is really religion that mis- 
leads him, and not the pretence of it, which is made a cover 
to some of the worst of human passions. 

As a person may act wrong by following a wrong sense 
of duty, so nature may sometimes prevail, and lead him to 
act right in opposition to it. We cannot in this case be 
displeased to see that motive prevail, which we think ought 
to prevail, though the person himself is so weak as to think 
otherwise. As his conduct, however, is the effect of weak- 
ness, not principle, we are far from bestowing upon it any 
thing that approaches to complete approbation. A bigotted 
Roman Catholic, who, during the massacre of St Bartholo- 
mew, had been so overcome by compassion, as to save some 
unhappy Protestants whom he thought it his duty to de- 
stroy, would not seem to be entitled to that high applause 
which we should have bestowed upon him, had he exerted 
the same generosity with complete self-approbation. We 
might be pleased with the humanity of his temper, but we 
should still regard him with a sort of pity, which is alto- 
gether inconsistent with the admiration that is due to per- 
fect virtue. It is the same case with all the other passions. 
We do not dislike to see them exert themselves properly, 
even when a false notion of duty would direct the person 
to restrain them. A very devout quaker, who upon being 
struck upon one cheek, instead of turning up the other, 
should so far forget his literal interpretation of our Saviour's 
precept, as to bestow some good discipline upon the brute 
that insulted him, would not be disagreeable to us. We 


254 OF the; sesbe of duty. [part izl 

(should lAaghf «nd be diverted with his spirit, and rather 
like him the better for it But we ahould bj no means re- 
gard him with ihaJt respect and esteem which would seem 
due to one who, upon a like occasion, had acted properly 
from a just sense of what was proper to be done. Noacties 
can properly be called virtuous, which is not aeoompanied 
with the «eiitim(ent of i^elf-approbatiofi. 


THE 


THEORY OF MORAL SENTIMENTS. 


yart ^0itrt||. 


OF THE EFFECT OF UTILITY UPON THE 
SESTIMENT OF APPROBATION. 

ooxsisiixa OF oKB saoioa. 


CHAPTER I. 

Qf^ Beaaty which the Appearance of UUUty bestows t^Mm 
aU the Productions of Arty and of the extensive Influence of 
this Species of Beauttf. 

That utility is one of the principal sources of beauty, has 
l>een observed by every body who has considered with any 
attention what constitutes the nature of beauty. The con- 
veniency of a house gives pleasure to the spectator as well 
as its regularity ; and he is as much hurt when he observes 
the contrary defect, as when he sees the correspondent win- 
dows of different forms, or the door not placed exactly in 
the middle of the building. That the fitness of any system 
or machine to produce the end for which it was intended, 
bestows a certain propriety and beauty upon the whole, and 
renders the very thought and contemplation of it agreeabloi 
18 so very obvious, that nobody has overlooked it. 

The cause, too, why utility pleases, has of late been assigned 
by an ingenious and agreeable philosopher, who joins the 
greatest depth of thought to the greatest elegance of expres- 
sion, and possesses the singular and happy talent of treating 
the abstrusest subjects not only with the most perfect per- 
spicuity but with the most lively eloquence. The utility 
of any object, according to him, pleases the master by per- 
petually suggesting to him the pleasure or conveniency 
which it is fitted to promote. Every time he looks at it, 
lie is put in mind of this pleasure ; and the object in this 
manner becomes a source of perpetual satisfaction and en- 
joyment. The spectator enters by sympathy into the sen-* 
timents of the master, and necessarily views the object 

8 


258 THE EFFECT [PAKT IT. 

under the same agreeable aspect. When we visit the pa- 
laces of the great, we cannot help conceiving the satisfaction 
we should enjoy if we ourselves were the masters, and were 
possessed of so much artful and ingenuously contrived ac- 
commodation. A simikr aooouitt is 'given why the appear- 
ance of inconveniency should render any object disagree- 
able both to the jemmer and .to the speetotcuB. 

But that this fitness, this happy conlrivanGe of any pro- 
duction of art, should often be more valued than the very 
end for which it was^ritended^ and -that tbe eiuict adjvBt- 
ment of theineHBg for attaining any conveniency or pleasuxs 
should frequently be>meare<iegarded than thatt very c<Hive- 
niency or pleasuxe, in the i^;taiament of which 1h^ mhok 
merit would seem to consist, has not, 'so far as I know, bess 
yet taken notice of by any body. That ^is^ bowever, if 
▼ery frequenlily the case, -may be observed in a theusaod 
instances, both in ihe most frivolous and in Ihe -most .i^)po^ 
taut conGenis -of hnmsa Hfe. 

When a. person comes into (his chamber and ^finds ths 
chairs all standing in 4he middle of the roem, the is angrj 
with his servant, and rather than see them continue in that 
disorder, perhaps takes the trouble himself to set them all 
in their places with their badks to the walL The whols 
propriety of this «new situation arises horn its superior coa* 
"veniency in leaving the ifloor free and disengaged. To at* 
tain this conveniency he vdnntarily puts himself to moie 
trouble than aU he conld imve suffered fromi &e want of it; 
since notfamg was more easy than to have set hiooself dowa 
upon one of them, which is probably what he does whea 
Ms labour is over. What he wanted therefore, it ssemiy 
•was not so much this conveniency, as that arrangement d 
things which promotes it. ¥et it is this convenienoy whicb 
%uhimately TQcommends that arrangement, and biestows apon 
it the whole ef its propriety and beauty. 


CSAP. I. J OF UTILITY^ £59 

A watcb, in the same manner, that falls behind abov« 
two minutes in a day, is despised by one curious in watches. 
He sells it perhaps for a couple of guineas, and pur* 
chases another at fifty, which will not lose above a minute 
in a fortnight. The sole luse of watches, however, is to 
tell us what o'clock it is, and to hinder us from breaking 
asy engagement, or sufifering any other ineonveniency bj 
our ignorance in that particular point. But the person so 
nice with regard to this machine will not always be found 
either more scrupulously punctual than other men, or .more 
-anxiously concerned upon any other account to know .pre- 
cisely what time of -day it is. W^at interests him is not . so 
much the attainment. of this piece of knowledge, as Aeperr 
fection of the machine which serves to attain it. 

Slow many people ruin ihemselires byla3ring out money 
on trinkets of frivolous utility? What pleases these lovers 
of tc^s, is;not SiO much the utility as the aptness of the ma^ 
ehines which are .fitted to ^promote it. All their pockets axe 
stuffed with little conveniencies. They contrive new poeket% 
unknovini in the clothes of other people, in order to canyrA 
greater number. They walk about loiaded with a multitude 
of baubles, in weight, and sometimes in value, not inferior 
to an ordinary Jew-s-box, some of whi<ih may sometimes be 
of some little use, but «11 vof which might at all times be 
very well spared, and of which the whole utility i& certednly 
met worth the fatigue of bearing the burden. 

I^or -is it only with regard to «u<ih frivolous objeci^:that 
our conduct is influenced by this principle.; it is often the 
secret motive of the most serious and important pursuits of 
both private and public Hfe. 

The poor man^s son, whom > heaven in its anger has visit* 
ed with ambition, when he begins to look .around him,jad^ 
xmres tlm condition of the rich. He finds the cottage iif his 


^w^mami 


260 THE EFFECT [PART IV. 

fathertoo small for his accommodation, and fancies he should 
be lodged more at his ease in a palace. He is displeased 
with being obliged to walk afoot, or to endure the fatigae 
of riding on horseback. He sees his superiors carried about 
in machines, and imagines that in one of these he could tra- 
vel with less inconveniency. He feels himself naturallj 
indolent, and willing to serve himself with his own handi 
as little as possible; and judges that a numerous retinae 
of servants would save him from a great deal of trouble. 
He thinks if he had attained all these, he would sit still con- 
tentedly, and be quiet, enjoying himself in the thought of 
the happiness and tranquillity of his situation. He is enchant- 
ed witii the distant idea of this felicity. It appears in his 
fancy like the life of some superior rank of beings, and, in 
order to arrive at it, he devotes himself for ever to the par- 
suit of wealth and greatness. To obtain the convenienciei 
which these afford, he submits in the first year, nay, in the 
first month ofhis appli cation, to more fiatigue of body and 
more uneasiness of mind, than he could have suffered 
through the whole of his life from the want of th6m. He 
studies to distinguish himself in some laborious profession. 
With the most unrelenting industry he labours night and 
day to acquire talents superior to all his competitors. He 
endeavours next to bring those talents into public view, and 
with eq-ual assiduity solicits every opportunity of employ* 
ment. For this purpose he makes his court to all mankind; 
he serves those whom he hates, and is obsequious to thoee 
whom he despises. Through the whole of his life he pin> 
sues the idea of a certain artificial and elegant repose which 
he may never arrive at, for which he sacrifices a real tran* 
quillity that is at all times in his power, and which, if in the 
extremity of old age he should at last attain to it, he will 
find to be in no respect preferable to that humble secnrity 
and contentment which he had abandoned for it» It is then, 
in the last dregs of life, his body wasted with toil and die- 
eases, his mind galled and rufided by the memory of a thoo*^ 


WJ P J J B LJI^I P^—^ WJ ■ ■ ■ — U- . 


C^BAP. li] OF UTILITY. Sfii 

sand injuries and diistappointmentB which he imagines he has 
met with from the injustice of his enemies, or from the per* 
fidy and ingratitude of his friends,. that he hegins at last to 
find that wealth and greatness are mere trinkets of firivolous 
utility, no more adapted for procuring ease of body or tran- 
quillity of mindy than the tweezer-cases of the lover of toys; 
and like them, too, more troublesome to the person who car* 
lies them about with him than all the advantages they can 
afford him are commodious. There is no other real difference 
between them, except that the conveniencies of the one are 
somewhat more observable than those of the other. The 
palaces, the gardens, the equipage, the retinue of the great, 
are object of which the obvious conveniency strikes every 
body. They do not require that their masters shoidd point 
out to us wherein consists their utility. Of our own accord 
we readily enter into it, and by sjnnpathy enjoy, and there- 
by applaud the satisfaction which they are fitted to afford 
him. But the curiosity of a toothpick^ of an earpicker, of 
a machine for cutting the nails, or of any other trinket of 
the same kind, is not so obvious. Their conveniency may 
perhaps be equally great, but it is not so striking, and 
we do not. so readily enter into the satisfiiction of the man 
who possesses them. They are therefore less reasonable 
flubjects of vanity than the magnificence of wealth and 
greatness ; and in this consists the sole advantage of these 
last They more ^ectually gratify that love of distinction 
so natural to man. To one who was to live alone in a de- 
solate island, it might be a matter of doubt perhaps, whe- 
ther a palace, or a collection of such small conveniencies as 
are commonly contained in a tweezer-case, would contribute 
most to his happiness and enjoyment. If he is to live in 
society, indeed, there can be no comparison, because in this, 
as in all other cases, we constanUy pay more regard to the 
sentiments of the spectator than to those of the person prin- 
cipally concerned^ and consider rather how his situation 
will appear to other people than how it will appear to him- 


3M TBET EFFBCT [PAKT PR 

Mlf.s M WB exsminev howe^ei^ wby llie qwoHttor* distiir- 
gmBbeB with wack' admimtion: the condition of the rich and 
Atf great, we shall find that it is not so much npon* account 
af the superior ease or pleasure whieh l^ey ave supposed to 
6B507J as of the numberless artificial' and ^egant contri- 
yairaes far pmmoting this ease or pleaeure. He does not 
enwnr iraagme that they ase really happier titan oiiber 
people ; hut he hnagines th«it th^ possess- more means ei 
happiflttss.. And! it is the ingenious and* artfol adjustment 
•f thoser mems to the end for which tiiey*w«i« intended, 
iiialf is. the principal source of his admiiution. But in the 
lan^our of disease and the weariness of old age, the plea* 
snresof tiie vain and empty distinctions of greaitness disap- 
pear. To one in this' situation they are no longer capable 
of recommending' those toilsome pursuits in which they had 
fbnnerly engaged him« I^ his heart he curses ambition^ 
imi vaiidy r^ets^ the 6Ease and lile indolence of youth, plea- 
Stur^s which are fied fer ever, and which he has foolishly 
nacrifieed foxr what, when^ he has got it, can afford* him no 
2eal satisfaetios^ Jxt: ibis miserable aspect does greatness ap- 
itsar to eii^eiy mgrn when redueed, eithea by spleen or disease^ 
to observe with atten4non his own si4iualSon, and to- consider 
what it i^that is really wanting to his' happiness. Power 
and riches appear* then to^be^ what they are, enonnous and 
<iq»erose machines contrived- to produee a few trifling' eoa- 
TQuiencies toliie body, consisting of springs the most nice 
Mid delicate^ which* must be kept in^ order widi the most 
Mixious^ attention, and which, in spite of all our care, are 
fleady every moment to burst into pieees-, and to crush in their 
ffuins their unfortunate possessor. They are immense fabrics 
which it requires iSie labour of a life to raise, which threaten 
Qvery moment to overwhelm t^e person that dwells in them, 
imd which, while they stand, though they may save him 
from some snndler inconveniencies, can protect him from 
Mone of thS' severer inclemencies- of the season. They keep 
off lAie summer shower, not 1^' winter storm, but leave him 


0H&P. I.] OF unLiTr. 998 

always as much, and sometimes more, exposed than befoxe 
to anxiety, to fear, and to sorrow ; to diseases, to danger, 
and to death. 

- Btit though this splenetic philosophy, which in time of 
sickness or low spirks is familiar to every man, thus entirely 
^preciates those great objects of human desire, when in 
Better health and in better humour, we never fail to regard 
ftem- under a more agreeable stspe^t Our imagination, 
which in pain and sorrow seems to* be confined and cooped 
up within our own persons, in tunes of ease and prosperity! 
expands itself to every thingi around us. We are then 
diarmed- with the beanity of that aoconnnodation which reigns 
in* the palaces and economy of the great ; and admire how 
every thing is adapted to promote their ease,, to prevent 
Ibeir wants^ to gratify* their wishes, and to amuse and en^ 
t^rtaih ^eir most frivolous desii^s. l£ w« consider the real 
satisfaction which i^ these things are eapablb of affording, 
By itself and separated from the beauty of that arrangement 
wJhich is fitted to promote it^ it will always appear in. the 
Highest diegree contemptible and trifling. But we rarelj? 
view it in diis abstract and philosophical light. We natoi^ 
rally confound it in our imagination with the order^ the re^ 
gular and harmonious movement of the system, the machine 
or economy by means of which it is- produced. The plea> 
gures of wealth fmd greatness, when, considered in this com*- 
p]i9x view, strike the imagination as something gmnd, and 
beautiful, and nobte, of which the aittainment is well worth 
ril the toil and anxiety which we are so apt to bestow 
upon it. 

And it is weS that nature imposes upon us in this mannen* 
It is this deception which rouses and keeps in continual mo>* 
lion the industry of mankind. It is this which first prompt^ 
ed' tiiem to cultivate the ground, to build houses, to< foun4 
cities and commonwealths, and toinioent and impDOve: all ths 


864 THE EFFECT [PART. IT. 

sciences and arts, which ennoble and embellish humaa life; 
which have entirely changed the whole face of the globe, 
have turned the rude forests of nature into agreeable and 
fertile plains, and made the trackless and barren ocean a 
new fund of subsistence, and the great high road of com- 
munication to the different nations of the earth. The earth, 
by these labours of mankind, has been obliged to redonble 
her natural fertility, and to maintain a greater multitude of 
inhabitants. It is to no purpose that the proud and unfeeling 
landlord views his extensive fields, and without a though 
for the wants of his brethren, in imagination consumes him* 
self the whole harvest that grows upon them. The homely 
and vulgar proverb, that the eye is larger than the belly, 
never was more fully verified than with regard to him. 
The capacity of his stomach bears no proportion to the im- 
mensity of his desires, and will receive no more than that 
of the meanest peasant. The rest he is obliged to distri- 
bute among those who prepare, in the nicest manner, that 
little which he himself makes use of, among those who fit 
up the palace in which this little is to be consumed, among 
those who provide and keep in order all the different baubles 
and trinkets which are employed in the economy of great- 
ness ; all of whom thus derive from his luxury and caprice 
that share of the necessaries of life which they would in. 
vain have expected from his humanity or his justice. Tha 
produce of the soil maintains at all times nearly that num- 
ber of inhabitants which it is capable of maintaining. Tha 
rich only select from the heap what is most precious and 
agreeable. They consume little more than the poor ; and in 
spit^ of their natural selfishness and rapacity, though they 
mean only their own conveniency, though the sole end which 
they propose from the laboura of all the thousands whom 
they employ be the gratification of their own vain and in- 
satiable desires, they divide with the poor the produce of 
all their improvements. They are led by an invisible hand 
to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of 


CHAP I.] OP UTILITY. 20&, 

life which would have been made had the earth been di- 
vided into equal portions among all its inhabitants ; and 
tiius, without intending it, without knowing it, advance the 
interest of the society, and afford means to the multiplica- 
tion of the species. When providence divided the earth 
among a few lordly masters, it neither forgot nor abandoned' 
those who seemed to have been left out in the partition. 
These last, too, enjoy their share of all that it produces. In- 
what constitutes the real happiness of human life, they are 
in no respect inferior to those who would seem so much 
above them. In ease of body and peace of mind, all the 
different ranks of life are nearly upon a level, and the beg- 
gar, who suns himself by the side of the highway, possesses 
ih&t security which kings are fighting for. 

The same principle, the same love of system, the same 
regard to the beauty of order, of art and contrivance, fre- 
quently serves to recommend those institutions which tend 
to promote the public welfare. When a patriot exerts him- 
self for the improvement of any part of the public police, 
his conduct does not always arise from pure sympathy with 
the happiness of those who are to reap the benefit of 
it- It is not commonly from a fellow-feeling with carriers 
and waggoners that a public-spirited man encourages the 
mending of high roads. When the Legislature establishes 
premiums and other encouragements to advance the linen 
or wooUen manufactures, its conduct seldom proceeds from 
pure sympathy with the wearer of cheap or fine cloth, and 
much less from that with the manufacturer or merchant. 
The perfection of police, the extension of trade and manu- 
£BMstures, are noble and magnificent objects. The contem- 
plation of them pleases us, and we are interested in what- 
ever can tend to advance them. They make part of the 
great system of government,, and the wheels of the politi- 
cal machine seem to move with more harmony and ease by 
means of them. We take pleasure in beholding the per* 


906 TBE EFFECT [PABTIY. 

feJBtion of so beautiful and so grand a system, and we are 
uneasy* tiH we- remove any obstruction that can in the least 
disturb or encumber the regularity of its motions. All 
oonstitatHms: of government, however, are valued only in 
proportion as they tend to promote the happiness of those* 
who live under them* This is their sole use and end. 
From su ceitain. spirit of system, however, from a certain 
love of art and- oontricvance, we sometimes seem to value 
the means more than the end^ and- to be eager to promote 
tbd happiness of our f^liow-CFoatures, rather from a view* 
to perfect and improve » certain beautiful and orderly 
system than from any immediate sense or feeling of what 
they ekker suffer or enjoy. There h»ve been men of the 
greatest public spirit, who have shewn themselves in other 
respects not very sensible to the feelings of humanity. 
And^ OB the contrary, there have been men of the greatest 
humanity^ who seem to have been entirely diBvoid of public 
q>irit. £very man may find in the circle of his acquain- 
tance instances both of the one kind and the other. Who 
had. ever less humanity or more public spirit than the 
celebrated- legislator of Muscovy ? The social and well-na- 
tured James the First of Great Britain- seems, on the con- 
trary, to have had scarce any passion, either for the gloiy 
or the iDtereat of his country. Would you awaken the in^ 
dustry of the man who seems almost dead to ambition, it 
will ofben be to no purpose to describe to him the happi- 
ness of the rich and the great ; to tell him that IJhey are 
generally sheltered from the sun and the rain, that they are 
seldom hungry, that they are seldom cold, and that they 
are rarely exposed to weariness, or to want of any kind. 
The most eloquent exhortation of this kind wiU have 
litde efifect upon . him. If you would hope to succeed, 
you must desovibe to him. the conveniency and* arrange* 
ment. o£ liie dififeveht apartments in their palaces; yoic 
must 03^Iain toi him the propriety of their equipages, and* 
point out to Uim. the number, the ord^sr, and the difiercml^ 


ti.J avunsiTY. 26T 


ctffice» ef all theb- attencbntB; ]^ aii]^ tiling is> capable of 
making impmssion upoicHiiB, liiis willl Yet all these things 
tend, only to keepo^B tBe son and the rain, to Ba^ethem 
&QIII; hunger and coLoL^ frionr "Prant and weariness. In the 
same manner, if you would implant public virtue in liie 
breast of him who seems heedless of the interest of his 
country, it will often be to no purpose to tell him what 
superior advantages the subjects of a well-governed state 
enjoy ; that they are better lodged, that they are better 
clothed, that they are better fed. These considerations will 
commonly make no great impression. You will be more 
likely to persuade, if you describe the great system of 
public police which procures these advantages, — if you ex- 
plain the connections and dependencies of its several parts, 
their mutual subordination to one another, and their general 
subserviency to the happiness of the society ; if you shew 
how this system might be introduced into his own country, 
what it is that hinders it from taking place there at present, 
bow those obstructions might be removed, and all the 
several wheels of the machine of government be made to 
move with more harmony and smoothness, without grating 
upon one another, or mutually retarding one another's 
motions. It is scarce possrble that a man should listen to 
a discourse of this kind, and not feel himself animated to 
some degree of public spirit. He will, at least for the mo- 
ment, feel some desire to remove those obstructions, and to 
put into motion so beautiful and so orderly a machine. 
Nothing tends so much to promote public spirit as the study 
of politics, — of the several systems of civil government, their 
advantages and disadvantages, — of the constitution of our 
own country, its situation, and interest with regard to foreign 
nations, its commerce, its defence, the disadvantages it 
labours under, the dangers to which it may be exposed, 
how to remove the one, and how to guard against the other. 
Upon this account political disquisitions, if just, and reason- 
able, and practicable, are of all the works of speculation the 


968 THE EFFECT [pAKT TV* 

most useful. Even the weakest and the worst of them are 
not altogether without their utility. They serve at least 
to animate the public passions of men, and rouse ihem 
to seek out the means of promoting the happiness of the so* 
dety. 


CHAP. H.] OF UTILITT« 269 


CHAPTER II. 

. Of the Beauty which the appearance of UtUiiy bestows upon 
the Characters and Actions of Men ; and how far the Per- 
ception of this Beauty may he regarded as one of the origin 
ncd Principles of approbation. 

The characters of men, as well as the contrivances of 
art, or the institutions of civil government, may be fitted 
either to promote or to disturb the happiness both of the 
individual and of the society. The prudent, the equitable, 
the active, resolute, and sober character promises prosperity 
and satisfaction, both to the person himself and to every 
one connected with him. The rash, the insolent^ the sloth- 
ful, effeminate, and voluptuous, on the contrary, forebodes 
ruin to the individual, and misfortune to all who have 
any thing to do with him. The first turn of mind has at 
least all the beauty which can belong to the most perfect 
machine that was ever invented for promoting the most 
agreeable purpose : and the second, all the deformity of the 
most awkward and clumsy^ contrivance. What institution 
of government could tend so much to promote the hjkppi- 
ness of mankind as the general prevalence of wisdom and 
virtue ? All government is but an imperfect remedy for the 
deficiency of these. "Whatever beauty, therefore, can be- 
long to civil government upon account of its utility, must 
in a far superior degree belong to these. On the contrary, 
what civil policy can be so ruinaus and destructive as the 
vices of men ? The fatal effects of bad government arise from 
nothing, but that it does not sufficiently guard against the 
mischiefs which human wickedness gives occasion to. 

This beauty and deformity which characters appear to 
derive from their usefulness or inconveniency, are apt to 


STO TBE ;EFf!EOT J PilBT JV» 

strike in a peculiar manner those who consider, in an ab- 
stract and philosophical light, the actions and conduct of 
mankind. When a philosopher goes to examine why hu- 
manity is approved df or cruelty condemned, he docs not 
always form to himself, in a very clear 4md distinct man 
ner, the conception of any one particular action either of 
cruelty or of humanity, but is commonly .contented with 
the vague and indeterminate idea which the general names 
of those qualities suggest to him. Eut it is in particular 
instances only thitt the )prQp]dfity(ikr'impr0piidty,ilie merit 
or demerit, of aotione is very r obvious and difioernible. It is 
only when tpastioular ^xazqpLafi are given ^that <we ^raeive 
distinctly ei&er the -fionQOfd or disagnaamei^ -between our 
owniftfiectiaas^and those ofithfi 4^iiX, orisda.fiocial gratir 
tude^arise .towards rhim .in the one tease, or a aympathetifi 
resentment ; in :the otbar . Whdn we ieansider virtue (and vioe 
in an abstract raad geaeral manner, tthe qualities hy whioh 
they exoite ihesets&vemltsentiments seemiuagFeaA oMeasaie 
to disappear, 'and the «entim«nts thensidves .becoms less 
obvious rand diseemibk. ^On : the eontrai^, :the haj^py <e&cts 
of the one, and .the fatal eonsequenoes of .the other, seem 
then to rise up to the tview, and, > as fit were, to stand out 
and distinguish themselves irom aU the ^her qualities of 
either. 

The same ingenious iaad agreeable etttii<Mr who first esi- 
plained why utility <pk£»es, has been so struck with this 
view of things, as to resolve our whole.appxobation of virtua 
into a peroeption of this speoies of beauty <whiAh results 
from the appearance of utility. No qualitieis^of tthe miacli 
he observes, are approved of as virtuofos, but .-suoh .as axe 
useful or agreeable either to thB person himself or fto otiieia^ 
and no qualities are disapproved of as vicious, but Hsuohas 
have a contrary tendency. And Nature, indeed, seems to 
have so happily adjusted our sentiments of approbation and 
disapprobation, to the convenieneor bo4h of (the .individufll 


CSAP. II.] oflpiuTiErrar. ^11 

and of the sodety, that aftei* the fitrictest e^ftmiTMticn it will 
be found, I believe, diat ihis is uniyersally Ihe case. But 
still I aflSrm, that it is not the view of this utility or hurt- 
Iblness which is either the first or principal source of our 
approbation and disa^jporobation. These sentiments lare, no 
doubt, enhanced and ^enlivened by the perception of the 
beauty or deformity which results from iSiis utiHty or hurt- 
.fiilness. .But still, I say, they ace -originaltyjindteaBentially 
different from thifi perception. 

For, first >of -all, lit . seems limpossible liiat (the i approbstioii 
of virtue should be a flentiment of ^e some kind with that 
by which we approve of a oaavenient and wwlloecNitFived 
fbailding ; or, that we should 'luuve no otiior msason for 
praising a man tiiaa thtftfor ^pdiich nmBtcommend a<ehe8t of 

And, seoendly,.it will be found uponezaminaticm, .timt 
the usefulness of any disposition of mind is seldom the.-fisitt 
ground of our approbation ; and that the sentiment of ap- 
probation always involves in it a sense of 'prepriety qtdte 
distinet firom .the perception of utility. >!^e may ^observe 
ihis with f regard to all the 'qualities which 4ae approved of 
ae 'virtuous, both those which, according to this i^dtem, axe 
joHginally valued as useful to ourselves,. as well as those 
which aiae esteismed on aeeount ^jof their -xisefnlness te 
otheiB. 

The qualities most useful ito :miFielves are, £Blt of aU^ 
superior reason and understanding, by 'whidh we are capabk 
of discerning the remote eonsequences of all oiir actioiis, 
and of foreseeing the advantage or detriment -whiohis likely 
to result from them ; gnd,>aeeqn^y,Helf-comniHnd, i^y whidi 
we are enabled to abstain from:pTeseiit pleasmeoxnta endure 
present I pain, -in order to obtain a greater 'j^easoie onto avoid 
a greater pain 'in Boioe iutuxe time. In the^umoaujf dioee 


■ 272 THE EFFECT [PABT IV. 

two qualities consists the virtue of prudence, of all the 
virtues that which is most useful to the individual. 

With regard to the first of those qualities, it has heen 
observed on a former occasion, that superior reason and 
understanding are originally approved of as just, and right, 
and accurate, and not merely as useful or advantageous. 
It is in the abstruser sciences, particularly in the higher 
parts of mathematics, that the greatest and most admired 
exertions of human reason have been displayed. But the 
utility of those sciences, either to the individual or to the 
public, is not very obvious, and to prove it, requires a 
discussion which is not always very easily comprehended. 
It was not, therefore, their utility which first recommended 
them to the public admiration. This quality was but little 
insisted upon, till it became necessary to make some reply 
to the reproaches of those, who, having themselves no 
-taste for such sublime discoveries, endeavour to depreciate 
ihem as useless. 

That self-command, in the same manner, by which we 
restrain our present appetites, in order to gratify them 
anore fuUy upon another occasion, is approved of as much 
wider the aspect of propriety as under that of utility. 
When we act in this manner, the sentiments which in- 
fiuence our conduct seem exactly to coincide with those 
of the spectator. The spectator does not feel the solicita- 
tions of our present appetites. To him the pleasure which 
we are to enjoy a week hence, or a year hence, is just as 
interesting as that which we are to enjoy this moment 
When for the sake of the present, therefore, we sacrifice the 
future, our conduct appears to him absurd and extravagant 
in the highest degree, and he cannot enter into the principles 
which influence it. On the contrary, when we abstain from 
present pleasure, in order to secure greater pleasure to come; 
nrhen we act as if the remote object interested us as much 


CHAP. n. OP uTniTT. 273 

as that which immediately presses upon the senses, as our 
affections exactly correspond with his own, he catinot fail 
to approve of our behaviour ; and as he knows from ex- 
perience how few are capable of this self-command, he 
looks upon our conduct with a considerable degree of 
wonder and admiration. Hence arises that eminent esteem 
with which all men naturally regard a steady perfeverance 
in the practice of frugality, industry, and application, though 
directed to no other purpose than the acquisition of fortune. 
The resolute firmness of the person who acts in this manner, 
and in order to obtain a great though remote advantage, not 
only gives up all present pleasures, but endures the greatest 
labour both of mind and body, necessarily commands our 
approbation. That view of his interest and happiness which 
appears to regulate his conduct, exactly tallies with the idea 
which we naturally form of it. There is the most perfect 
correspondence between his sentiments and our own, and 
at the same time, from our experience of the common weak- 
ness of human nature, it is a correspondence which we could 
not reasonably have expected. We not only approve, there- 
fore, but in some measure admire his conduct, and think it 
worthy of a considerable degree of applause. It is the con- 
flcioi^ness of this merited approbation and esteem which is 
alone capable of supporting the agent in this tenor of con- 
dnct. The pleasure which we are to enjoy ten years hence 
interests us so little in comparison with tiiat which we may 
enjoy to-day ; the passion which the first excites is naturally 
so weak in comparison with that violent emotion which the 
second is apt to give occasion to, that the one could never 
be any balance to the other, unless it was supported by the 
sense of propriety, by the consciousness that we merited the 
esteem and approbation of every body by acting in the one 
way, and that we became the proper objects of their con- 
tempt and derision by behaving in the other. 

Humanity, justice, generosity, and public spirit, are llie 

T 


374 TJOB^BiTXcir [rakizt. 

gaalities MOfli qmM to otii«fflr» Whtrthit cmrnsiM ibe pro* 
pnet7 ol humainlrf aaioi j«stico kas becut explaaaed npon a 
former occasioSy -vrfaerv it was shewn llow Brack our esteev 
and approbtttiow of those' qualities depended upon the eo»- 
cord between tke aieetioiis of tiie agest and those of tlw 
speetatorB. 

' The pfoptiety <^ gutematy and public spint i» fomdei 
upon the same principle with that of ja«tiee« GeBeiosilj' 
ie different fr(wi hunmnity. Those two qnalftieay. which al 
first sight seem so neavly allied, do not aiwaysrbdkmg to tht 
same person. Himiaoiitjr is ike yirtue of a wofnaor^ geaa^ 
rositj of a man. The fine sex, who hare commonly mvch 
more tenderness than onss^ benre seldom a^nach gsnerosk^ 
That women rarely make considerabk douatieBB b as e^ 
serration of the civil l»w.* • Hamanity eosMdate merely n 
iher exqtrisite fellow-feelmg which tiie wptciu^but e n t wrte ia i 
with 1^ sentimenlB of iim pevsoas prmcipaUry coacemed, le 
as to griere fer tiieir sttferin^ to resent their iigaaea^ aai 
to rejoice at their good fbilrane*. The most hmaaae actioas 
require' no self^enkd, so self'CoinmaBdy no great exertion of 
the sense of propriety. They consist only m d<HBg what tfaii 
exquisite sympathy would of iti own accord piompt ns to ^ 
^t it i« otherwise with generosity.. We never ore geneiMi 
except when in some respeet we prefer some odier person to 
onrselves, and saerifiee some gre«t and iniportajntintsrastef 
onr own- to an eqnal intevest of a friend or of a. supericc Tht 
mun who giT«s up his preteuions to an. office that was th« 
great object of his ambition, becanse he unagines that the 
services of another are better entitled to it ; the man whs 
exposes his life to defend that of his friend, whodi he jndgei 
to be of more importaoee, neither of tbem act from hnmmuly, 
or because they feel more exquisitely what concens that 
other person thmi what coneeflui thcmdiriiinas.. They both 

^ Sa<»iiuififlNB doave 


CHAP, n.} 09 WTSLITT. 275 

QOBsider tb<CMS« oppoaite inteFeatSy not ki &e Hght in which 
ikey natyjrally iqppeai to themai^Yffi, but in. that in whioh 
ihej appear to ckthero. Ta everj hjstanddf, the suecest 
or preservatioa of this other p^raoA mi&j jnaZ&y be midit 
interesting than their own ; ]^ it eaimot be sor to thesa* 
selves.. Whea ta the interest df this other persco, there^ 
fore^ ikey safisifioe th^ own, they aecosonodaie themselves 
to the aentiBiests of the; speotetcs, and l^ aoi e&rt el naaf^ 
maoimitj ad wxxx^g i^ those vkirs of things whach thej 
feel DiHst natiirftUy oeeux ta anj third person. The soldief 
who iduMMVB smajF Us^ li£& in ordet ta defend thai of his officer^ 
IKHild perha{Ni be but little a&eted hf the death of thai; 
officer if it ahonld happen withont amy fisuilt of his own; 
and a veij snail disaster whiisfa had befaUen himself might 
eatcite a WMcb move lively soirow. But when he aidea- 
'TOUTS to act 8& as ta deserrs afphmaty and to make the imr 
partial speetator enter isitO' the prineiples of his eonduet, he 
feela <^t to ^%tj body but himself ha» ewn life is a trifle 
eompared with that of his efiwer^ and that when he sacrt- 
fices the <me tetiiecihefy hi^aeta^uibs properly and agreeably 
to wha^ would be the iMrluxal appreh«nittOBtt of e^F^ry imparr 
tial bystaodor. 

It is tibe same ease with tbe greater exeftion^ of publie 
nfint When a young office esposea his life to acquire 
aome. inooosideral^ addilaoii to tbs dominions of his sove- 
r^gn, it is not beeaose the acquisition of the new territory 
is to himself an objiect more desiraUe than the preservation 
of his own life. To him his own life is of infinitely more 
yalne than the conquest of a whole kingdom for the state 
which he serves. But when he compares those two objects 
with one anoth^, he does not view them in the light in which 
they naturally appear to himself, but m that in which they 
appear to the nation he fights for. To them the success of 
the war is of the highest importance — ^the life of a private 
person of seafee any eonsequen^ew Wht^^ puts himself in 


276 THE EFFECT 


[part it. 


their situation, he immediately feels that he cannot be too 
prodigal of his blood, if by shedding it he can promote so 
valuable a purpose. In thus thwarting, from a sense of duty 
and propriety, the strongest of all natural propensities, con- 
sists the heroism of his conduct. There is many an honest 
Englishman, who in his private station would be more 
seriously disturbed by the loss of a guinea than by the na- 
tional loss of Minorca, who yet, had it been in his power to 
defend that fortress, would have sacrificed his life a thousand 
times rather than, through his fault, have let it fall into the 
hands of the enemy. When the first Brutus led forth his 
own sons to a capital punishment, because they had con- 
spired against the rising liberty of Rome, he sacrificed what, 
if he had consulted his own breast only, would appear to be 
the stronger to the weaker affection. Brutus ought naturally 
to have felt much more for the death of his own sons than 
for all that probably Rome could have suffered from the want 
of so great an example. But he viewed them, not with the 
eyes of a father, but with those of a Roman citizen. He 
entered so thoroughly into the sentiments of this last charac- 
ter, that he paid no regard to that tie by which he himself 
was connected with them ; and to a Roman citizen, the sons 
even of Brutus ^eemed contemptible when put into the baknce 
with the smallest interest of Rome. In these and in all other 
cases of this kind, our admiration is not so much founded 
>?pon the utility as upon the unexpected, and on that account 
the great, the noble, and exalted propriety of such actions. 
This utility, when we come to view it, bestows upon them 
undoubtedly a new beauty, and upon that account still further 
recommends them to our approbation. This beauty, how- 
ever, is chiefly perceived by men of reflection and specula- 
tion, and is by no means the quality which first recommends 
such actions to the natural sentiments of the bulk of man- 
kind. 

It is to be observed, that so far as the sentiment of ap- 


^^^P!^^^^^C^5B^^^^F^^^» 


CHAP, n.] OF UTILITY. 277 

« 

probation arises from the perception of this beauty of uti- 
lity, it has no reference of any kind to the sentiments of 
others. If it was possible, therefore, that a person should 
grow up to manhood without any communication with 
society, his own actions might, notwithstanding, be agree- 
able or disagreeable to him on account of their tendency 
to his happiness or disadvantage. He might perceive 
a beauty of this kind in prudence, temperance, and good 
conduct, and a deformity in the opposite behaviour ; he 
might view his own temper and character with that sort 
of satisfaction with which we consider a well-contrived 
machine in the one case ; or with that sort of distaste 
and dissatisfaction with which we regard a very awkward 
and clumsy contrivance in the other. As these percep- 
tions, however, are merely a matter of taste, and have all the 
feebleness and delicacy of that species of perceptions upon 
the justness of which what is properly called taste is founded, 
they probably would not be much attended to by one in his 
solitary and miserable condition. Even though they should 
occur to him, they would by no means have the same effect 
upon him, antecedent to his connection with society, which 
they would have in consequence of that connection. He 
would not be cast down with inward shame at the thought 
of this deformity; nor would he be elevatfed with secret 
triumph of mind firom the consciousness of the contrary 
beauty. He would not exult from the notion of deserving 
reward in the one case, nor tremble from the suspicion of 
meriting punishment in the other. All such sentiments sup- 
pose the idea of some other being, who is the natural judge 
of the person that feels them ; and it is only by sympathy 
with the decisions of this arbiter of his conduct, that he can 
conceive either the triumph of self-applause or the shame 
of self-condemnation. 


THE 


THEORY OF MORAL SENTIMENTS. 


Jart ^iftd. 


OF THE 

INFLUENCE OF CUSTOMAND FASfllOIT 

UPON THE 

SENTIMENTS OF MORAL APPROBATION AND 

DISAPPROBATION. 

OO.VSISTINa OF ONE SEOTIOV. 


CHAPTER L 

Qfihe Ir^iuence of Custom and Fashion upon our noiiona of 

BeavJty and Deformity, 

There are other principles besides those already enu- 
meratedy which have a considerable influence upon the moral 
sentiments of mankind, and are the chief causes of the many 
irregular and discordant opinions which prevail in different 
ages and nations' concerning what is blameable or praise- 
worthy. These principles are custom and fashion, principles 
which extend their dominion over our judgments concern- 
ing beau^ of every kind. 

When two objects have frequently been seen together, 
the imagination acquires a habit of passing easily from the 
one to the other. If the first appear, we lay our account 
that the second is to follow. Of their own accord they* put 
US in mind of one another, and the attention glides easily 
along them. • Though, independent of custom, there should 
be no real beauty in their union, yet when custom has thus 
connected them together^ we feel an impropriety in their 
separation. !I%e one we think is awkward when it appears 
without its usual companion. We miss something which 
we expected to find, and the habitual arrangement of our 
ideas is disturbed by the disappointment. A suit of clothes, 
for example, seems to want something if they are without 
the most insignificant ornament which usually accompanies 
them, and we find a meanness or awkwardness in the ab« 
-sence even of a haunch button. When there is any natural 
propriety in the union, custom increases our sense of it, and 
makes a different arrangement appear still more disagree* 
able than it would otherwise seem to be. Those who have 


282 OP THE INFLUENCE [pART. V. 

been accustomed to see things in a good taste, are more 
disgusted by whatever is clumsy or awkward. Where the 
conjunction is improper, custom either diminishes, or takes 
away altogether, our senae of ibe wipropriety. Those who 
have been accustomed to slovenly disorder lose all sense of 
vestaeM «r efegasnee. The aiodef of iuoBotaam or ibw 
which seem ridicidoiifi !• atnagois, give no offence to the 
people who are used to them. 

Fasfaba it rijffiafpwt ixmm ^utna, or valifaer k a paxticalar 
iqpeoieB of it ThtA is n>t tine fashkn vlucfa ev«i7 ho^ 
wears, l>iA wkidk tkoae "vraar wio ane af a h^ uuik 4r 
•duanetBr. TIms cncacdPuL ife eair, and ^^^—fc— ^jpiljac TBo^uh 
nesf «f idie gmiA, jxiuied to ^e usual ikb&ese aad sM^gatf- 
•OBBoe ^ idrobr Jrass, ^vr a grace to ihe ^rery iaisi mihiA 
they happen to bestow upon it. Aa k>i^ as tiiey ooririaaft 
to use this form, it is connected in our imaginations with 
£be idea of somalidng thai; is genteel mad magmfieeot, and 
tiu>a^ dn olBidf ii; aiboald be aa£ffiBi»Bit, it aeeoi^p 'CU 
of ?diiB reiatiaii, to iiave scanetinig about it Uttt is gented 
jrad flsagiufieeiit itoo. As eoon «s tkey drop it| ^ loses aH 
Hm ^raoB inhidi k iiad appeaced te paaseaa b^cai^ and ba- 
jin^ aaw -aaed <iiiif ]»y the laiiBD&r lEi^^ 
iuofe .afnnefdung of^titeir vnaaomesa aad .awkwafidaeaa. 

Dkeas aad fainteoe ane aUoarad by all tdie wodd to be 
avtiFely wider ike sibaniaion of (oaetett and ia&bioa. TtiB 
iaflaesioe «f iBbsoae prinoiplea, ha^evei:, ia rby ao xaeaaa 4K»- 
£ned to so narrow a aphere, ibut (extenda kadf tlo whate9«r 
la an any mspeet &e object ef taate^—^o jauaaic, to poetry, ta 
aodBteetave. The modea of •dneas and imaiitBve are <»»- 
^raniaily'dhaaging; and that iuBba/om, apqaeari^g ndicidaaa 
Ito-di^ wiucb waA .^idnnred fiwe yeaffa a^, we ase «xf»eii> 
nentdly eeirvinoed thai it onred its vogae ohiefly or aatinlj 
to 'caatam «nd fiudaon. CAothea and ifiaonitHFe jnre not aada 
atf very dundde materiida. A wteU-rfiaBeied icaat ia daoa ia 


C&Ai-» I.] OF <CU8T<MC 28S 

« twelTemont^, mad caiHiat ^ofuitinae longer to projpagatej 
las ^h» £»fi2u(»i, that form according to wladL it was made. 
The iBodes of ^saitare change less rapidlj than ihose of 
<dress ; beoauae &imitiire is commonly more durable. In 
£ve ox six fmtasAf dM)wever, it generally undergoes an entire 
3«voluti«n, and m-eacy itnan in his oivm time iaees the fieushiofn 
tin l^ds ves|ieet dMo^ many difierent ways. The produc- 
^as<of th6iathi»'<art« .are jnnch more lastii^ and, when 
Jukppily imagined, aaa^ continue to propi^aie the Jashion of 
tAieur make lor a much longer iime. A well-contrived 
ibntlding may ^endure many oentuiies ; a heontifiil air may 
he delivered idown, hy a «<^ of tradidon, through man^ 
mieoessive generations.; a well- written poem juay last as 
long cfcs the weirld ; and .all >of them continue for %ges to- 
jgetiber to gi^e the vqgue to that particular Atyle, to that 
jpactiedLarftas^ «r ana&iner,;ascording.to which each of them 
was oompoi^ed. Few men ha^e-an cyppostunity of seeing in 
iiheir <own limes 'tlie iaskion in any of <thes6 arts 'change ve^ 
•oensideimbly. Few nuen haire ao anuoh experience and ac- 
'qvuntanee witih the <difieiBttt modes which have obtained 
m remote i^es and >natianf8, as to ibe thoroughly reconciled 
to them, <x ta judge with impartiality between them and 
whai takes place in their own ^ge and countij. Few men, 
■liheBefore;, are wi^ng toaUow, rthat custom or fashion have 
much infiuenoe ^en their judgments concerning what is 
beautilul, or sdtberwiBe, in the productions of Any of those 
arts.; but imagine that sH the rules which they think 
ought <to be observed in .each ja£ them are founded upon 
stiason and natnne, not upon habit 'Or prejudice. A very 
.Httle atteninuE^n, LE^wet^ei;, may. convince them of the contrary, 
and satisfy them that the influence of custom and fashion 
over dress and furniture is not more absolute than over 
AEohitectUBe, f oetiy, and jnufiic. 

€an anj.reasoiv, for example, be assigned why tlieDonc 
Xfl^ital should be appropriated to a pillar, whose height is 


284 OP THE INFLUENCE [PART. T, 

equal to eight diameters ; the Ionic volute to one of nine ; 
and the Corinthian foliage to one of ten ? The propriety of 
each of those appropriations can he founded upon nothing 
hut hahit and custom. The eye having heen used to see a 
particular proportion connected with a particular ornament, 
would he offended if they were not joined together. Each 
of the &ye orders has its peculiar ornaments, which cannot 
be changed for any other, without giving offence to all those 
who know anything of the rules of architecture. Accord- 
ing to some architects, indeed, such is the exquisite judg- 
ment with which the ancients have assigned to each order 
its proper ornaments, that no others can be found which are 
equally suitable. It seems, however, a little difficult to be 
conceived that these forms, though no doubt extremely 
agreeable, should be the only forms which can suit those 
proportions, or that there should not be five hundred others, 
which, antecedent to established custom, would have fitted 
them equally well. When custom, however, has established 
particular ndes of building, provided they are not abso- 
lutely unreasonable, it is absurd to think of altering them 
for others which are only equally good, or even for others 
which, in point of elegance and beauty, have naturally some 
little advantage over them. A, man would be ridiculous 
who should appear in public with a suit of clothes quite 
different from those which are commonly worn, though the 
new dress should in itself be ever so graceful or convenient 
And there seems to be an absurdity of the same kind in 
ornamenting a house after a quite different manner from 
that which custom and fashion have prescribed ; though the 
new ornaments should in themselves be somewhat superior 
to the common ones. 

According to the ancient rhetoricians, a certain measoie 
or verse was by nature appropriated to each particular 
species of writing, as being naturally expressive of that 
eharacter, sentiment, or passion which ought to predominate 


3HAP. I.] OP CUSTOM. 285 

m it. One verse, they said, was fit for grave, and another 
for gay works, which could not, they thought, be inter- 
changed without the greatest impropriety. The experience 
of modem times, however, seems to contradict this principle, 
though in itself it would appear to be extremely probable. 
What is the burlesque verse in English is the heroic verse 
in French. The tragedies of Racine and the Henriad of 
Voltaire are nearly in the same verse with, 

** Let me haye yonr advice in a weiglitj afiair.*' 

The burlesque verse in French, on the contrary, is pretty 
much the same with the heroic verse of ten syllables in 
English. Custom has made the one nation associate the 
ideas of gravity, sublimity, and seriousness, to that measure 
which the other has connected with whatever is gay, flip- 
pant, and ludicrous. Nothing would appear more absurd 
in English than a tragedy written in the Alexandrine verses 
of the French ; or in French, than a work of the same kind 
in verses of ten syllables. 

An eminent artist will bring about a considerable change 
in the established modes of each of those arts, and intro- 
duce a new fashion of writing, music, or architecture. As 
the dress of an agreeable man of high rank recommends it 
self, and how peculiar and fantastical soever, comes soon 
to be admired and imitated ; so the excellencies of an 
eminent master recommend his peculiarities, and his man- 
ner becomes the fashionable style in the art which he 
practises. The taste of the Italians in music and architec- 
ture has, within these fifty years, undergone a considerable 
change, from imitating the peculiarities of some eminent 
masters in each of those arts. Seneca is accused by Quin- 
tilian of having corrupted the taste of the Romans, and of 
having introduced a frivolous prettiness in the room of 
majestic reason and masculine eloquence. Sallust and Ta- 
citus have by others been charged with the same aecusa- 


28S OP THF IMFLUBWCE [PART T. 

tion, tbosgli ni' a dtifiS&rent nmnner. They gaTe reputation^ 
it is pretenelfed, te a style which, though in the highest de- 
gree coneise, elegant, expressive, «Dd even poetical, want- 
ed, however, ease, simplicity, and nairture, and was evidently 
the prodnctien- of the most labou^d and studied affectatioB. 
How many great qualities must that writer possess who can 
&uft render his very faults agreeahle? Alter the praise el 
refining the taste of a nation, the highest etdegy, perhaps^ 
which can be bestowed upon any author, is to say that he 
corrupted it. In our own language, Mr Pope and Dr Swift 
have e&ch of them introduced a manner different from what 
WB& pvadioed before into aU works that are written ia 
diiymfi, tha one ia long vecses, the other in. short Tbt 
qiuintaesft of Butler has given place to the plainness el 
Swift. The nuBiUisg freedom, of Dryden,; and the eorreoti 
but oftea tedious and prosaic languor of Addisoi^ are na 
longer the objects of imitation,, but all long verses are nov 
written a&ec tks maaner of the aervova precisioa of Ms 
Pope. 

Keither is it only over the productions of the arts that 
costom and fswhioa exert their domiaioa. They iafluence 
ear jud^nfiaiA in the same maaner with regard to the 
beauty of natural obj,ects^ What veudous and opposita 
forms ace deemed beautiful in different species of things I 
The proportions which are admired ia oae aaimd are idto- 
gelher different £rom those which are esteemed ia another. 
Every class of tilings has its owa peculiar coaformaftion, 
which, is approved of^ and has a beasuty of its own, di^iact 
from that of every other species. It is upon this aceoaat 
that a learaed Jesuit,. Father Buffier,^ has deternuned that 
the beauty of every object consists in that form and coloui| 
which is most usual among things of that particular soft 
to which it belongs. Thus ia the humaa form the beauty 
of each feature lies ia a certain middle, equally removed 
from a. variety of other forms that are ugly. A beaotifid 


CHAP. I.] OP ctJBToar. 99T 

nose, for example, is ene that is neillier very long new Tery 
flfcort, nei^r Terj straight nor rery ct o©k»d, hv/i a sort of 
nneictle among all those extremes, ani less* difiSsvent h&m 
any one of them than all of them ape from* coie anertber. It 
m the {brra which NatiiTe seems to h»ve aimed at in them 
all, which, however, she Aviates from in* a great variety of 
wwys, awi very seldom hits exaertly ; hut to which all those 
deviardons atill bear a very strong rese«ihlane«. When a 
xnrmher of ^SEWtngs are made after one pattern, though 
fiiey may aU miss it in some respects, yet they will all re* 
semMeit more than they resemble one another; the gene^ 
ml character of tlie pattern will nut through them all ; the 
most saigiilar and odd wiB be thoe« which are roost wide 
of it ; and though very few will eopy it exactly, yet the 
most secizrate delineatrons will bear a greater resemblance 
f o the most carelessy than the careless ones will heaff to omi 
another. In the same manner, in each species of creatiives^ 
wirat is »oet beatttiful bears the strongest characters of the 
general &bric of the specieif, and has the fttrongeat resem- 
blance to the greater part of the individuals with which it is 
elassed. Monsters^ cm the contrary, or what i» per£eetly 
^lefotmed, are^ always most siBgnlar and odd, and have the 
least resefflhlaiice to the gepieraMty of that specie* to whack 
they belong. And thus the beauty of each species^ though 
m one sense Hke rarest of all things^ becavse few indvvidbKals 
bit thi« midd^ ibrm exactly, yet in aaother is tlte most 
common, hecanse all the deviatiene Ifooi it resemble it moare 
than they reeeral»le one another. The most cnstennary 
form therefore is, in each species of things, according to 
bim, the moet beaaftifiiir And heifee it is that a certain 
practice and experience in centemplatiDg each i^cies of 
objects iff requisite, belote we can judge ei its beauty, or 
know wherein the mifddle and most nsisal form consists. 
The nicest judgment coneermig the beauty of the humaD 
species will not help us to jndige of that of flowers or 
bones, or any other gpecicB of things. It is for the same 


288 OF THE INFLUENCE [PAKT Y. 

reason that in different climates, and where different cus- 
toms and ways of living take place, as the generality of any 
species receives a different conformation from those circum- 
stances, so different ideas of its beauty prevail. The beauty 
of a Moorish is not exactly the same with that of an Eng- 
lish horse. What different ideas are formed in different 
nations concerning the beauty of the human shape and 
countenance I A fair complexion is a shocking deformily 
upon the coast of Guinea. Thick lips and a fiat nose are 
a beauty. In some nations long ears that hang down 
upon the shoulders are the objects of universal admira- 
tion. In China, if a lady's foot is so large as to be fit to 
walk upon, she is regarded as a monster of ugliness. 
Some of the savage nations in North America tie four 
boards round the heads of their children, and thus squeeze 
them, while the bones are tender and gristly, into a form 
that is almost perfectly square. Europeans are astonished 
at the absurd barbarity of this practice, to which some mis- 
sionaries have imputed the singular stupidity of those na- 
tions among whom it prevails. But when they condemn 
those savages, they do not refiect that the ladies in Europe 
had, till within these very few years, been endeavouring for 
near a century past to squeeze - the beautiful roundness of 
their natural shape into a square form of the same kind. 
And that, notwithstanding the many distortions and dis- 
eases which this practice was known to occasion, custom 
had rendered it agreeable among some of the most civilized 
nations which perhaps the world ever beheld. 

Such is the system of this learned and ingenious father, 
concerning the nature of beauty ; of which the whole charm, 
according to him, would thus seem to arise firom its fiilling 
in with the habits which custom had . impressed upon the 
imagination, with regard to things of each particular kind. 
I cannot, however, be induced to believe that our sense 
even of external beauty is founded altogether on custonL 


CHAP* Z.1 OF CUSTOM. 299 

The utility of any form, its fitness for the useful purposes 
for which it was intended, evidently recommends it, and 
renders it agreeable to us, independent of custom. Certain 
colours are more agreeable than others, and give more de- 
light to the eye the first time it ever beholds them. A 
smooth surface is more agreeable than a rough one. Va- 
riety is more pleasing than a tedious undiversified unifor- 
mity. Connected variety, in which each new appearance 
seems to be introduced by what went before it, and in which 
all the adjoining parts seem to have some natural relation to 
one another, is more agreeable than a disjointed and dis- 
ojrderly assemblage of unconnected objects. But though I 
cannot admit that custom is the sole principle of beauty, yet 
I can so far allow the truth of this ingenious system, as 
to grant that there is scarce any one external form so 
beautiful as to please, if quite contrary to custom, and un- 
like whatever we have been used to in that particular 
species of things ; or so deformed as not to be agreeable, if 
eustom uniformly supports it, and habituates us to see it in 
every single individual of the kind. 


til 


OF THS nCFLDEaOE [lABV. V. 


CHAPTER IL 

> 

Of Ab Infiumoe qf Outiom and Ftoshion itpon Moral Sefiih 

SiENCS our f 0QtiiDeQt8 eonceming beauty of orery Idol 
are so mucfh infioeiuBed by cufitom and fashion, it cannot be 
egcpeeted that those ooneeming the beauty of condaot 
flbould be entirely exempted from the domuuon of those 
principles. Ilieir influence here, however, seotts to be 
much less than it is everywhere else! There is, perhf^ii 
no form of external objects, how absurd and fantastical se» 
erer, io which custom will not reconcilers, or which fasBkA 
will not render even agreeable. But the characters ul 
ecmduet of a Nero, or a Claudius, are what no custom wiU 
ever reconcile us to, what no fashion will ever rente 
agreeable ; but the one will always be the object of dread 
and hatred — the other of scorn and derision. The principles 
of the imagination, upon which our sense of beauty depends, 
are of a very nice and deli<;ate nature, and may easily be 
altered by habit and education ; but the sentiments of moral 
approbation and disapprobation are founded on the strongest 
and most vigorous passions of human nature ; and though 
they may be somewhat warpt, cannot be entirely perverted. 

But though the influence of custom and fashion upon 
moral sentiments is not altogether so great, it is, however, 
perfectly similar to what it is everywhere else. When cus^ 
torn and fashion coincide with the natural principles of right 
and wrong, they heighten the delicacy of our sentiments, and 
increase our abhorrence for everything which approaches 
to evil. Those who have been educated in what is really 


9B! 


4f&AP. n.] o¥ ctmTOM. S9I 

good company, not in what is commonly ca&ed mch, wh» 
hsLYt been accustomed to see nothing in the persons whom 
lliey e&teemed and li^ed with, but justice, modesty, hu- 
manity, and good order, are more inched irith whatever 
seems to be inconsistent with the rules which those virtues 
prescribe. Those, on the contrary, who have had the mislbr- 
tai^ to be brought up amidst violence, licen^usness, false* 
hood, and injustice, lose though not all sense of the impro* 
priety of such conduct, yet all sense of its dreadful enor- 
mity, or of the vengeance and punishment due to it. 'Riej 
hkve been familiarized with it from their infancy, custom 
lias rendered it habitual to them, and they are very apt to 
regard it as what is called the way of the worH, some^ 
tiling which either may, or must be practised, to hinder nsf 
horn being the dupes of our own integrity. 

Fashion, too, will sometimes give reputation to a certain 
i©gi?ee of disorder, and, on the contrary, cKscountenance 
qualities which deserve esteem. In die reign of Charles 
II. a degree of licentiousness was deemed. the characterislie 
of a liberal education. It was connected, according to the 
BOtions of those times, with generosity, sincerity, magna- 
nimity, loyalty, and proved that the person who acted in 
this manner was a gentleman and not a puritan. Severity 
•f manners and regularity of conduct, on the other hand, 
were altogether unfiashionable, and were connected, in the' 
imagination of that age, with cant, cunning, hypocrisy, and 
low manners. To superficial minds the vices of the great 
seem at all times agreeable. They connect them, not only 
witii the splendour of fortune, but with many superior 
Tirtues which they ascribe to their superiors; with the 
spirit of freedom and independency, with frankness, gene- 
rosity, humanity, and politeness. The virtues of the in- 
ferior ranks of peoplie, on the contrary, their parsimonioirs 
frugality, their painful industry, and rigid adherence to 
rules, seem to them mean and disagreeable. They connect 


892 OP THE INFLUENCE [PART T. 

tbem bolih widi the ineanness of the station to which those 
qualities commonly belong, and with many great vices 
which, they suppose, usually accompany them — such as an 
■abject, cowardly, ill-natured, lying, pilfering disposition. 

The objects with which men in the different professions 
and states of life are conversant being very different, and 
habituating them to very different passions, naturally form 
in them very differejit characters and manners. We expect 
in each rank and profession a degree of those manners 
which, experience has taught us, belonged to it. But as 
in each species of things we are particularly pleased with 
{he middle confirmation, which, in every part and feature, 
agrees most exactly with the general standard which nature 
seems to have established for things of that kind ; so in 
each rank, or, if I may say so, in each species of men, we 
are particularly pleased, if they have neither too much nor 
too little of the character which usually accompanies their 
particular condition and situation. A man, we say, should 
look like his trade and profession ; yet the pedantry of every 
profession is disagreeable. The different periods of life 
have, for the same reason, different manners assigned to 
them. We expect in old age that gravity and sedateness 
which its infirmities, its long experience, and -i^ j^orn-out 
sensibility seem to render both natural and relpectable ; 
and we lay our account to find in youth that sensibility, . 
attat gaiety and sprightly vivacity, which experience teaches 
us to expect from the lively impressions that all interesting 
oli|j*ects are apt to make upon the tender and unpractised 
senses of that early period of life. Each of those two ages^ 
however, may easily have too much of these peculiarities 
which belong to it. The flirting levity of youth, and the 
iunmoveable insensibility of old age, are equally disagree- 
able. The young, according to the common saying, are 
most agreeable when in their behaviour there is something 
of the manners of the old; and the old, when they letaia 


GEAP. n.] OF CUSTOIC. 293 

something of the gaiety of the young. Either of them, 
however, may Easily have too much of the manners of the 
other. The extreme coldness afid dull formality which 
are pardoned in old age, make youth ridiculous. The 
levity, the carelessness, and the vanity, which are indulged 
in youth, render old age contemptible. . 

The peculiar character and manners which we are led by 
custom to appropriate to each rank and profession, have 
sometimes, perhaps, a propriety independent of custom, 
and are what we should approve of for their own sakes, if 
"we took into consideration all the dififerent circumstances 
which naturally affect those in each different state of life. 
The propriety of a person's behaviour depends not upon 
its suitableness to any one circumstance of his situation, but 
to all the circumstances which, when we bring his case 
home to ourselves, we feel should naturally call upon his 
attention. If he appears to be so much occupied by any 
one of them as entirely to neglect the rest, we disapprove 
of his conduct as something which we cannot entirely go 
along with, because not properly adjusted to all the cir* 
cumstances of his situation : yet, perhaps, the emotion he 
expresses for the object which principally interests him 
does not exceed what we should entirely sympathize with 
and approve of in one whose attention was not required by 
any other thing. A parent in private life might, upon the 
loss of an only son, express without blame a degree of 
grief and tenderness which would be unpardonable in a 
general at the head of an army, when glory and the public 
safety demanded so great a part of his attention. As dif- 
ferent objects ought, upon common occasions, to occupy 
the attention of men of different professions, so different 
passions ought naturally to become habitual to them ; and 
when we bring home to ourselves their situation in this 
particular respect, we must be sensible that every occurrence 
should naturally affect them more or less, according as the 


M4 OF THft INFLUENCE [PAEt Y. 

.«nidtioii wUch it excites coincides os disagree m£tk tbe 
fixed habit and temper of their minds. We caimot expect 
thef same sensibility to the gay pleasures and amuseireate 
of ^life in a clezgyman which we lay our account with in 
an officer. The man whose peculiar occi^ation is to keep 
the world in mind of that awful futurity which awaits them, 
who is to announce what may be the fatal consequences of 
«v^ry deviation from the rules of duty, and who is himself 
to ifet the exanpie of the most exact conibrmity, aeema to be 
tiie messenger of tidings which canuoti in propriety, be 
delivered either with levity or indi&renee. His mind i^ 
^supposed to be oontlnuaily occupied with what is too grand 
jsiid solemn to leave any room far the impressions of those 
£ivelona objects which fill up the attention of the dissipated 
«Bd the gay. We readily feel, therefore, that independent 
o£ cu^om, there k a propriety in the manness whidi ciMh 
tobk haa allotted to this professLon, and that nothing eaa 
be mere suitable to the character of a clergyman than that 
^rave, that aasteve and abstracted severity whidi we aos 
habituated to expect in his behaviour. These reflections 
4ffa so very obviona, that there is acazce any man so isf 
ooneideraie as not at some time to have made them, and 
to have accounted to himsdf in this manner for his appsor 
bation of the usual character of this ordw. 

The foundation of the customary character of some otiber 
professions is not so obvious, and our approbation <^ it is 
founded entirely in habit, without being either confirmed 
<»r enlivened by any reflections of this kind. We axe led 
hy custom, for example, to annex the dbaracter of gaiety, 
levity, and sprightly freedom, as well as o£ some degree of 
dissipation, to the militaiy profession. Yet if we were to 
consider what mood or tone of temper would be most sail-* 
Ma to this situation, we diould be apt to determine, per- 
haps, that the most serious and tiioughtful turn of mmi, 
would best become those whose lives are continualJy ex- 


OBAP. n.] «F CUVTOIC SM 

poBed to ttneommoii danger, and who shonliiy therefore, be 
more eonstantiy occupied with the thoughts x>i death and 
its consequences than other men. It is this very ciroum*- 
stance, however, which is not improbably the occasion why 
the contrary turn of mind prevails so much aimong men of 
tiiis profession. It requires so great an effort to conquer 
the fear of death, when we survey it with steadiness and 
attention, that those who are constantly exposed to it &id 
It easier to tnm away their thoughts from it altogether, to 
wrap themselves up in careless security and indifierence) 
tad to plunge tliemselves,''for this purpose, into every sort 
^ amusement and dissipation. A camp is not the element 
of a thoughtful or a melancholy man : persons of that cast, 
mdeed, are often abundantly determined, and are capable, 
by a great effort, of going on with inflexible resolution to 
Ifee most unavoidable death. But to* be exposed to continual^ 
though less imminent danger, to be obliged to exert, for a 
long time, a degree of this effort, exhausts and depresses the 
fliind, and renders it incapable of all happiness and enjoy- 
ment. The gay and careless, who have occasion to make 
no effort at all, who fairly resolve never to look befove 
them, but to lose, in continual pleasures and amusements, 
idi anxiety about their situation, more easily support sueh 
drcumstanced. Whenever, by any peculiar circumstances^ 
•Ik officer has no reason to lay his account with being ex* 
posed to any uncommon danger, he is very apt to^ lose the 
gaiety and dissipated thoughdessness of his character. The 
captain of a city*guard is commonly as sober, careful, and 
penurious an animal as the rest of his fellow-citizens. A 
long peace is, for the same reason, very apt to diminish the 
difference between the civil and the military character. The 
ordinary situation, however, of men of this profession, 
renders gaiety and a degree of dissipation so much their 
usual character, and custom has, in our imagination, so 
strongly connected this character with this state of^fe, thai 


296 OF THE INFLUENCE [PABT T* 

f 

I 

we ftre very apt to despise any man whose peculiar bnnioiif 
or situation renders him incapable of acquiring it. We 
laugh at the grave and careful faces of a city-guard, which 
so little resemble those of their profession: they themselves 
seem often to be ashamed of the regularity of their own 
manners, and, not to be out of the fashion of their trad% 
are fond of affecting that levity which is by no means natu- 
rd to them. Whatever is the deportment which we have 
b^en accustomed to see in a respectable order of men, it 
comes to be so associated in our imagination with that order, 
that whenever we see the one we lay our account that we 
are to meet with the other, and when disappointed, miss 
something which we expected to find. We are embarrassed, 
and put to a stand, and know not how to address ourselves 
to a character which plainly affects to be of a different 
species from those with which we should have been disposed 
to class it. 

The different situations of different ages and countries 
are apt, in the same manner, to give different characters to 
the generality of those who live in them, and their senti* 
ments concerning the particular degree of each quality that 
is either blameable or praiseworthy, vary according to that 
degree which is usual in their own country and in their 
own times. That degree of politeness which would be 
highly esteemed, perhaps would be thought effeminate 
adulation, in Russia, would be regarded as rudeness and 
barbarism at the court of France. That degree of order 
and frugality which, in a Polish nobleman, would be con- 
sidered as excessive parsimony, would be regarded as ex- 
travagance in a citizen of Amsterdam* Every age and 
country look upon that degree of each quality which is 
commonly to be met with in those who are esteemed, among 
themselves, as the golden mean of that particular talent or 
virtue ; and as this varies according as their different cir* 


# 


CHAP, n.] 07 CUSTOM. 297 

cnmistances render different qualities more or less babitnal 
to them, their sentiments, concerning the exact propriety of 
character and behaviour, vary accordingly. 

Among civilized nations, the virtues "wnich are founded 
upon humanity are more cultivated than those which are 
founded upon self-denial and the command of the passions. 
Among rude and barbarous nations it is quite otherwise — 
the virtues of self-denial are more cultivated than those of 
humanity. The general security and happiness which pre- 
vail in ages of civility and politeness, afford little exercise 
to the contempt of danger, to patience in enduring labour, 
hunger, and pain. Poverty may easily be avoided, and the 
contempt of it, therefore, almost ceases to be a virtue. The 
abstinence from pleasure becomes less necessary, and the 
mind is more at.liberty to unbend itself, and to indulge its 
natural inclinations in all those particular respects. 

Among savages and barbarians it is quite otherwise. 
Every savage undergoes a sort of Spartan discipline, and, 
by the necessity of his situation, is inured to every sort of 
hardship. He is in continual danger : he is often exposed 
to tlie greatest extremities of hunger, and frequently dies of 
pure want. His circumstances not only habituate him to 
every sort of distress, but teach him to give way to none of 
the passions which that distress is apt to excite. He can 
expect from his countrymen no sympathy or indulgence for 
such weakness. Before we can feel much for others, we 
must in some measure be at ease ourselves. If our own 
misery pinches us very severely, we have no leisure to 
attend to that of our neighbour : and all savages are too 
much occupied with their own wants and necessities to give 
much attention to those of another person. A savage, 
therefore, whatever be the nature of his distress, expects 
no sympathy from those about him, and disdains upon 
that account to expose himself, by allowing the least 


996 OF JBE INFLUENCE. [fAKT. T. 

iroaknass to escape him. His passions, how farions and 
violent soever^ are never permitted to disturb the serenitf 
of his countenance, or the composure of his conduct and 
behaviour. The savages in North America, we are told, 
jMBume upon all occasions the greatest indifference, and 
.would think themselves degraded if they should ever ap- 
pear in any respect to be overcome either hj love, orgrie^ 
or resentment. Their magnanimity and self-command in 
this respect are almost beyond the conception of Europeans. 
.In a country in which all men are upon a level with re^ 
fgard to rank and fortune, it might be expected that the 
mutual inclinations of the two parties should be the only 
thing c(»isidered in marriages, and should be indulged 
.without any sort of control. This, however, is the coun- 
try in which all marriages^ without exception, are made up 
})f the parents, and in which a young man would think 
himself disgraced for ever if he shewed the least preference 
of one woman above another, or did not express the most 
complete indifference both about the time when and the 
person to whom he was to be married. The weakness of 
love, which is so much indulged in ages of humanity and 
poUtenessy is regarded among savages as the most unpar- 
donable effeminacy. Even afiter the marriage, the two 
partieff seem to be ashamed of a connection which is found- 
ed upon so sordid a necessity. They do not live together: 
they see one another by stealth only : they both continue 
to dwdil in the houses of their respective fftthers, and the 
open cohabitation of the two sexes, which is permitted 
without blame in all other countries, is here considered as 
the most indecent and unmanly sensuality. Nor is it only 
over this agreeable passion that they exert this absolute 
fttlf-command. They often bear, in the sight of all their 
countrymen, with injuries,' reproach, and the grossest in- 
i^ults, with the appearance of the greatest insensibility, and 
without expressing the smallest resentment. When a savage 
is made prisoner of war, and receives, as is usual, the sen* 


csAP. U.J OF cueioif. 99t 

fence of deatli from, his conqoerorsy he hears it without ex* 
pveasing any emotion, and afterwards submits to the moat 
dreadful torments, without ever bemoaning himself, or die- 
•orering any other passion but contempt of his enemies; 
While he is hung by the shoulders over a slow fire, he 
derides his tormentors, and tells them with how much mora 
ingenuity he himself had tormented sudi of their country* 
men as had fallen into his hands. After he has been scorch- 
ed and burnt, and lacerated in all the most tender and 
sensible parts of his body for several hours together, he is 
often allowed, in order to prolong his misery, a short respite^ 
and is taken down from the stake ; he employs this interval 
ia talking upon all indifferent subjects, inquires after the 
■aws of the oouatryy and seems indifSsrent about nothing 
but his own situation. The spectators express &e same 
iBsensibility ; the sight of so horrible an object seems ta 
make no impressioa upon them ; they scaree look at the 
prisoner, except when they lend a hand to torment him. 
At other times they smoke tobacco, and amuse themselves 
with any common object, as if no such matter was going 
on. Every savage is said to prepare himeelf, from his 
eailiest youth, for this dreadful end : he composes for this 
purpose what they call the song of death, a song which he 
ia to sing when be has fallen into the hands of his enemieSy 
and is expiring under the tortures which they inflict upon 
him. It consists of insults upon his tormentors, and ex« 
presses the highest contempt of death and pain. He sings 
this song upon aE extraordinary occasions ; when he goes 
•ut to war, when he meets his enemies in the field, or when* 
ever he has a mind to shew that he has familiarized his 
imagination to the most dreadful misfortunes, and that no 
human event can daunt his resolution or alter his purpose* 
The same contempt of death and'torture prevails among all 
other savage nations.. There is not a negro from the coast 
of Africa who does not, in this respect, possess a degree of 
Biagnaaimity which the soul of his sordid master is too 


800 OF THE IKFLUENGE [PART T. 

often scarce capable of conceWing. Fortune never exerted 
more cruelly her empire over mankind than when she sub* . 
jected those nations of heroes to the refuse of the gaols of 
Europe, to wretches who possess the virtues neither of the 
countries which .they come from, nor of those which they 
go to, and whose levity, brutality, and baseness, so justly 
expose them to the contempt of the vanquished. 

This heroic and unconquerable firmness, which the custom 
and education of his country demand of every savage, itf 
not required of those who are brought up to Uve in civi- 
lized societies. If these last complain when they are in pain, 
if they grieve when they are in distress, if they allow them* 
pelves either to be overcome by love, or to be discomposed 
by anger, they are easily pardoned. Such weaknesses aie 
not apprehended to afifect the essential parts of their cha-> 
racter. As long as they do not allow themselves to be trans- 
ported to do any thing contrary to justice or humanity, 
they lose but little reputation, though the serenity of their 
countenance, or the composure of their discourse and 
behaviour, should be somewhat ruffled and disturbed. A 
humane and polished people, who have more sensibility to 
the passions of others, can more readily enter into an ani- 
piated and passionate behaviour, and can more easily pardon 
some little excess. The person principally concerned is 
sensible of this ; and being assured of the equity of his 
judges, indulges himself in stronger expressions of passioui 
and is less afraid of exposing himself to their contempt by 
the violence of his emotions. We can venture to express 
more emotion in the presence of a friend than in that of a 
stranger, because we expect more indulgence from the one 
than from the other. And in the same manner the rules of 
decorum among civilized nations admit of a more animated 
behaviour than is approved of among barbarians. The first 
converse together with the openness of friends ; the second, 
with the reserve of strangers. The emotion and vivacity 


CHAP. II. J OP CUSTOBt. JSOl 

with which the French and the Italians, the two inost po- 
lished nations upon the Continent, express themselves on 
occasions that are at all interesting, surprise at first those 
strangers who happen to be travelling among them, and 
who, having been educated among a people of duller sen-* 
ability, cannot enter into this passionate behaviour, of which 
they have never seen any example in their own country. A 
young French nobleman will weep, in the presence of the 
whole court, upon being refused a regiment. An Italian, 
says the. Abbot Dd Bos, expressiss more emotion on being 
condemned in a fine of twenty shillings than an Englishman 
on receiving the sentence of death. Cicero, in the times of 
the highest Roman politeness, could, without degrading 
himself, weep, with all the bitterness of sorrow, in the 
sight of the whole senate and the whole people — as it is 
evident he must have done in the end of almost every ora* 
tion. The orators of the earlier and ruder ages of Rome 
could not probably, consistent with the manners of tbe times, 
kave expressed themselves with so much emotion. It 
would have been regarded, I suppose, as a violation of na- 
ture and propriety in the Scipios, in the Leliuses, and in 
the elder Cato, to have exposed so much tenderness to the 
view of the public. Those ancient warriors could express 
themselves with order, gravity, and good judgment, but 
are said to have been strangers to that sublime and passion- 
ate eloquence which was first introduced into Rome, not 
many years before the birth of Cicero, by the two Gracchi, 
by Crassus, and by Sulpitius. This animated eloquence, 
which has been long practised with or without success both 
in France and Italy, is but just beginning to be introduced 
into England. So wide is the difference between the de- 
grees of self-command which are required in civilized 
and in barbarous nations, and by such different standards 
do they judge of the propriety of behaviour. 

This difference gives occasion to many others that are 


BOS OF TBB nCFLITEllCE [PAST T. 

not lew esaentifil. A polished people being accustoined te 
l^ve way, in Aome measure, to the movements of nature, 
become franks open, and abeere. Barbanans, on the cod. 
trary, being obliged to smother and conceal the appeanmoe 
of eveij passiooi, neeeasanly acqimre the halnts of falsehood 
aad dissimttlation. It is obserTed by all those who have 
becfn convenMiiit with savage nations, whetho: in Asia, 
Africa, or Ameriea, that they ase all eqaa% impenetrable, 
and that, when they have a mind to conceal the truth, no 
exMBination is capable of drawing it from them. Hiey 
ea«not be trepanned by the most artfiil qneations. The 
torture itself is i&eapable of making them coBfess any 
thitig which they have no mind to tell. The passions of a 
aarragCf too, though they never express themselves by aay 
•iitward emotion, but lie concealed in the breast of tiie suf- 
ferer, are, notwithstanding, all moanted to the highest pitoh^ 
of fnry. Though he seldom shews any symptoms of anger, 
yet his vengeanee, when he comes to give way to it, is al- 
ways sanguinary and dreadful. The least airomt drives 
him to despair* His countenance and diseourscy indeed, 
are stfll sober and composed, and express nothing buttha 
mostperiect truaquiHity of mind ; bnt his actions are often 
the most furioas and violent. Among the North Ameri- 
euis it is not uncommon for persons of the tead^est age and 
more fearful sex, to drown themselves upon receiving only a 
slight reprimand from their mothers, and this too with<Hit 
expressing any passion, or saying any thing, except ^yom 
^k&il no longer have a daug?tterj* In civilized nations, the 
pas^ons of men are not commonly so frurious or so despe- 
tate. They are oflen clamorous and noisy, but are seldom 
very hurtful, and seem frequently to aim at no other satis- 
fayetion but that of convindng the spectator that they are 
in the right to be so much moved, and of procuring his 
sympathy and approhtttioii. 

All these efiects of cnstom and hddoaj however, upon 


CHAP, n.] OF cDBTcaL 90i 

ihe moral sentoDfliitt of xnankind, are inconsiderable in com- 
parison of those which they give occasion to in some other 
cases ; and it is not concerning the general style of charac- 
ter and behaviour that those principles produce the greateift 
perversion of judgment, but concerning the propriety or im- 
propriety of particular usages. 

The different manners which custom teaches us to approve 
of in the different professions and states of life, do not con- 
cern things of the greatest importance. We expect truth 
«nd justice from an old man as well as from a young, from 
a clergyman as well as from an officer ; and it is in matteri 
of small moment only that we look for the distinguishing 
marks of their respective chaxaeters. With regard to these, 
too, there is often some imobserved circumstance, which, if 
it was attended to, would shew us, that, independent of 
custom, there was a propriety in the character which custom 
ha^ taught us to allot to each profession. We cannot com- 
plain, therefore, in this case, that the perversion of natural 
sentiment is very great Though the manners of different 
nations require different degrees of the same quality in the 
character which they think worthy of esteem, yet the worst 
that can be said to happen even here is, that the duties of 
one virtue are sometimes extended so as to encroach a little 
upon the precincts of some other. The rustic hospitality 
that is in fashion among the Poles encroaches, perhaps, a 
little upon economy and good order ; and the frugality thai 
is esteemed in Holland, upon generosity and good-fellow- 
ship. The hardiness demanded of savages diminishes their 
humanity; and, perhaps, the delicate sensibility required 
in civilized nations sometimes destroys the masculine firm- 
ness of the character. In general the style of manners 
which takes place in any nation may commonly, upon the 
whole, be said to be that which is most suitable to its situa- 
tion. Hardiness is the charactei' most suitable to the cir- 


304 OF THE INFLUENCE [PA&I Y« 

oamstatices of a savage ; sensibility to tiiosie of one who 
lives in a very civilized society. Even here, therefore, we 
cannot complain that the moral sentiments of men are very 
grossly perverted. 

It is not, therefore, in the general style of conduct or 
behaviour that custom authorizes the widest departure from 
what is the natural propriety of action. With regard to 
particular usages, its influence is often much more destruc- 
tive of good morals, and it is capable of establishing, as 
lawful and blameless, particular actions, which shock the 
plainest principles of right and wrong. 

Can there be greater barbarity, for example, than to hurt 
an infant ? — its helplessness, its innocence, its amiableness, 
call forth the compassion even of an enemy, and not to 
spare that tender age is regarded as the most furious effort 
of an enraged and cruel conqueror What then should wc 
imagine must be the heart of a parent who could injure that 
weakness which even a fdrious enemy is afraid to violate? 
Yet the exposition, that is, the murder of new-bom infants, 
was a practice allowed of in almost all the states of Greece, 
even among the polite and civilized Athenians ; and when- 
ever the circumstances of the parent rendered it inconveni- 
ent to bring up the child, to abandon it to hunger, or to 
wild beasts, was regarded without blame or censure. This 
practice had, probably, begun in times of the most savage 
barbarity. The imaginations of men had been first made 
familiar with it in that earliest period of society, and the 
uniform continuance of the custom had hindered them after- 
wards from perceiving its enormity. We find at this day 
tiliat this practice prevails among all savage nations ; and 
in that rudest and lowest state of society it is undoubtedly 
more pardonable than in any other. The extreme indigence 
of a savage is often such that he himself is frequently ex* 


CHAP. II.] OP CUSTOM. 305 

posed to the greatest extremity of hunger ; he often dies of 
pure want ; and it is frequently impossible for him to sup- 
port both himself and his child. We cannot wonder, there- 
fore, that in this case he should abandon it. One who, in 
flying from an enemy whom it was impossible to resist, 
should throw down his infant because it retarded his flight, 
would surely be excusable ; since, by attempting to save it, 
lie could only hope for the consolation of dying with it That 
in this state of society, therefore, a parent should be allow- 
ed to judge whether he can bring up his child ought not 
to surprise us so greatly. In the latter ages of Greece, 
however, the same thing was permitted from views of re- 
mote interest or conveniency, which could by no means ex- 
cuse it. Uninterrupted custom had by this time so tho* 
roughly authorized the practice, that not only the loose 
maxims of the world tolerated this barbarous prerogative, 
but even the doctrine of philosophers, which ought to have 
been more just and accurate, was led away by the establish- 
ed custom ; and upon this, as upon many other occasions, 
instead of censuring, supported the horrible abuse by far- 
fetched considerations of public utility. Aristotle taUu of 
it as of what the magistrate ought, upon many occasions, 
to encourage. The humane Plato is of the same opinion, 
and, with all that love of mankind which seems to animate 
all his writings, nowhere marks this practice with disappro« 
batioiu When custom can give sanction to so dreadM a 
-violation of humanity, we may well imagine that there is 
aearce any particular practice so gross which it cannot 
authorize. Such a thing, we hear men every day saying, 
18 commonly done, and they seem to think this a sufficient 
apology for what, in itself, is the most unjust and unreason- 
able conduct. 


There is an obvious reason why custom should never 
pervert our sentiments with regard to the general style and 

X 


306 


OF THE IKFLU£N€£ OF CUSTOM. f PAST Y* 


eharaeter of ccmdoct aniL behaTiour, in the aaxue degree u 
with regard to the propriety or unlawfulness of partievkr 
usages. There never can be any such custom. No societj 
could subsist a moment, in which the usual strain of mea's 
conduct and behaviour was of a piece with the honilik 
practice I have just now mentioned. 


^"^^^"■■^■"■"■■^■^■iB*''<VBi"MHPmiSlV^W 


THE 


rBEORY OF MORAL SENTIMENTS. 


^0t^t0»0t^»0^^^^^^>^^^l^t^ . 


OF THE CHARACTER OF VIRTUE. 


coirsisTiiro of thbee sections. 


.. . i^if 


^^.mmmmmmmmmmmfmmmm^mmmmmim^m^^^mm^m^^m^mmm^K^m^fmm^m 


' c 


INTRODUCTION. 


^'\* 


' When we consider the cliaracter of any individual, we 
naturally view it under two different aspects ; first, as it 
nay affect his own happiness ; and, secondly, as it may af- 
fect that of other people. 


fv i 


^ - ■• 


* ; . 






\ . .* 


^^^^^»^^ 


SECTION I. 

OF THE CHARACTER OF THE INDIVIDUAL, SO FAR 
AS IT AFFECTS HIS OWN HAPPINESS ; OR OF PRU- 
DENCE. 

The preservation and healthful state of the body seem 
to be the objects which nature first recommends to the caie 
of every individual. The appetites of hunger and thirst, 
the agreeable or disagreeable sensations of pleasure and 
pain, of heat and cold, &c. may be considered as lessons 
delivered by the voice of Nature herself, directing him what 
be ought to choose, and what he ought to avoid, for tiiis 
purpose. The first lessons which he is taugbt by those 
to whom his childhood is entrusted, tend, the greater part 
of them, to the same purpose. Their principal object is to 
teach him how to keep out of harm's way. 

• As he grows up, he soon learns that some care and fore- 
sight are necessary for providing the means of gratifying 
those natural appetites, of procuring pleasure and avoiding 
pain, of procuring the agreeable and avoiding the disagree- 
able temperature of heat and cold. In the proper direction 
of this care and foresight consists the art of preserving and 
increasing what is called his external fortune. 

Though it is in order to supply the necessities and con- 
veniences of the body that the advantages of external for- 
tune are originally recommended to us, yet we cannot live 
long in the world without perceiving that the respect of 
our equals, our credit and rank in the society we live in^ 
depend very much upon the degree in which we posscsSj 
or are supposed to possess, those advantages. The desire 


•ICT. I.] OF THE CHARACTEB OF VIRTUE. 311 

«f becoming the proper objects of this respect, of doserving 
and obtainmg this credit and rank among our equals, is 
perhaps the strongest of all our desires ; and our anxiety 
to obtain the advantages of fortune is, aceordingly, modi 
more excited and irritated hj this desire than hy that of 
sopplying all the necessities and eonveniences of the body, 
which are always very easily supplied. 

Our rank and <»redit among our equals, too, depend very 
much upon what, perhaps, a virtnous man would wish 
them to depend entirely, — our character and conduct, or 
upon the confidence, esteem, and good-will, which these 
naturally excite in the people we live with. 

The care of the health, of the fortune, of the rank and 
reputation of the individual, the objects upon which his 
comfort and happiness in this life are supposed principaUy 
to depend, is considered as the proper business of that vir- 
toe which is commonly called prudence. 

We su&r m(M:e, it has already been observed, when we 
fdl from a better to a worse situation, than we ever enjoy 
when wo rise from a w<nrse to a better. Security, there* 
fore, is the first and the principal object of prudence. It is 
averse to expose our health, our fortune, our rank, or re- 
putation, to any sort of hazard. It is rather cautious than 
-enterprising, and more anxious to preserve the advantages 
wkidi we already possess than forward to prompt us to the 
•eqaiation of still greater advantages. The methods €€ 
imf^ving our fortnne, whidi it principally recommends to 
n&f, are those which expose to no loss or hazard ; real know«> 
ledge and skill in our trade or profession, assiduity and in*- 
Aistry in the exercise of it, finigality, and even some de*^ 
^gne of parsimony, in all our expenses. 

The prudent nan always studies seriously and earnestly 


312 OF THE CHABAGTER fPART TI. 

to understand whatever he professes to understand, and not 
merely to persuade other people that he understands it; 
and though his talents may not always be very brilliant| 
they are always perfectly genuine. He neither endeavourg 
to impose upon you by the cunning devices of an artful im- 
postor, nor by the arrogant airs of an assuming pedant, nor 
by the confident assertions of a superficial and impudent 
pretender : he is not ostentatious even of the abilities which 
he really possesses. His conversation is simple and modest, 
and he is averse to all the quackish arts by which other 
people so frequently thrust themselves into public notice 
and reputation. For reputation in his profession he is na- 
turally disposed to rely a good deal upon the solidity of his 
knowledge and abilities ; and he does not always think of 
cultivating the favour of those little clubs and cabals, who, 
in the superior arts and sciences, so often erect themselves 
into the supreme judges of merit ; and who make it their 
business to celebrate the talents and virtues of one another, 
and to decry whatever can come into competition with 
them. If he ever connects himself with any society of this 
kind, it is merely in self-defence, not with a view to impose 
upon the public, but to hinder the public from being im« 
posed upon, to his disadvantage, by the clamours, the 
whispers, or the intrigues, either of that particular society 
or of some other of the same kind. 

The prudent man is ialways sincere, and feels horror at 
the very thought pf exposing himself to the disgrace which 
attends upon the detection of falsehood. But though always 
sincere, he is not always frank and open ; and though he 
never tells any thing but the truth, he does not always 
think himself bound, when not properly called upon, to 
tell the whole truth* As he is cautious in his actions, so 
he is reserved in his. speech, and never rashly or unneces- 
sarily obtrudes his opinion concerning either things or per- 
sons. 


3BCT. I.] OF VIBTtJE* 8X8 

The pradent man, though not always distinguished. bj 
the most exquisite sensibility, is always very capable of 
friendship. But his friendship is not that ardent and pas- 
sionate but too often transitory affection, which appears so 
delicious to the generosity of youth and inexperience. It is 
a sedate, but steady and faithful attachment to a few well- 
tried and well-chosen companions ; in the choice of whom 
be is not guided by the giddy admiration of shining accom- 
plishments, but by the sober esteem of modesty, discretion, 
and good conduct. But though capable of friendship, he 
is not always much disposed to general sociality. He 
rarely frequents, and more rarely figures in, those conviyial 
societies which are distinguished for the jollity and gaiety 
of their conversation. Their way of life might too often 
interfere with the regularity pf his temperance, might in- 
terrupt the steadiness of his industry, or break in upon the 
atrictness of his frugality. 

But though his conversation may not always be very 
sprightly or diverting, it is always perfectly inoffensive. 
He hates the thought of being guilty of any petulance or 
rudeness ; he never assumes impertinently over any body, 
and, upon all common occasions, is willing to place himself 
rather below than above his equals. Both in his conduct 
and conversation he is an exact observer of decency, and 
respects, with an almost religious scrupulosity, all the esta- 
blished decorums and ceremonials of society. And in this 
respect he sets a much better example than has frequently 
been done by men of much more splendid talents and vir- 
tues — ^who in all ages, from that of Socrates and Aristippus 
down to that of Dr Swift and Voltaire, and from that of Philip 
and Alexander the Great down to that of the great Czar 
Peter of Moscovy, have too often distinguished themselves 
by the most improper and even insolent contempt of all the 
ordinary decorums of life and conversation, and who have 
thereby set the most pernicious example to those who wish 


1114 OF TUB CHARACTER [PABT ISL 

to resemlile them, and who too often eontent thoonihres 
irith imitating their folKes without even attempting to at- 
tain titeir perfections. 

In the steadiness of his industiy and frogality, in ha 
steadily sacrifieing the ease and enjoyment of the present 
moment for the probable expectation of the dtill greater 
ease and enjoyment of a more distant but more lasting 
-period of time, the prudent man is always both Bupported 
and rewarded by the entire approbation of the impartial 
spectator, and of the representative of the impartial spectfr* 
tor, the man within the breast. The impartial specMat 
does not feel himself worn out by the present labour of 
-dtose whose conduct he surveys ; nor does he feel himseif 
solicited by the importunate calls of their present aeppetiUB, 
To him their present, and what is likely to be their fntne 
situation, are very nearly the same : he sees them nearfy 
at the same distance, and is affected by them very nearly 
in the same manner : he knows, however, IhAt to the per- 
sons principally concerned they are very far from being 
the same, and that they naturally affect Mem in a very dif- 
ferent manner. He cannot, therefore, but approve, and 
even applaud, that proper exertion of self-eommand whieh 
enables them to act as if their present and their fntnre 
situation affected them nearly in the same manner in whick 
they affect him. 

The man who lives within his income is natnraBy con- 
tented with his situation, which, by contimial, thoogh snull 
accumulations, is growing better and better every day. 
He is enabled gradually to relax, both in the rigonr of his 
parsimony and in the severity of his a^lication ; and be 
feels with double satisfaction this gradual increase of ease 
und enjoyment, from having felt before the hardship whiei 
attended the want of them. He has no anxiety to cteagt 
-so comfortable a situation, and does not go in quest of 


8BCT. I.] OF VntTVE. 815 

enterprises and adventures, which might endanger, hut 
e<mld not well increase, the secure tranqnillity whidb h% 
actuallj enjoys. If he enters into any new projects or 
enterprises, they are likely to be well concertcKl and well 
prepared. He can never be hurried or driven into them by 
any necessity, but has always time and leisure to deliberate 
' soberly and coolly concerning what are likely to be their 
eonsequences. 

The prudent man is not willing to subject himself to any 
Tesponsibility which his duty does not impose upon him. 
He is not a bustler in business where he has no concern ; 
is not a meddler in other people's afiairs ; is not a professed 
counsellor or adviser, who obtrudes his advice where no*- 
body is asking it : he confines himself, as much as his dulf 
win permit, to his own affairs, and has no taste for that 
foolish importance which many people wish to derive from 
appearing to have some influence in the management of 
those of other people: he is averse to enter into any 
party disputes, hates faction, and is not always very for- 
ward to listen to the voice even of noble and great ambi- 
tion. When distinctly called upon, he will not decline <ii0 
service of his country ; but he will not cabal in order to 
force himself into it, and would be much better pleased 
that the public business were well managed by some odier 
person, than that he himself should have the trouble, and 
incur the responsibility, of managing it. In tbe bottom of 
bis heart he would prefer the undisturbed enjoyment cif 
secure tranquillity, not only to all the vain splendour of 
successful ambition, but to the real and solid gloiy of per- 
forming the greatest and most magnanimous actions. 

Prudence, in short, when directed merely to the care of 
the health, of the fortune, and of tibe rank and reputation 
of the individual, though it is regarded as a most respect- 
able, and even, in some degree, as an amiable and agree<- 


816 OF THE CHARACTER [PART Ylt 

able quality, yet it never is considered as one either of the 
most endearing or of the most ennobling of the virtues* 
It commands a certain cold esteem, but seems not entitled 
to any very ardent love or admiration. 

' Wise and judicious conduct, when directed to greater 
and nobler purposes than the care of the health, the fortune, 
the rank, and reputation, of the individual, is frequently and 
very properly called Prudence. We talk of the prudence 
of the great general, of the great statesman, of the great 
legislator. Prudence is, in all these cases, combined with 
many greater and more splendid virtues ; with valour, with 
extensive and strong benevolence, with a sacred regard to 
the rules of justice, and all these supported by a proper de- 
gree of self-command. This superior prudence, when carried 
to the highest degree of perfection, necessarily supposes 
the art, the talent, and the habit or disposition of acting 
with the most perfect propriety in every possible circum- 
stance and situation. It necessarily supposes the utmost 
perfection of all the intellectual and of all the moral virtueSi 
It is the best head joined to the best heart. It is the most 
perfect wisdom combined with the most perfect virtue. It 
constitutes very nearly the character of the Academical or 
Peripatetic sage, as the inferior prudence does that of the 
Epicurean. 

Mere imprudence, or the mere want of the capacity to 
take care of one's self, is, with the generous and humane, 
the object of compassion ; with those of less delicate senti- 
ments, of neglect, or, at worst, of contempt, but never of 
hatred or indignation. When combined with other vices, 
however, it aggravates in the highest degree the infamy 
and disgrace which would otherwise attend them. The 
artful knave, whose dexterify and address exempt hioii 
though not from strong suspicions, yet from punishment or 
distinct detection, is too often received in the world with 


J 


SECT. I.J OF VIRTUE. 317 

an indulgence wliich he by no means deserves. The awk- 
ward and foolish one, who, for want of this dexterity and 
address, is convicted and brought to punishment^ is the ob« 
jecit of universal hatred, contempt, and derision. In coun- 
tries where great crimes frequently pass unpunished, the 
most atrocious actions become almost familiar, and cease to 
impress the people with that horror which is universally 
felt in countries where an exact administration of justice 
takes place. The injustice is the same in both countries ; 
but the imprudence is often very different. In the latter, 
great crimes are evidently great follies. In the former, 
they are not always considered as such. In Italy, during 
the greater part of the sixteenth century, assassinations, 
murders, and even murders under trust, seem to have been 
almost familiar among the superior ranks of people. Cassar 
Borgia invited four of the little princes in his neighbour- 
hood, who all possessed little sovereignties, and conunand- 
ed little armies of their own, to a friendly conference at 
Senigaglia, where, as soon as they arrived, he put them all 
to death. This infamous action, though certainly not ap- 
proved of even in that age of crimes, seems to have con- 
tributed very little to the discredit, and not in the least to 
the ruin, of the perpetrator. That ruin happened a few 
years after, from causes altogether disconnected with this 
crime. Machiavel — ^not indeed a man of the nicest morality 
even for his own times — was resident, as minister from the 
republic of Florence, at the court of Caesar Borgia, when 
this crime was committed. He gives a very particular ac- 
count of it, and in that pure, elegant, and simple language 
which distinguishes all his writings : he talks of it very 
coolly ; is pleased with the address with which Caesar Borgia 
conducted it ; has much contempt for the dupery and weak- 
ness of the sufferers ; but no compassion for their miserable 
and untimely death ; and no sort of indignation at the cruelty 
and falsehood of their murderer. The violence and injustice 
of great conquerors are often regarded with foolish wonder 


918 OF THB CHARACTER [PASTTL 

and admiration ; those of petty thieves, robbers, and mur* 
deierSy with contempt, hatred, and even horror, upon afl 
occattom. The former, thou^ they are a hundred timefl 
more mischievous and destructive, yet, when succeasfol, 
they often pasa for deeds of the most heroic magnanimity. 
The latter are always viewed with hatred and averuon, is 
the follies as wril as the crimes of the lowest and most 
worthless of mankind. The injustice of the former is cer- 
tainly, at least, as great as that of the latter; but the My 
and imprudence are not near so great A wicked tani 
worthless man of partsoften goes tiirough the world witk 
much mom credit than he deserves. A wicked and worth- 
less fool appears always of all mortals the most hatefiil, 
as well as the most contemptible. As prudence, combined 
with other virtues, constitutes the npblest, so im{»rudeneer 
combined with other vices, constitutes die vilest, of all 
pfrflrn yt iWH. 


v^mm^^^mmfm^^^mm^^^^^i 


U.J owmeruE. 31^ 


SECTION IL 

W THE CHABAGTBB OF THB IKDlYTDVAJsy SO FAR AS IT 
CAN AFFBCT THB HAPPINBSS OF OTHBB PEOPLE. 


l^a^N«^^W^mM^«^k^k^h* 


INTRODUCTION. 

• • 

The character of every individual, so far as it can aSeot 
the happiness of other people, must do so by its disposition 
•itiiar to hurt or to benefit them. 

I^i^r resentment for iajnstiee attempted^ or aetnaily 
eommitted, is the only motiye which, in die e3^s of the 
impartial spectator, can justify onr hurting or disturbing, 
in any respect, the happiness of our neighbour. To do so 
from any other motive is itself a violation of the laws of 
justice, which force ought to be employed either to restrain 
or to punish. The wisdom of every state or commonwealth 
endeavours, as well as it can, to employ the force of the 
society to restrain those who are subject to its authority 
from hurting or disturbing the happiness of one another. 
The rules which it establishes for this purpose constitute 
the civil and criminal law of each particular state or country. 
The principles upon which those rules either are or ought 
to be founded, are the subject of a particular science, of all 
sciences by far the most important, but hitherto, perhaps, 
the least cultivated — ^that of natural jurisprudence ; concern- 
ing which it belongs not to our present subject to enter into 
any detail. A sacred and religious regard not to hurt or 
distn rhy in any respect, the happiness of our neighbour. 


82v OF THE GHAEACTEB [PAST TL 

even in those cases where no law can properly protect him, 
constitutes the character of the perfectly innocent and just 
man ; a character which, when carried to a certain delicacy 
of attention, is always highly respectable and even vene- 
rable for its own sake, and can scarce ever fail to be accom- 
panied with many other virtues — ^with great feeling for other 
people, with great humanity and great benevolence. It is 
a character sufficiently understood, and requires no further 
explanation. In the present section I shall only endeavour 
to explain the foundation of that order which Nature seems 
to have traced out for the distribution of our good offices, 
or for the direction and employment of our very limited 
powers of beneficence; first, towards individuals; and, 
secondly, towards societies. 

The same unerring wisdom, it will be found, which regu* 
lates every other part of her conduct, directs, in this respect 
too, the order of her recommendations ; which are always 
stronger or weaker in proportion as our beneficence is moie 
or less necessary, or can be more or less useful. 




8BCT«n.l OF TIBTUE. S21 


CHAPTER I. 

VfHie Order in which Indmdudls are recommended by Nature 

to our care and attention. 

Eyeby man, aB the Stoics used to say, is first and princi- 
pally recommended to his own care; and every man is 
certainly, in every respect, fitter and abler to take care of 
himself than of any other person. Every man feels his own 
pleasures and his own pains more sensibly than those of 
other people. The former are the original sensations — ^the 
latter the reflected or sympathetic images of those sensa- 
tions. The former may be said to be the substance — ^the 
latter the shadow. 

After himself^ the members of his own family, those who 
usually live in the same house with him, his parents, his 
children, his brothers and sisters, are naturally the objects 
of his wannest affections. < They are naturally and usually 
the persons upon whose happinjess or misery his conduct 
must have the greatest influence. He is more habituated 
to sympathize with them : he knows better how everything 
is likely to affect them, and his sympathy with them is more 
precise and determinate than it can be with the greater 
part of other people. It approaches nearer, in short, to 
what he feels for himself. 

This sympathy, too, and the affections which are founded 
on it, are by nature more strongly directed towards his chil- 
dren than towards his parents, and his tenderness for the for- 
mer seems generally a more active principle than his reve- 
rence and gratitude towards^e latter. In the natural state of 
tilings, it has already been observed, the existence of the child 
lor some time after it comes into the world, depends altogether 

Y 


OF TSB CHARi^TER [bAKT 1H^ 

upon tbe care of the parent ; that of the parent does not 
naturally depend upon the care of the child. In the eje 
of nature, it would seem, a child is a more important oh- 
ject than an old man, and excites A much more lively, as 
well as a much more universal sympathy. It ought to do so. 
Every thing may he expected, or at least hoped, from the 
child. In ordinary cases, very little can he either expected 
€t hoped, from the old man^ The weakness of ehaldhood 
interests the affections ef the most brutal and hasd-heaxt' 
ed. It is only to the virtuouB and humane tibat the infit^ 
Buydea of old age are not the objeeta of contempt and ave^ 
lion. In otdmatj cases an old man dies widiout being mueh 
regretted by any body. SoMxe a child can die withost 
lending asmidar the heart of somebody* 


The earliest friendships, the friendships: which 
rally contracted when the heart is most susceptible of that 
feeling, are those among brothers and sisters. Their good 
agreement, while they remun in the same family, is neoee* 
iaiy for its tranqaiUity and happiness. They are capable of 
giving more pleaanie or pain to one another tiian to the 
greater part of other people. Their situation renders their 
snitual Sjrmpathy of the utmost importance to their commoD 
happiness ; and, by the wisdom of nature, the same sitoa* 
tion, by obliging them, to accommodate to one another, lett* 
ders that sympatiiy more habitual, and thereby more livriji 
more distinct, and more detenninate. 

The children of brothers and sisters are naturally con- 
nected by the friendship which, after separating into diflb- 
rent fisimilies, continues to take place between tiieir parents. I 
Their good agreement improves the enjoyment of that Mend- 
ship — tiieir diseord would disturb it. As they seldom livs 
ki the same family, however, thou^ of more importance to 
one another than to the greater part of other people, tkef 
ase of much less than brothers and sisters. As their mntoel 


J 


JHCT*II«] €»>Y1BT1I£. 4188 

i^rmpatby is less necessary, so it is lesslial^taal, nniri^ ftiiii 
bi^ propifftionably weaker. 

The childi!eii of eousins, being still less Gtooneeted, :$» 
of slill less importaace to one another ; sad the afiiB€li4« 
gradually diminishes as the relation grows more andi «ua« 
eonoie.' 

What is called affection is in reality nothing but hs^ 

bitoal sympathy. Our concena. in the happiness or missij 

oi thorn who are the objects of what we call our affectiooK ; 

our desire to promote the one and to present the othei!^ tie 

flither the actual feeling of that habitual sympathy, or Urn 

necessary ecmsequences of that feeling. Relations beittg 

usually placed in situaticms which naturally create tiojf 

habitual sympathy, it is expected that ft suitable degEe0 -of 

a£^tion should take place among them. We gen^^lly 

find that it actually does take plaee ;*-^we therefore natondly 

ttcpect that it should ; and we are, upon that account^ mm 

shocked when upon any occasion we find that it does ia<Nt 

The general rule is established, thii^ perftims related to 000 

snc^ther in a certun degree ought always to be afieetoi 

towards one another in a certain manner, and tiiat there-is 

always the highest impropriety, and sometimes even^ a ioct 

of impiety, in theiar beinj^ affected in a different maimer.. Jk 

parent without par^tal tenderness, a child devoid of sjl fi]i4 

reverence, appear monsters, the objects, not id hatred only) 

but of horror. 

• ■ ■ • 

• Though in a particular instance the circumstances wbicl]^ 
Qsoally produce thosa natural affections, as they are caUedf 
may by some accident not have taken place, yet xesf^el) 
for the general rule will frequently, in some measure, supply. 
their place, and produce something which, though not slt0<« 
filler the same, may bear, however, a very considesdl^ 
reaemblanee to those affections^ A father is apt t<v.l)e;ltf9l 


L«.^L_. ^UHUJUU 


^324 OF TOE CHABACTEB [PABT TK 

uttftbbed tO: a child who, by some accident, has been sepa- 
rated from him in its infancy, and who does not retora to 
him till it is grown up to manhood. The father is apt to 
feel less paternal tenderness for the child; the child less 
filial reverence for the father. Brothers and sisters, when 
they have been educated in distant countries, are apt to 
feel a similar diminution of affection. With the -dutiM 
and the virtuous, however, respect for the general rule win 
fret[uently produce something which, though by no means 
the same, yet may very much resemble those natural affec- 
tions. Even during the separation, the father and the child, 
the brothers or the sisters, are by no means indifferent to 
one another. They all consider one another as persons to 
and from whom certain affections are due, and they live in 
the hopes of being some time or another in a situation to 
enjoy that friendship which ought naturally to have taken 
place among persons so nearly connected. Till they meet, 
the absent son, the absent brother, are frequently the favou- 
rite son, the favourite brother. They have never offended, 
or, if they have, it is so long ago that the offence is forgot- 
ten as some childish trick not worth the remembering. 
Every account they have heard of one another, if conveyed 
by people of any tolerable good nature, has been in the 
highest degree flattering and favourable. The absent 
son^ the absent brother, is not like other ordinary sons 
and brothers, but an all -perfect son, an all-perfect brother; 
and the most romantic hopes are entertained of the 
happiness to be enjoyed in the friendship- and conver- 
sation of such persons. When they meet, it is often with 
so strong a disposition to conceive that habitual sympathy 
which constitutes the family affection, that they are very apt 
to fancy they have actually conceived it, and to behave to 
one another as if they had. Time and experience, however, 
I am afraid, too frequently undeceive them. Upon a more 
fcmiUar acquaintance, they frequently discover in one another 
huMtHjf humours, and inclinations, different from what Acy 


msmmmmimmmmsmB^immeB^mi 


IBCT. n.] OF TUTUS. 325 

expected, to which, from want of habitual sympathj^ fipm 
want of the real principle and foundation of what is {nvjk 
perly called family affection, they cannot now easily a<^ 
commodate themselyes. They have never lived in the 
situation which almost necessarily forces that easy aecqm- 
modation, and, though they may now be sincer^y ;iea- 
reus to assume it, they have really become inoapableof 
doing so. Their familiar conversation and intercourse soon 
become less pleasing to them, and, upon that account| less 
frequent. They, may continue to live with on^ another in 
the mutual exchange of all essential good offi^ses, and with 
every other external appearance of decent -regard. But 
that cordial satisfaction^ that delicious sympathy, th^t con- 
fidential openncBs and ease, which, naturally, take place in 
the conversation of those who have lived lovtg and fami- 
liarly with otie another, it seldom happens that they can 
completely enjoy. 

It is only, however, with the dutiful «m1. the virtuous 
Hiat the general rule has even this slender authority.. With 
the dissipated, the profligate, and the vain, it is entire!^ 
disregarded. They are so far from respecting it, tiiat they 
seldom talk of it but with the most indecent derision ;• and 
ail early, and long separation of this kind never fails to 
estrange, them most completely from pne another. With 
snch peirsons respect for the general rule can at best pro- 
duce only a cold and affected civility (a very 3lender sem- 
blance of real regard) ; and even this, tl^e slightest offence, 
the smallest opposition of interest, commonly puts an end 
to altogether. 

# 

The education of boys at distant great schools, of young 
men at distant colleges, of young ladies in distant nunne- 
ries and boarding- schoolis, seems in the higher ranks of lifer 
to hxve hurt most essentially the domestic morals, and oflii*- 
aequently the domestic happiness, both of France >it4 


OF ««ffi tmAMMCTEJL [pAXf m, 

fin^snd. Do you wish to edticate your ehUdrea to be 
^hitiM to tbdr par^its, to be kind and affeolioiuite to tinir 
Ibfoftors and sisters? put them under the neoe9Bi!^<if beii^ 
diitiful children, of being kind affsotioiiate bniithers and 
idslers : educate them in your own house. From dieir pa- 
ii00te* bouse they may, with propriety and advasta^ go eat 
«iTeiiy day to attend public schools ; but let th«r. dweffing 
be dways at home. Respect for you must always impeae 
« Tory useful restraint upon their conduet; and vespmt 
lor them may fi^equently impose no useless restraint upoft 
yovn: <mii. Surely no aoquirement which cim possiMy be 
derived from what is called a public education can main 
imy sort of eompensapfcion for what is ahnost certni^ and 
Hfeoessarily lost by it. Domestic education is the inskitntioft 
of nature — ^public odueation the eontrivanoe of man. It 
4» sorely umieeessary to say wbidi is likely to be tibe 
wisest. 

'■ In flOme traigedies and romaneeg we meet with many 
beaittiful and interesting scenes, founded upon what is eall- 
id tfie force of blood, or upon the wonderful afifectioa wlndi 
iiear relations are supposed to conceive for one another, even 
^before they know that they have any such eonnection. Ttim 
Ibree of blood, however, I am afraid, exists nowhere hut in 
tragedies and romanoes. Even in tragedies and romanees 
It is never supposed to take place between any lelatioM 
hut those who are naturally bred up in ^ same house; 
between parents and children, between browns and sdsten. 
To imagine any such mysterious affection between eonsinf — 
or even between aunts or uncles, and nephews or 
would be too ridiculous. 


in pastoral countries, mad in all countrioi wheve 
Mthority of law iiS not alone snffident to give perfect 
iH^^ to every member of the state, all ihe differeat 
itf'At Mune family eonynuxnly ehoooe to li^e m the asi|^ 


'ibonrhbod of one another, llieir associaticti is freqnenfly 
Necessary for^heir eommotf defence. They are all, from the 
iii^iest to the lowest, of more or less importance to one an- 
>oiher. Their concord strengthens their necessary associa- 
iion — ^their discord always weakens, and might destroy it 
Tkey have more intercourse with one another than wilii the 
members of any other tribe. The remotest members of 1^ 
^Nime tribe claim some connexion with one another ; and, 
4rhere aH other circumstances are equal, expect to be treat- 
ed yri^ more distinguished attention than is due to those 
^he have no mioh pretensions. It is not many years ago 
4^at, in the Highlands of Bcotlai^, the chieftain used to con* 
sider the poorest man of his clan as his cousin and relation. 
The same extensive regard to kindred is said to take place 
among tiie Tartars, the Arab?, the Tuikomans, and, I be- 
lieve, among all other nations who are nearly in the same 
state of society in which the S^ots Highlanders were about 
Ihe beginning of idie present century. 

' In commercial countries, where the authority of law is 
always perfectly sufficient to protect the meanest man in 
t2i6 state, the descendants of the same family, having no sucb 
motive for keepng together, naturally separate and disperse, 
as interest or inclination may direct. They soon cease to 
be of importance to one another ; and, in a few generations, 
fiiot only lose all care about one another, but all remembrance 
ef iheir common origin, and of the connection which took 
place among their ancestors. Regard for remote relations 
becomes in every country less and less, according as this 
state of civilization has been longer and more completely 
established. It has been longer and more completely esta- 
blished in England than in Scotland ; and remote relations 
i»e, accordingly, more considered in the latter country than 
in the former, though in this respect the d]£ference between 
tiie^wo countries is growing less and less every day. Great 
kords, indeed, are in every country proud of remembering 


BM OF THE CmASACTEB [fABT TL 

and acknowled^g their, eonneetion with one another, how- 
ever remote. The remembrance of such iUostrious relations 
flatters not a little the family pride of them all ; and it is 
neither from affection, nor from any thing which resembles 
affection, but from the most fnvolous and childish of all 
vanities, that this remembrance is so carefully kept up. 
Should some more humble, though, perhaps, much nearer, 
kinsman presume to put sueh great men in. mind of his 
relation to their family, they seldom fail to tell him that 
they are bad genealogists, and miserably ill4nformed con« 
ceming their own family history. It is not in that order, I 
jna afraid, that we are to expect any extraordinary extension 
of what is called natural affection. 

I consider what is called natural affection as more the 
effect of the moral than of the supposed physical connection 
between the parent and the child. . A jealous husband, in* 
deed, notwithstanding the moral connection, notwithstand* 
ing the child^s having been educated in his own house, often 
regards with hatred and aversion that unhappy child which 
he supposes to be the offspring of his wife-s infidelity. It 
is the. lasting monument of a most disagreeable adven* 
ture — of his own dishonour, and of the disgrace of his 
family. ^ 

Among weU-disposed people the necessity or conveniency 
of mutual accommodation very frequently produces a friend* 
ship not unlike that which, takes place among those who 
are bom to live in the same family. Colleagues in office, 
partners in trade, call one another brothers, and frequently 
feel towards one another as if they really were. so. Their 
good agreement is an advantage to all ; and, if they are 
tolerably, reasonable people, they are naturally disposed tft 
agree. We expect that they should do so ; and dieir dis- 
agreement is a sort of a small scandal. The Romans express* 
ed this sort of attachment by the word necessitudo^ which^ 


8XCT. U.] OF TIRTUE. 329 

from the etymology, seemis to denote that it was imposed by 
the necessity of the situation. 

Even the trifling circumstance of living in the same 
neighbourhood has some effect of the same kind« We re- 
spect the face of a man whom we see every day, provided 
he has never offended us. Neighbours can be very con- 
venient, and they can be very troublesome, to one another. 
If they are good sort of people, they are naturally disposed 
to agree. We expect their good agreement; and. to be a 
bad neighbour is a veiy bad character. There' are certain 
small good offices, accordin^y, which are universally al- 
lowed to be due to a neighbour in preference to any other 
person who has no such connection. 

This natural disposition to accommodate and to assimilate, 
as much as we can, our own sentiments, principles, and feel- 
mgs, to those which we see fixed and rooted in the persons 
whom we are obliged to live and converse a great deal with, 
is the cause of the contagious effects of both good and bad; 
company. The man who associates chiefly with the wise 
and the virtuous, though he may not himself become either 
wise or virtuous, cannot help conceiving a certain respect, 
at least, for wisdom and virtue ; and the man Who associ- 
ates chiefly with the profligate and the dissolute, though he 
may not himself become proflfgate and dissolute, must soon 
lose at least all his original abhorrence of profligacy and 
dissolution of manners. , The similarity of family charac- 
ters, which we so frequently see transmitted through several 
successive generations, may, perhaps, be partly owing to 
this disposition, to assimilate ourselves to those whom we 
£^:e obliged to live and converse a great deaV with. . The- 
fetmily character, however, like the family countenance,' 
seems to be owing not altogether to the moral but partly' 
too to the physical connection. The family countenance ia 
certainly alt'>gether owing to the latter. 


OB Offi O&ABjyCTEB [PABT m. 

^ But 0f JH attoclmientB to an indiYidoa], ^at whidi ia 
founded altogether upon esteem and approibatioa of bia 
good conduct and behaviour, confirmed b^ much experience 
andiong acqaantotce, is by far the most reqweciable. Such 
fidendshipa, adsn^ not £rom a constraiaed gympathy, not 
from a syn^thy which has been aMumed and lenderad 
habitftal for liie sake of ccmTenienee and aecommodatioBy 
but from a JiaturaL sympathy, from an invduntary feeling 
tint the pcTBons to whom we attadi oureelves ase tiie natoh 
zal and proper objects of esteem and i^probation, can exirt 
anly among men of .virtue. Men of vistiiB only can feel 
that entile conMsnoe in the conduct and beluKviour of torn 
another, which can at all times asflore them that they om 
never either offend or be offended l>y one another. Vice 
is always capricious — ^virtue only is regular and orderly. The 
^ttachniept which is founded i^n the love of virtiie, as it 
is certainly of all attachments the most vktuoos, so it is 
Mkewise tiie happiest, as well as the mfost petmaneDt aad 
secure. :Saeii f dendahipB need not be confined to a sin^ 
person, but may safely embrace aH the wise and virtnons 
with whom we have been long <and intioiately acqnaisted, 
and upon whose wisdom andrvirtue we >can upon that ae- 
oonnt entirely depend. They who would confine fiaend^* 
ship to two persons, seem to ccmfound the wise security of 
friendship with the jealousy and folly of love. The hastf, 
fond, and foolish intimacies of young people, founded com- 
monly upon some i^ight similarity of diaraeter altogetiber 
unconnected with good conduct, la^poA a taste, perhaps, 
for the same studies, the same anrusements, the same di- 
versionff, or upon their agreement in some singular prin- 
ciple or opinion not commonly adopted ; those intimadef 
which a freak begins, and which a ireak puts an end to^ 
how agreeable soever they may appear while tiiey last, cia 
by no meanis deserve the sacred and venerable name of 
Mendisdap. 


>. IlJ : <m TISVUE* 8tl 


.Of all fhe perscnaB, howeTec, mham aatare pointB out for 
oar pecvltar beneficejiee, ihere are nose to whom it seemi 
more properly dineted thm to thoee whose beneficeace we 
have oarselves already experieaced. Nature, which form* 
ed men for that matual kmdness so necessary for their 
happiness, renders every man tiie peculiar object of kind* 
ness to the persooB to whom he himself has been kind: 
Thov^ their grsfstnde sfaooid not always correspond to big 
beneficenoe, yet Ae sense of his merit, the sympatheti« 
gr aliiad e of tiie impartiai lE^ectator, will always correspond 
to it. The genecal ihdigiiation of other people against tiM 
baseness of their ingratitiide will even sometimes increase 
the general senoae of his merit.' No benevolent man ever 
hat alto^ther l^e fruits of his bavevolenee. If he does 
not always gather them from Ihe persons from whom km 
ought to have gathered them, he seldom -fails to gathor 
them, and with a tenfold increase, from other people. Kind- 
ness is iiie parent of kindness ; and if to be beloved by our 
hretiiren be ^ks §^8t object of our ambition, the surest way 
of Obtaining it u^ by our conduct to shew that we really 
love Ihem. 

After the p^sons who are reeommeoded to o«r beno* 
fieence, either by their connection with oanelves, by their 
personal qualities, or by their past services, come those who 
axe pointed out, net indeed to what is called our friend- 
ahip, but to our benevolent attention and good offices; 
those who are distinguished by their extraordinary situa- 
tion — the greatly fortunate and the gready unfortunate, the 
rich and the poweiful, the poor and the wretched. The dis* 
taaction of rai^s, tiie peace and order of society, are in a 
great measure founded upon the respect which we natu- 
rally conceive for the former. The relief and consolation 
of human misery depend altogether upon our compassion 
for the latter, l^e peace and order of society is of mora 
ixiportano^ than ^ven- the relief of th^ miserable. Oalr le^ 


983 07 THE CBABACTEB TpAKT TL 

speet for the great, accordingly, is most apt to offend by its 
excess— our fellow-feeling for the miserable, by its defect 
Moralists exhort us to charity and compassion. They warn 
us against the fascination of greatness. This fascinatiob, 
indeed, is so powerful, that the rich and the great are too 
often preferred to the wise and the virtuous. Nature has 
wisely judged that the distinction of ranks, the peace and 
order of society, would rest more 'securely uppn the plun 
and palpable difference of birth and fortune, than upon the 
invisible and often uncertain difference of ] wisdom and vir- 
^e. The undistinguishing eyes of the great mob of man- 
kind can well enough perceive the former : it is with diffi- 
culty that the nice discernment of the wise and the virtuous 
can sometimes distinguish the latter. In the order of all 
those recommendations, the benevolent wisdom of nature is 
equally evident. 

. It may, perhaps, . be unnecessary to observe, that the 
combination of two, or more, of those exciting causes <tf 
kindness, increases the kindness. The &vour and partiality 
which, when there is no envy in the case, we naturaUy bear 
to greatness, are much increased when it is joined with wis- 
dom and virtue. If, notwithstanding that wisdom and vir- 
tue, the great man should fall into those misfortunes, those 
dangers and distresses, to which the most exalted stations 
are often the most exposed, we are much more deeply in- 
terested in his fortune than we should be in that of a per- 
son equally virtuous, but in a more humble situation. The 
most interesting subjects of tragedies and romances are the 
misfortunes of virtuous and magnanimous kings and princes. 
If by the wisdom and manhood of their exertions they 
should extricate themselves from those misfortunes, and re- 
cover completely their former superiority and security, we 
cannot help viewing them with the most enthusiastie and 
even extravagant admiration. The grief whiph wei felt for 
their distress, the joy which we feel for their prosperity,' 


8BCIT* n.] OF VIBTUE. 

seem to combine together in enbancing that partial admira- 
tion which we naturally conceive both for the station lind 
the character. 

When those different beneficent affections happen to 
draw different ways, to determine by any precise rules in 
what cases we ought to comply with the one, and in what 
with the other, is perhaps altogether impossible. In what 
cases fiiendship ought to yield to gratitude, or gratitude to 
friendship — ^in what cases the strongest of all natural affec- 
tions ought to yield to a regard forthe safety of those supe-^ 
riors upon whose safety often depends that of the whole 
society — and in what cases natural affection may, without 
impropriety, prevail over that regard — ^must be left alto- 
gether to the decision of the man within the breast, the 
supposed impartial spectator, the great judge and arbiter of 
our conduct. If we place ourselves completely in his situa- 
tion, if we really view ourselves with his eyes and as he 
views us, and listen with diligent and reverential attention 
to what he suggests to us, his voice will never deceive us. 
We shall stand in need of no casuistic rules to direct our 
conduct. These it is often impossible to accommodate to 
all the different shades and gradations of circumstance, 
character, and situation, to differences and distinctions 
which, though not imperceptible, are, by their nicety and 
delicacy, often altogether undefinable. In that beautiful 
tragedy of Voltaire, The Orphan of China, while we admire 
the magnanimity of Zamti, who is willing to sacrifice the 
life of his own child in order to preserve that of the only 
feeble remnant of his ancient sovereigns and masters, we 
not only pardon but love the maternal tenderness of Idame, 
who, at the risk of discovering the important secret of her 
husband, reclaims her infant from the cruel hands of the 
Tartars, into whioh it had been delivered. 


Ili^ OF l^Sm GHABACTBR [P^AT li. 


CHAPTER IL 

Of the ordesr in which Societies are hy nature recommended t$ 

our Beneficence,. 

The same principles that direct the order in wliich indi- 
viduals are recommended to our beneficence, direct thai 
^likewise in which societies are recommended to it. Those 
to which it is, or may be of most importance, are first and 
principally recommended to it. 

The state or sovereignty in which we have been bom 
and educated, and under the protection of which we conti- 
nue to live, is, in ordinary eases, the greatest society upon 
whose happiness or misery our good or bad conduct caa 
have much influence. It is accordingly by nature moet 
strongly recommended to us. Not only we ourselves, but 
all the objects of our kindest afiections^ our children, our 
parents, our relations, our friends, our benefactors, all those 
whom we naturally love and revere the most, are commonlj 
comprehended within it ; and their prosperity and safe^ 
depend, in some measure, upon its prosperity and safety. It 
is by nature, therefore, endeared to us, not only by all our 
selfish, but by all our private benevolent affections. Upon 
account of our own connection with it, its prosperity and 
glory seem to reflect some sort of hcmour upon ourselveai 
When we compare it with other societies of the same kind, 
we are proud of its superiority, and mortified, in some de- 
gree, if it appears in any respect below them. AH the illus- 
trious characters which it has produced in former times (for 
against those of our own times envy may sometimes prejo* 
dice us a little), its warriors, its statesmen, its poets, its 
philosophers, and men of letters of all kinds, we are disposed 


to view with the most pfortial admiraitio%> aBd to naik 
them (sometimes most unja8tl7) above those of ail other 
nations. The patriot who lays down his life for the safety, 
or even for the T^inglory of this society, appears to aet 
with the most exaet propriety. He appears to view him- 
self in tibe light in which tiie impartial spectator naturally 
and necessarily views him, as hnt one of the multitude, im 
the eye of that equitable judge, of no more eonseqnenee 
than any oUier in it, but bound at all times to sacrifice and 
devote himself to the safety, to the service, and even to the 
glory, of the greater number. But though tbis aacrifiee 
appears to be perfeciiy just and proper, wo know how diflkr 
Golt it is to make it, and how few pe<^le axe «^^ble of 
making it. His conduct, therefore,, excateis not only cm: 
entire a^proba^a^ but our highest wonder and admiration^ 
and seems to merit all the applause which can bB due tt 
the most heroie virtue*^ Tha- traitor, cm the.conlarary, whoy 
in some peculiar situation,, feneies he can promote his own 
little interest by betcaying to l^e public enemy that, of his 
native country ; who,, regardless of the judgment of &e man 
mi&iiL the breast, pre^us himself, in this respect^ so shame*- 
fidly and so basely, ta all those with whom he has any couf 
nection^ i^pfwars to be of all villains the most detestablie. - 

The love of our own nation o£ben disposes us to vieiv| 
villi the most malignant jealousy and envy, the prosperily 
and aggrandisement of any oUber neighbouring nation. Im 
d^endent and nei^diouidng. naticms, having no common 
supemoKto decide their disputes, aU live in continual dread 
and suspicion of one another. Each sovereign, expecting 
little ju^iee. from his neighbours, is disposed to treat them 
with as little as he expeots from them. The regard for the 
laws of nations, or for those rules which independent states 
profess or pretend to think themselves bound to observe in 
their dealings with one another, is often very little more 
than mere preftenoe and profession. Frcon the amallest-in- 


SK OF THE CHABACTEB [PAST TI, 

terest, upon ihe sligfatest provocation, we see those rales 
every day either evaded or directly violated without shame 
or remorse. Each nation foresees, or imagines it foresees, 
its own subjugation in the increasing power and aggrandise- 
ment of any of its neighbours ; and the mean principle of 
national prejudice is often founded upon the noble one of 
the love of our own country. The sentence with which the 
elder Gato is said to have concluded every speech which he 
made in the senate, whatever might be the subject, *^ It it 
my opmoHj Ukewisej that^Carthage ought to be destroyed," 
was the natural expression of the savage patriotism of a 
strong but coarse mind, enraged almost to madness against 
a foreign nation from which his own had suffered so much, 
^e more humane sentence with which Scipio Nasicais said 
to have concluded all his speeches, '' It is my opinionj Uk^ 
iffisej that Cdrihage ought not to he destroyed,^* was the liberal 
expression of a more enlarged and enlightened mind, who 
felt no aversion to the prosperity even of an old enemy, 
when reduced to a state which could no longer be formid- 
able to Rome* France and England may each of them 
have some reason to dread the increase of the naval and 
military power of the other ; but for either of them to envy 
the internal hiippiness and prosperity of the other, the cul- 
tivation of its lands, the advancement of its manufiBustuies, 
the increase of its commerce, the security and number of 
its ports Iknd harbours, its proficiency in all the liberal arts 
and sciences, is surely beneath the dignity of two such great 
nations. These are the real improvements of the worid we 
live in. Mankind are benefited, human nature is ennobled 
by them. In such improvements each nation ought not 
only to endeavour itself to excel, but, from the love of man- 
kind, to promote, instead of obstracting, the excellence of 
its neighbours. These are all proper objects of nati<Hial 
emulation, not of national prejudice or envy. 

The love of our own country seems not to be derived 


.SISGT.n.] • OFVIBTUE; '337 

from the love of mankind. ' The former sentiment is alto- 
gether independent of the latter/ and seems sometimes eveli 
to dispose us to act inconsistently vrith it. France may 
contain, perhaps, near three times the number of inhabitants 
which Great Britain contains. In the great society of man- 
kind, therefore, the prosperity of France should appear to 
be an object of much greater importance than that of Great 
Britain. The British subject, however, who upon that ac- 
count should prefer upon all occasions the prosperity of the 
former to that of the latter country, would not be thought a 
good citizen of Great Britain. We do not love our country 
merely as a part of the great society of mankind^— we love 
it for its own sake, and independently of any such consi- 
deration. That wisdom which contrived the system of hu- 
man affections, as well as that of every other part of nature, 
jseems to have judged that the interest of the great society 
of mankind would be best promoted by directing the prin- 
cipal attention of each individual to that particular portion 
of it which was most within the sphere both of his abilities 
and of his understanding. 

National prejudices and hatreds seldom extend beyond 
neighbouring nations. We very weakly and foolishly, per- 
iiaps, call the French our natural enemies ; and they, per- 
btaps, as weakly and foolishly consider us in the same man- 
aer. Neither they nor we bear any sort of envy to the 
prosperity of China or Japan. It very rarely happens, how- 
ever, that our good-will towards such distant countries can 
be exerted with much effect. 

The most extensive public benevolence which can com- 
monly be exerted with any considerable effect is that of the 
statesmen, who project and form alliances among neigh- 
bonring or not very distant nations, for the preservation 
either of what is called the balance of power, or of the 
general peace and tranquillity of the states withiui the circle 

z 


MB OF THE. OBABAOTEB [VAJtr ft 

ef their negotitttions. Hie statesmen, howerer, who pfam 
and execute sudi trestteSy have wMom any thing in vievr 
'bat the interest of their respeetiye coimtiies. SometiiDes, 
indeed, their vieirs are more extensive. The Ccnnit d' Avanx^ 
ihe plenipotentiary of France, at the treatj of Minster, 
wcndd hiiye been wiUuig to sacrifioe his life (aecordiiig to 
th^ Cardinal deRetz, a man not overwaredolons in the vktoe 
i|f ether people), in order to have restened, hf that treaty, 
the general tranquillity of Eiorope. King WiUiam seeois 
to have had a real seal for the liberty and independency of 
the greater pact of tiie sovereign states of £nrope ; ^vvine^ 
fmbaps, might be a good deal stimulated by his partienlar 
aversion to Franee, Hhe stadie from which, daring bis time^ 
that liberty and indapendeney were principally in dangeTi 
Some «hare of tibe same spirit seems to have descended ie 
4lw first mtniatty of QseBn Anne. 

Every independent ctaite is divided into many different 
(Osders and societies, eudi of ivfaich has its own particulv 
powers, privileges, and immnnities. £very individual ii 
naturally more attached to his own particular order or so- 
vaety dian to any «ther. Sob own interest, his own vanity, 
ibe interest and vanity of many of his ^ends and oompa* 
aions, are commonly a good deal cannected witb it : be u 
ambitioos to extend its privileges and smmunities — ^fae if 
ssalous to defend them against the BncroacSmwnts of eveiy 
o&er order or seciety. 

Upon the manner in which any state is divided into the 
different orders and societies which compose it, and upon 
the particular distribution which has been made of their re- 
spective powers, privileges, and immunities, depends what 
is «called the constituiaDn of that particular state. 

Upon the ability of each particular order or soeietf to 
SMintain its own powers, privileges, and imuninitie% 


aacT* n.]' of tistub. 309 

liie encroftclimeitts of every other, depends the stability df 
that particulair constitation. That particular constitution is 
necessarily more or less altered, whenever any of its subor- 
dinate parts is either raised above or depressed below what- 
ever had been its former rank and condition. . 

All those different orders and Bodettes are dependent 
upon the state to which they owe their secnrity and protec- 
tion. That they are all subordinate to that state, and esta- 
bMshed only in subserviency to its prosperity and preserva- 
tion, is a tmih acknowledged by the most partial member 
of every one of them. It may o£ten, however, be hard to 
eonvince him Hiat the prosperity and preservation of the 
state require any diminution of the powers, privileges, and 
imnranities of his own particular order or society* This 
partiality, though it may sometimes be unjust, may not 
upon that account be useless. It checks the spirit of in- 
novation. It tends to preserve whatever is the established 
balance among the different orders and societies into which 
the state is divided ; and while it sometimes appears to 
obstruct some alterations of government which may be 
&8hionable and popular at the time, it contributes in reality 
to the stability and permanency of the whole system. 

l^e love of our country seenus, in ordinary cases, to 
involve in it two different princi{de8 ; first, a certain respect 
md reverence for that constitution or form of government 
which is actually established ; and, secondly, an earnest 
desire to render the condition of our feUow-citizens as safe, 
respectable, and happy as we can. He is not a citizen who 
is not disposed to respect the laws and to obey the civil 
magistrate ; and he is certainly not a good citizen who does 
not wish to promote, by every means in hi^^power, the 
wel&ro of tiie whole society of his fellow- citizens.^' t\ 

]^ peaceable and quiet times those two principles geoo- 


340 OF THE CHABA«TER [PABT YL 

rally coincide and lead to the same conduct The su{^rt 
of the established government seems evidently the best 
expedient for maintaining the safe, respectable^ and happy 
situation of our fellow-citizens — ^when we see that this> 
government actually maintains them in that situation. But 
in times of public discontent, faction, and disorder, those 
two different principles may draw different ways, and even 
a wise man maybe disposed to think some alteration neces- 
sary in that constitution or form of government which, in 
its actual condition, appears plainly unable to maintain the 
public tranquillity. In such cases, however, it often re* 
quires, perhaps, the highest effort of political wisdom to 
determine when a real patriot ought to support and en-, 
deavour to re-establish the authority of the old system, and 
when he ought to give way to the more daring^ but oftea 
dangerous, spirit of innovation. 

Foreign war and civil faction are the two situations which 
afford the most splendid opportunities for the display of 
public spirit. The hero who serves his country successfully 
in foreign war gratifies the wishes of the whole nation, and 
is upon that account the object of universal gratitude and 
admiration. In times of civil discord the leaders of the 
contending parties, though they may be admired by one- 
half of their fellow-citizens, are commonly execrated by the 
other. Their characters, and the merit of their respective 
services, appear commonly more doubtfuL The glory which 
is acquired by foreign war is, upon this account, almost 
always more pure and more splendid than that which can 
be acquired in civil faction. 

' The leader of the successful party, however, if he has 
authority (Cnough to prevail upon his own friends to act 
with proper temper and moderation (which he firequently 
has not), may sometimes render to his country a service 
much moro essential and important than the greatest victo- 


mmasssmma^^mimmmm'^'mBSis^mmm'i^simamtssm^Ki 


SECT, n.] •OF VIRTUE. 341 

ries and the most extensive conquests. He ma^ re-establish 
and improve the constitution, and from the very doubtful 
and ambiguous character of the leader of a party, he may 
assume the greatest and noblest of all characters, that of 
the reformer and legislator of a great state ; and, by the 
-wisdom of his institutions, secure the internal tranquillity 
and happiness of his fellow-citizens for many succeeding 
generations. 

Amidst the turbulence and disorder of faction, a certain 
spirit of system is apt to mix itself with that public spirit 
which is founded upon the love of humanity, upon a real 
fellow-feeling with the inconveniencies and distresses to 
vrhich some of our fellow-citizens may be exposed. ' This 
spirit of system commonly takes the direction of that more 
gentle public spirit, always animates it, and often inflames 
it, even to the madness of fanaticism. The leaders of the 
discontented party seldom fail to hold out some plausible 
plan of reformation, which, they pretend, will not only re- 
move the inconveAiencies and relieve the distresses im* 
mediately complained' of, but will prevent in all time com- 
ing any return of the like inconveniencies and distresses. 
They often propose, upon this account, to new-model the 
constitution, and to alter in some of its most essential parts 
4:Lat system of government under which the subjects of a 
great empire have enjoyed, perhaps, peace, security, and 
even glory, during the course of several centuries together. 
The great body of the party are commonly intoxicated with 
the imaginary beauty of this ideal system, of which they 
liave no experience, but which has been represented to 
them in all the most dazzling colours in which the eloquence 
of their leaders could paint it. Those leaders themselves, 
though they originally may have meant nothing but their 
own aggrandizement, become, many of them, in time th^ 
dupes of their own sophistry, and are as eager for this great 
teformation as die weakest and foolisbest of their followers. 


Stt OF THB CHARAQTEB j^PART YL 

Even Aongk the leadecs should have preserved their own 
heads, aa^ indeed, they commonlj do, free from this fana- 
ticism, yet they dare not always disappoint the expectation 
of their foUowers, but are often obliged, though contrary to 
their principle and tiieir c(macience, to act as if. they were 
under the common delusion. The violence of the party 
zidiising all paUiatives^ all temperaments, all reasonable ac- 
commodations, by requiring too much, frequently obtains 
nothing ; and those inconveniencies and distresses which, 
with a little moderation, might, in a great measure, have 
been removed and relieved, are 1^ altogether withoat the 
hope of a remedy. 

The man whose public spirit is prompted altogether hj 
humanity and benevolence, will respect the established 
powers and privileges even of individuals, and still more 
those of the great orders and societies into which the state 
is divided. Though he should consider some of them as 
in some measure abusive, he will content himself with 
moderating, what he often cannot annihilate withoat greit 
violence. When he cannot conquer tiie rooted, prejudicat 
of the people by reason and persuasion, he will not attemft 
to subdue them by force, but will religiously observe what 
by Cicero is justly called the divine maxim of Plato, never 
to use violence to his country, no more than to his parenla 
He will accommodate, as well as he oan, his public arrange* 
ments to the confirmed habits and prejudices of the peo]^ 
and will remedy, as well as. he can, the inconveniencies 
which may flow from the want of those regulations whieh 
the people are averse to submit to.. When he cannot estir 
blish the right, he will not disdain to ameliorate the wrongs 
but, like Solon, when he cannot (establish the best system 
•of laws, he wiU endeavour to establish the best Aattiie 
people can bear. 

The man of system, on the contrary, is apt to be 


wiae in bis own ooneeity and is ofiteA bA- «ii«nouTed 'wUh 
the sappoged beauty of ki» owa ideai plan of goyenuneBt, 
that he cannot sufiEer the smalleat deviation from any part of 
it. He goes on toeatablish it completely and in all its parte, 
without any regard eitho: to the great interests or to iher 
strong prejudices which may oppose k : he seems to imagtaa 
that he can arrange the di£G3rent members of a great soekty 
with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieeea 
upon a chess-board ; he does noi consider that the pieoM 
upon the cbess^board have no other principle of moiiea 
besides that which tha hand impresses upon them ; but that^ 
in the great chess-board of human society, every sing^ 
piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether dif- 
ferent from that which the legislature might choose to im- 
press upon it. If those two principles coincide and act in 
the same direction, the game of human society will go on 
easily and harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy 
and successful. If they are opposite or different, the game 
will go on miserably, and the society must be at all times 
in the highest degree of disorder. 

Some general, and even systematical, idea of the perfection 
of policy and law, may no doubt be necessary for directing the 
idews of the statesman. But to insist upon establishing, and 
upon establishing all at once, and in spite of all opposition, 
every thing which that idea may seem to require, must ofiten 
be the highest degree of arrogance. It is to erect his own 
judgment into the supreme standard of right and wrong. 
It is to fancy himself the only wise and worthy man in the 
commonwealth, and that his fellow-citizens should accommo- 
date themselves to him, and not he to them. It is upon 
this account that of all political speculators sovereign 
princes are by far the most dangerous. This arrogance is 
perfectly familiar to them. They entertain no doubt of the 
immense superiority of their own judgment. When such 
imperial and royal reformers, therefore, condescend to con- 


344 OF THE CHABACTEB [PART YI. 

template the constitution of the country which is committed 
to their government, they seldom see any thing so wrong 
in it as the obstructions which it may sometimes oppose to 
the execution of their own will. They hold in contempt the 
divine maxim of Plato, and consider the state as made for 
themselves, not themselves for the state. The great object 
of their reformation, therefore, is to remove those obstruc- 
tions — ^to reduce the authority of the nobility — to take away 
the privileges of cities and provinces, and to render both 
the greatest individuals and the greatest orders of the state 
ad iticapable of opposing their commands as the weakest 
atid most insignificant. 


sscT.n.] OF yiRTUE« 845 


CHAPTER III. 

Cf universal Benevolence, 

Though clur effectual good offices can very seldom be ex- 
tended to any wider society than that of our own country, 
our good wiU is circumscribed by no boundary, but may 
embrace the immensity of the universe. We cannot form 
tiie idea of any innocent and sensible being whose happi- 
ness we should not desire, or to whose misery, when dis- 
tinctly brought home to the imagination, we should not have 
some degree of aversion. The idea of a mischievous, though 
sensible being, indeed naturally provokes our hatred ; but 
the ill-will which in this case we bear to it is really the 
effect of our universal benevolence. It is the effect of the 
sympathy which we feel with the misery and resentment of 
those other innocent and sensible beings whose happiness 
is disturbed by its malice. 

This universal benevolence, how noble and generous so- 
ever, can be the source of no solid happiness to any man 
who is not thoroughly convinced that all the inhabitants of 
the universe, the meanest as well as the greatest, are under 
the immediaite care and protection of that great, benevolent, 
and all- wise Being, who directs all the movements of nature, 
and who is determined, by his own unalterable perfections, 
to maintain in it at all times the greatest possible quantity 
of happiness. To this universal benevolence, on the con- 
trary, the very suspicion of a fatherless world must be the 
most melancholy of all reflections ; from the thought that 
all the unknown regions of infinite and incomprehensible 
apace may be filled with nothing but endless misery and 

wretchedness. All the splendour of the highest prosperity 

p2 


346 OF THE. CHABACTER [PAST XL 

can never enlighten the gloom with which so dreadful an 
idea must necessarily overshadow the imagination ; nor, in 
a wise and virtuous man, can all the sorrow of the most 
afflicting adversity ever dry up the joy which necessarily 
springs from the habitual and thorough conviction of the 
truth of the contrary system. 

The wise and virtoous man is at all times wffiing diat 
his own private interest should be sacrificed to the ^blie 
interest of his own particular order or society, fie is at 
all times willing, too, that the interest, of this order or 
society should be sacrificed to the gceater i&tetest of tkt 
stftte or sovereignty of which it is only & subordinate pasi i 
he should, tiber^ore, be equally willing that aUi &ob« inferior 
interests should be saerifieed to the gxeataar xotssest of dn» 
universe^ to the interest of that great society of all sensiUfr 
and intelligent beings, of which God himself is the imme* 
diate administrator and dizector. If he isr deeply impressed 
with the habitual and thorough convietiovt&ttlithisbenevo* 
font «ad all^wise Being can adnit into tbe system of his 
government no partial evil which is not neoesaasy for the 
universal good, he must consider all the misfortunes which 
mi^ be&M himself, his frirads, his soebtyy oshlft eountry, 
as necessary for ih.e prosperity of the umv^naB, and, thers* 
fbre, as what he ought not only to submit to with lesign*- 
tion, but as what he himself if he had knosm aU the eon- 
nections and dependencies of things, ought : sincerely aod 
devoutly to have wished, for. 

- Nor does this magnanimous resignaticni to the will of 
the great Director of the universe seem in. any iics pcet 
beyond the reach of human nature. Groed soldisKs, wke 
Wth love and trust their general, frequently mateh with moaDS 
gaiety and alacrity to the forlorn station^ from which iJMff 
fiever expect to return, than Ihey would to <me where tiiffii 
was neither diffieulty nov danger. la macdiing to tliA lattai^ 


il] of tibtub. 347 

&67 could feel no other sentiment iKuut that of the dulnesa 
of ofdinary duty — in marching to the former, they feel thai 
they are making the noblest exertion which it ia posaible for 
man to make. They know that their general would not 
have ordered them upon this station had it not been no^ 
cessary for the safety of the army, for the- snccesa of the 
war : they cheerfully sacrifice their own little systems to the 
prosperity of a greater system : they take an afibctionate 
leaye of their comrades, to whom they wish all happiness 
and success, and march out, not only with submissive obe- 
dience, but often with shouts of the most joyful exultation, 
to that fatal but spl^idid and honourable station to which 
ihey are appointed. No conductor of any army can deserve 
more unlimited trust, more ardent and zealous affection, 
tiian the great Conductor of the universe. In the greatest 
public as well as private disasters, a wise man ought to con* 
eider that he himself, his friends and countrymen, have only 
been ordered upon the forlorn station of the universe ; that 
liad it not been necessary for the good of the whole, thej 
would not have been so ordered ; and that it is their duty; 
not only with humble resignation to submit to this aUotr 
ment, but to endeavour to embrace it with alacrity and joji^ 
A wise man should surely be capable of doing what a good 
soldier holds himself at all times in readiness to do^ 

• 

The idea of that divine Being, whose benevolence and 
wisdom have from all eternity contrived and conducted the 
immense machine of the universe so as at all times to pro- 
duce the greatest possible quantity of happiness, is certainly, 
of all the objects of human contemplation, by far the most 
sublime. Every other thought necessarily appears mean in 
the comparison. The man whom we believe to be princi- 
pally occupied in this sublime contemplation, seldom fails 
to be the object of our highest veneration ; and though his 
life should be altogether contemplative, we often regard him 
with a sort of religious respect, much superior to Ihat with 


348 OF THE CHABACTER [PART TX. 

irbich we look upon the most active and useful servant of 
the commonwealth. The meditations of Marcus Antoninus, 
which turn principally upon this subject, have contributed 
more, perhaps, to the general admiration of his character 
than all the different transactions of his just, merciful, and 
beneficent reign. 

The administration of the great system of the universe, 
however, the care of the universal happiness of all rational 
and sensible beings, is the business of God, and not of 
man. To man is allotted a much humbler department, but 
one much more suitable to the weakness of hb powers, and 
to the narrowness of his comprehension — ^the care of his 
own happiness, of that of his family, his friends, his country ; 
that he is occupied in contemplating the more sublime, can 
never be an excuse for his neglecting the more humble de* 
partment ; and he must not expose himself to the charge 
which Avidius Cassius is said to have brought, perhaps im< 
justly, against Marcus Antoninus, that while he employed 
himself in philosophical speculations, and contemplated the 
prosperity of the universe, he neglected that of the Roman 
empire. The most sublime speculation of the contempla* 
live philosopher can scarce compensate the neglect of the 
smallest active duty. 


BBCT.IIlJ OFVUtTUE. '^9 


SECTION III. 


OF SELF-COMMAND. 


The man who acts according to the rules of perfect pru- 
dence, of strict justice, and of proper benevolence, maybe 
said to be perfectly virtuous. But the most perfect know« 
ledge of. those rules will not alone enable him to act in 
this manner ; his own passions are very apt to mislead him 
— ^sometimes to drive him, and sometimes to seduce him, to 
violate all the rules which he himself, in all his sober and 
cool hom's, approves of. The most perfect knowledge, if it 
is not supported by the most perfect 8elf-command| will not 
always enable him to do his duty. 

4 ■ 

Some of the best of the ancient moralists seem to have con- 
sidered those passions as divided into two different classes ; 
first, into those which it requires a considerable exertion 
of self-command to restrain even for a single moment ; and^ 
secondly,. into those which it is easy to restrain for a single 
moment, or even for a short period of time ; but which, by 
ibeir continual and almost incessant solicitations, are, in the 
course of a life, very apt to mislead into great deviations. 

Fear and anger, together with some other passions which 
are mixed or connected with them, constitute the first class. 
The love of ease, of pleasure, of applause, and of many other 
selfish gratifications, constitute the second. Extravagant 
fear and furious anger it is often difficult to restrain even for 
a single moment. The love of ease, of pleasure, of applause, 
and other selfish gratifications, it is always easy to restrain 
for a single moment, or even for a short period of time ; but, 
by their continual solicitations, they often mislead us into 


910 OF TSnS CHARACTEB [PABT TL 

many weaknesses which we have afterwards much reason 
to be ashamed of. The former set of passions may often he 
said to drive, the latter to seduce, us from our duty. The 
command of the former was, by the ancient moralists above 
alluded to, denominated fortitude, manhood, and strength 
of mind ; that of the latter, temperance, decency, modesty, 
and moderation. 

The cafmsiiaiid of each of those two sets of passions, inde- 
pendent of 'die beauty which it derives from its utility, from 
its enabKi^ ns upon all occasions to act according to the 
dictates of pmdence, of justice, and of proper benevolenee, 
has a betnfy of its own, and seems to deserve, for its own 
sake, a certain degree of esteem and admiration. In the 
one case, the strength and greatness of the exertion excitei 
eome degree of that esteem and admiration ; in the other, 
the uniformity, the equality, and unremitting steadiness, of 
that exertion. 

The nan wlio, in danger, in tortore, upon. Ihe appxoadi 
€»f dea&, preierves his traaqBillity unaltered, and snfiers no 
word, ad gesture, to escape him which does not perfect^ 
aeoord with the feelings of the most indifferent spectator, 
necessarily commands a very hi^ degiee of admiration, if 
he suffers in the cause of liberty and justice, for the sake of 
humanity and the love of his country, the most tender com- 
passion for his sufferings, the strongest indignation against 
the ivjostice txf liis persecutors, the warmest i^mpatketic 
gratitude for his beneficent intentions, the highest sense cf 
his merit, all join and mix tiiemselves with the admixatka 
of his magnanimity, and often inflame that sentiment ialD 
the most entiiusiastic and laptmrous veneration. The heroes 
of cmoient and modem hirtory, who are remembered with 
the most peculiar favour and affection, are many of them 
those who, m the cause of truth, liberty, and justice, have 
perished upon the scaffold, and who behaved there with tiiat 


«XCX. m.] OF TXBTITE. 9S1 

ease and dignity wtiieli became tbein* Had the enemies <^ 
Socrates suffered lum to die quietly in his 1>ed, the glory 
Wfea. o£ that ^e«t phiioBOpheT might possibly never have 
aeqwed that dazezling splendour in ivlsich it has been be- 
held in all eneceeding ages. In the English history, when 
we look over the iHostiioes heads which have been engra* 
ven by Vertne and Howbraken, there is scarce any body, 
I imagine, wiio does not feel that the axe, the emblem of 
having been beheaded, which is engraved under some of 
the most iUnstrioas of them — imder those of the Sir Thomas 
Mores, af^eHakighs, the Rassels, the^ydney8,&c. — ^sheds 
a Teal dignity and interestingness over the characters to 
iduBh it is affixed, mudi superior to what they can derive 
firom aU the futEe ornaments of heraldry wi& which tliey 
am somstimeB aecomponied. 

Kor does this magnanimity give lustre only to the charac- 
ters of isnoooit and virtuous men. It draws some degree 
«f favourable regard even upon those of the jgreatest en* 
minals^ and when a robber or highwayman is brought to 
Ibe scaffold, and behaves there with deoency and firmness^ 
liiough we perfectly approve of his punishment, we often 
eannot help regretting that a man who possessed such ^est 
and noble powers should have been capable <of such mean 
Qnfimities. 

. War is the great school both for acquiring and exercising 
this species of magnanimity. Death, as we say, is the king 
of terrors ; and the man who has conquered the fear of death 
is not likely to lose his presence of mind at the approach of 
any other natural evil. In war, men become familiar with 
dieath, and are hereby necessarily cured of that supersti«* 
tioufl hoiror with whieh it is viewed by the wes^ and unex* 
parienced. They consider it merely as the loss of life, and 
afl no fitrther tiie object of aversion than as life may happen 
to be that of desire : they learn from experience, too, Ihat 


852 OF THE GHAKACTEB [PABT Tl. 

many seemingly great dangers are' not so great as they ap* 
pear ; and that with courage, activity, and presence of mind, 
there is often a good probability of extricating themselves, 
with honour, from situations where at first they could see 
no hope. The dread of death is thus greatly diminished, 
and the confidence or hope of escaping it augmented* They 
learn to expose themselves to danger with less reluctance ; 
they are less anxious to get out of it, and less apt to lose 
their presence of mind while they are in it. It is this habi- 
tual contempt of danger and death which ennobles the pro- 
fession of a soldier, and bestows upon it, in the natural ap- 
prehensions of mankind, a rank and dignity superior to that 
of any other profession. The skilful and successful exer- 
cise of this profession in the service of their country seems 
to have constituted the most distinguishing feature in the 
character of the favourite heroes of all ages. 

A great warlike exploit, though undertaken contrary io 
every principle of justice, and carried on without any re- 
gard to humanity, sometimes interests us, and commands 
even some degree wof a certain sort of esteem for the very 
worthless characters which conduct it. We are interested 
even in the exploits of the Buccaneers, and read with some 
sort of esteem and admiration the history of the most worths 
less men, who, in pursuit of the most criminal purposes, 
endured greater hardships, surmounted greater difficulties, 
and encountered greater dangers, than perhaps any which 
the ordinary course of history gives an account of. 

The command of anger appears, upon many occafflona^ 
not less generous and noble than that of fear. The proper 
expression of just indignation composes many of the most 
splendid and admired passages both of ancient and modem 
eloquence. The Philippics of Demosthenes, the Catilinari* 
ans of Cicero, derive their whole beauty from the noble pro- 
priety with which this passion is expressed. But this josl 


8KCT. ra.] OP VIKTUE. 353 

indignation is nothing but anger restrained and properly 
attempered to what the impartial spectator can enter into. 
The blustering and noisy passion which goes beyond this 
is always odious and offensive, and interests us, not for the 
angry man, but for the man with whom he is angry. The 
nobleness of pardoning appears, upon many occasions, supe- 
rior even to the most perfect propriety of resenting. When 
either proper acknowledgments have been made by the 
offending party, or, even without any such acknowledg- 
ments, when the public interest requires that the most mor- 
tal enemies should unite for the discharge of some import- 
jmt duty, the man who can cast away all animosity, and act 
with confidence and cordiality towards the person who had 
most grievously offended him, seems justly to merit our 
iiighest admiration. 

r 

The command of anger, however, does not always appear 
in such splendid colours. Fear is contrary to anger, and 
is often the motive which restrains it ; and, in such cases, 
the meanness of the motive takes away all the nobleness 
of the restraint. Anger prompts to attack, and the indul- 
gence of it seems sometimes to shew a sort of courage and 
«uperiority to fear. The indulgence of anger is sometimes 
itn object of vanity ; that of fear never is. Vain and weak 
men^ among their inferiors, or those who dare not resist 
them, often affect to be ostentatiously passionate, and fancy 
tfiat they shew what is called spirit in being so. A bully 
tells many stories of his own insolence, which are not true, 
and imagines that he thereby renders himself, if not more 
amiable and respectable, at least more formidable to his 
audience. Modem manners which, by favouring the 
practice of duelling, maybe said in some cases to encourage 
private revenge, contribute, perhaps, a good deal to render, 
in modern times, the restraint of anger by fear still more 
contemptible than it might otherwise appear to be. There 
is always something dignified in the command of fear, 

2 A 


'iH^ OF THE CHABACTER [PABT YU 

wliatever may be the motive upon which it is founded* li^ 
is not so with the command of anger ; unless it is founded 
altogether in the sense of decency, of dignity, and proprietji' 
it never is perfectly agreeable. 

To act according to the dictates of prudence, of justice^ 
and proper beneficence, seems to have no great merit wheret 
there is no temptation to do otherwise. But to act with 
cool deliberation in the midst of the greatest dangers and. 
difficulties ; to observe religiously the sacred rules of justice^ 
in spite both of the greatest interests which might tempt 
and the greatest injuries which might provoke ua to violate 
tbem ; never to suffer the benevolence of our temper to he, 
damped or discouraged by the malignity and ingratitude of 
the individuals towards whom it may have been exercised,, 
is the character of the most exalted wisdom and virtue. 
Self-command is* not only itself a great virtue, but froat it 
all the other virtues seem to derive their principal lustre. 

The command of fear, the command of anger, are alwaya 
j^reat and noble powers. When Ihey are directed by justices 
and benevolence, they are not only great virtues, but in- 
crease the splendour of those other virtues. They may, 
however, sometimes be directed by very different motives ; 
a9d in this case, though still great and respectable, they 
m^y be excessively dangerous. The most intrepid valour 
ipty be employed in the cause of the greatest uxjustice* 
Anjiidst great provocations, apparent tranquillity and good- 
hfwour may sometimes conceal the most determined and 
cruel resolution to revenge^ The strength of mind requisite 
f9r such dissimulation, though always and necessarily con- 
taminated by the baseness of falsehood, has, however, been 
often much admired by many people of no contemptibia 
judgment. The, dissimulation of Catharine of Medicis is 
often celebrated by the profound historian Davila ; that of 
Lprd Digby, afterwards Earl of Bristol, by the graye and 


ODCT. m.J OF YUTUE. ZSB 

eoBseientioniS Lord Clatendon ; that of the first AsM&y^ 
Earl of Shaftefibury^ by the judicious Mr Locke. Evcai 
Cicero seems to consider this deceitful character, iiot indeed, 
as of the highest dignity, but as not unsuitable to a certain 
flexibility of manners, which he thinks may, notwithstand^ 
ing, be upon the whole both agreeable and respectable. 
He ex^npli&es it by the characters of Homer's Ulysses, of 
the Athenian Themistocles, of the Spartan Lysc^nder^ and 
of the Roman Marcus Crassus. This character of dark an^ 
deep dissimulation occurs most commonly in times of great 
public disorder — amidst the yiolenee of facticm and civil 
war. When law has become in a great measure impotent^ 
when the most perfect inaocence cannot alone insure safety^ 
regard to sel£<4efenee obliges the greater part of ment^ 
liave recourse to dexterity, to address, -and to apparent aor 
commodation to whatever happens to be at the moment 
the prevailing pa^y. This false character, too, is frequently 
aecompaBied with the coolest and most determined courage* 
The proper exercise of it imposes that courage, as death ia 
commonly the certain consequence of detection. It may b^ 
employed indifferently, either to exafrpe]:ate or to allay thos^ 
filrioua animosities of adverse factions which impose the 
necessity of assuming it ; .and though it may sometimes be 
useful, it is at least equally liable to be exQessively per«- 
nieious^ 

The command of the less violent and turbulent passiaa& 
seems much less liable to be abu£ied to any pernicious parr- 
pose. Temperance,! decency, modesty* and moderation, are 
always amiable, and can seldcHn be directed ta any bad end. 
It is from the unremitting steadii^ess of those getntler exer^ 
tk)ns of self-c<Hnmand that the amiable virtue of chasti^ 
that the respectable virtues of industry and frugality, derive 
all that sober lustre which attends thenu The eondm^ of 
all those who are contented to walk in the humble paths of 
private and peaceable life, derives from the saln^ prinojphl 


S86 OF THE CHARACTER [PART TL 

the greater part of the beauty and grace which belong to 
it ; a beauty and grace which, though much less dazzling, 
is not always less plieasing than those which accompany the 
more splendid actions of the hero, the statesman, or the 
legislator. 

Aflfcer what has already been said in several different 
parts of tiiis discourse concerning the nature of self-com- 
mand, I judge it unnecessary to enter into any further detail 
concerning those virtues. I shall only observe at present, 
that the point of propriety, the degree of any passion which 
the impartial spectator approves of, is differently situated in 
different passions. In some passions the excess is less dis- 
agreeable than the defect ; and in such passions the point 
of propriety seems to stand high, or nearer to the excess 
than to the defect In other passions the defect is less dis- 
agreeable than the excess ; and in such passions the point 
of propriety seems to stand low, or nearer to the defect than 
to the excess. The former are the passions which the 
spectator is most, the latter those which he is least disposed 
to sympathize with. The former, too, are the passions of 
whi6h the immediate feeUng or sensation is agreeable to the 
person principally concerned, the latter those of which it is 
disagreeable. It may be laid down as a general rule, that 
the passions which the spectator is most disposed to sym- 
pathize with, and in which, upon that account, the point of 
propriety may be said to stand high, are those of which the 
imi&ediate feeling or sensation is more or less agreeable to 
the person principally concerned ; and that, on the contrary, 
the' passions which the spectator is least disposed to sympa- 
thize with, and in which, upon that account, the point of 
propriety may be said to stand low, are those of which the 
immediate feeling or sensation is more or less disagreeable, 
or even painful, to the person principally concerned. This 
general rule, so far as I have been able to observe, 
adzztits not of a single exception. A few examples will 


v^B^^noMiiqpwi 


SECT, in.] OF VIRTUE. 35? 

at once both sufficiently explain it and demonstrate the 
truth of it. 

The disposition to the affections which tend to unite men 
in society, to humanity, kindness, natural affection, friend- 
ship, esteem, may sometimes be excessivo. Even the excess 
of this disposition, however, renders a man interesting to 
every body. Though we blame it, we still regard it with 
compassion, and even with kindness, and never with dislike. 
We are more sorry for it than angry at it. To the person 
himself, the indulgence even of such excessive affections is, 
upon many occasions, not ^nly agreeable but delicious. 
Upon some occasions, indeed, especially when dbected, as 
is too often the case, towards unworthy objects, it exposes 
him to much real and heartfelt distress. Even upon such 
occasions, however, a well-disposed mind regards him with 
the most exquisite pity, and feels the highest indignation 
against those who affect to despise him for his weakness and 
imprudence. The defect of this disposition, on the contrary, 
what is called hardness of heart, while it renders a man 
insensible to the feelings and 'distresses of other people, 
renders other people equally insensible to his ; and, by 
excluding him from the friendship of all the world, excludes 
him from the best and most comfortable of all social enjoy- 
ments. 

The disposition to the affections which drive men from 
one another, and which tend, as it were, to break the bands 
of human society ; the disposition to anger, hatred, envy, 
malice, revenge, is, on the contrary, much more apt to offend 
by its excess than by its defect. The excess renders a man 
wretched and miserable in his own mind, and the olject of 
hatred, and sometimes even of horror, to other people. The 
defect is very seldom complained of. It may, however, be 
defective. The want of proper indignation is a most essen- 
tial defect in the manly character, and, upon many occa* 


S58 OF THE CHARACTER [PAST Yh 

gions, renders a man incapable of protecting either himself 
or his friends from insult and injustice. Even that prin- 
ciple, in the excess and improper direction of which consists 
the odious and detestable passion of envy, may be defective. 
Envy is that passion which views with malignant dislike 
Ihe superiority of those who are really entitled to all the 
superiority they possess. The man, however, who, in mat- 
ters of consequence, tamely suffers other people, who are 
entitled to no such superiority, to rise above him or get 
]iefote him, is justly condemned as mean-spirited. This 
weakness is* commonly founded in indolence, sometimes in 
good-nature, in an aversion to«opposition, to bustle and so- 
licitation, and sometimes, too, in a sort of ill*judged mag- 
nanimi^, which fancies that it can always continue to de- 
spise the advantage which it then despises, and therefore 
so -easily gives up; Such weakness, however^ is commonly 
followed by much regret and repentance ; and what had 
some appearance of magnanimity in the beginning, frequent* 
ly gives plaae to a most malignant envy in. the end, and to 
a hatred of that superiority which those who have once at- 
tained it may often become really entitled to, by the very 
circumstance of having attained it. .In order to live com- 
fortably in the world, it is upon all occasions as necessaiy 
to defend bur dignity and rank, as it is to defend our life oi 
our fortune. 

Our sensibility to personal danger and distress, like that 
to personal provooation, is much more apt to >offend by its 
excess than by its defect. No character is more contempt 
tible than that of a coward — ^no character is more admirod 
than that of the man who faces death' with intrepidity, and 
maintains his tranquillity and presence of mind amidst the 
most dreadful dangers. We esteem the man who supports 
pain and even torture with manhood and firmness ; and we 
can have little regard for him who sinks under them, and 
abandons himself to useless outcries and womanish lament*- 


.6SGT. Ill*] OF VlltTt33B. ^8(% 

iion^. A fretfal temper, which feels with too much sensi- 
bility ev^ry little cross accident, renders a man misei^ble 
in himself and offensive to^ other people. A calm one, which 
does not allow its tranquillity to-be distarbed, .either by th^ 
small injuries or by the little disasters incident to the usual 
course of human afiBftirs, but which, amidst the natural and 
moral evils iilfesting the world, lays its account und is-cjOU* 
tented to suffer a little from both, is a blessing to the ssab 
himself, and gives ease and security to all his companionSr 

Our sensibility, however, both to our own injuries a&d4i» 
our own misfortunes, though, generally top strong, may like** 
wise be too weak. The man who feels little for his owa 
xnisfortunes must always feel less for those of other people, 
and be less disposed to relieve them. The man who hes 
little resentment for the injuries which are done to himself^ 
must always have less for those which ai^.' done to other 
people, and be less disponed either to protect or to avenge 
them. A stupid insensibility to the events of human life 
necessarily extinguishes all that keen and earnest attention 
to the propriety of our own conduct, which constitutes the 
real essence of virtue* We can feel little anxiety about the 
propriety of pur own actions when we are indifferent about 
the events which may resjilt from them. The man who. 
feels the full distress of the calamity which has befallen him, 
who feels the whple baseness of the injustice which has 
been done to him, but who feels still more. strongly what 
the dignity of his own character requires ; who does not» 
abandon himself to the guidance of the undisciplined pas- 
sions which his situation might naturally inspire ; but who 
governs his whole behaviour and conduct according to those 
restrained and corrected emotions which the great inmate, . 
the great demigod within the breast prescribes and ap^ 
proves of; is alone the real man of virtue, the only real and 
proper object of love, respect, and admiration. Insensibi- 
Hly and that noble firmness, that exalted self-commaDd, 


860 OF THE CHABACTEB [PABT TI. 

which is founded in the sense of dignity and propriety, «n 
so fax from being altogether the same, that in proportion 
as the former takes place, the merit of the latter is in many 
cases entirely taken away. 

Bat though the total want of sensibility to personal in- 
jury, to personal danger and distress, would, in such situa- 
tions, take away the whole merit of self-command, that sen- 
sibility, however, may very easily be too exquisite, and it 
frequently is so. When the sense of propriety, when the 
authority of tiie judge within the breast, can control this 
extreme sensibility, that authority must no doubt appear 
very noble and very great. But the exertion of it may be 
too fatiguing — ^it may hare too much to do. The individual^ 
by a great effort, may behave perfectly well ; but the con- 
test between the two principles, the warfiure within the 
breast, may be too violent to be at all consistent with in- 
ternal tranquilli^ and happiness. The wise man whom 
nature has endowed with this too exquisite sensibility, and 
whose too lively feelings have not been sufficientiy blunted 
and hardened by early education and proper exercise, will 
avoid, as much as duty and propriety will permit, the situfr* 
tions for which he is not perfectiy fitted. The man whose 
feeble and delicate constitution renders him too sensible to 
pain, to hardship, and to every sort of bodily distress^ 
should not wantonly embrace the profession of a soldier. 
The man of too much sensibility to injury should not rashly 
engage in the contests of faction. Though the sense of pro- 
priety should be strong enough to command all those sen- 
sibilities, the composure of the mind must always be dis- 
turbed in the struggle. In this disorder the judgment can- 
not always maintain its ordinary acuteness and precision ; 
and though he may always mean to act properly, he may 
often act rashly and imprudentiy, and in a manner which 
he himself will, in the succeeding part of his life, be for ever 
ashamed of, A certain intrepidity, a certain firmness of 


SECT, in.] OF YIBTUB. 361 

nerves and hardiness of constitution, whether natural or 
acquired, are undoubtedly the best preparatiTes for all tlie 
great exertions of self-command. 

Though war and faction are certainly the best schools for 
forming every man to this hardiness and firmness of temper, 
though they are the best remedies for curing him of the op* 
posite weaknesses, yet if the day of trial should happen to 
come before he has completely learned his lesson, before the 
remedy has had time to produce its proper effect, the con- 
sequences might not be agreeable. 

Our sensibility to the pleasures, to the amusements and 
enjoyments of human life, may offend, in the same manner, 
either by its excess or by its defect. Of the two, howeveri 
the excess seems less disagreeable than the defect. Both 
to the spectator and to the person principally concerned, a 
strong propensity to joy is certainly more pleasing than a 
dull insensibility to the objects of amusement and diversion. 
We are charmed with the gaiety of youth, and even with 
the playfulness of childhood ; but we soon grow weary of 
the flat and tasteless gravity which too frequently accom- 
panies old age. When this propensity, indeed, is not re- 
strained by the sense of propriety, when it is unsuitable to 
the time or to the place, to the age or to the situation of the 
person, when to indulge it he neglects either his interest or 
his duty, it is justly blamed as excessive, and as hurtful 
both to the in<Hvidual and to the society. In the greater 
part of such cases, however, what is chiefly to be found fault 
with is not so much the strength of the propensity to joy 
as the weakness of the sense of propriety and duty. A 
young man who has no relish for the diversions and amuse- 
ments that are natural and suitable to his age, who talks of 
nothing but his book or his business, is disliked as formal 
and pedantic ; and we give him no credit for his abstinence 


M2 OF TfiX CHABAGTER [PABT TC 

«Yeii firom nnpropefr indulgenees, to whieh he seems to bave 
flo .little meUaation* 

The principle of self-estimation may be too high, and it 
«iik7*iy£ewite be too low. It is so very agreeable to think 
lugbly, and so'/rery disagreeable to think meanly, of onr- 
selves, that to .the person himself it cannot well be donbi^ 
ed •but that some degree of exeess must be much less dis* 
agreeable than any degree of defect. But to the impartisl 
spectator it may perhaps be thought things must appear 
quite differently, and that to him the defect mast always be 
less disagreeable than the excess. And in our companions, 
no doubt, we much more frequently eomplain of the latter 
than of the former. When they assume upon us, or set 
themsel-yes before us, their self-estimation mortifies our own. 
Our own^ pride and vanity prompt us to accuse them of pride 
and vaitity, and we cease to be the impartial spectators ^ 
their conducts When the same companions, however, sufier 
my other man to assume over them a superiority whieh 
does not belong to him, we not only blame them, but often 
despise them as mean-spirited. Wben^ on the contrary, 
among other people they push. themselves a little more for- 
ward, and scramble to an elevation disproportioned, as we 
think, to their merit, though we may not perfectly approve 
of their conduct, we are often upon the whole diverted 
with it; and where there is no envy in the case, we are al* 
most always much less displeased with them than we should 
have been had they suffered themselves to sink below their 
proper station. 

In estimating our own merit, in judging of our own cha- 
cacter and conduct, there are two different standards to 
which we naturally compare them. The one is the idea of 
esact propriefy and perfection, so far as we are each of us 
capable of comprehending that idea. The other is that 


SECT, in.] OF VIRTUE. 36S 

degree of approximation to this idea 'wiitcli'is'coindionly at- 
tained in the world, and which the greater part of our frieiids 
and companions, of oar rivals and competitors, may have 
actually arrived at. We very seldom (I am disposed to 
think we never) attempt to judge of ourselves without giv- 
ing more or less attention. to both these different standards. 
But the attention of different men, and even of iiie same 
man at different times, is often very imequialiy divided be- 
tween them, and is sometimes .principally directed towardir 
ILq one, and sometimed towards the other. 

So far as our attention is directed towards the first 
standard, the wisest and best of us all can, in his own 
character and conduct, see nothing but weakness and im- 
perfection ; can discover no ground for arrogance and pre- 
sumption, but a -great deal for humility, regret, cmd repen- 
tance. So far as our attention is directed '(owards the second, 
we may be afibcted either 'in the one way or in theoliiery 
and feel ourselves either really above or reaUy below the 
standard to whichwe compare ourselves. 

The wise and virtuous man directs his principal attention 
to the first standard-^— the idea of exact propriety and per-' 
fectioUk There exists in the mind of every man an idea of 
tiiis kind, gradually formed from his observations upon the 
character and conduct both of himself and of other people. 
It is the slow, gradual, and progressive worii^ of the great 
demig6d within the breast, the great judge and arbiter of 
conduct. This idea is in every man more or less accurately 
drawn,. its colouring is more or less just, its outlines are 
more or less exactly designed, 'according to the delicacy 
and acuteness of that sensibility with which those observa* 
tions were made, and aceording to the care and attention 
employed in making them. In the wise and virtuous man- 
they have ' b6en made with the most acute and delicate- 
sensibility, and the utmost care and attention have been 


864 OF THE CHARACTER [PART TI. 

employed in making them. Every day some featnre is 
improved— every day some blemish is corrected. He has 
studied this idea more than other people ; he comprehends 
it more distinctly ; he has formed a much more correct 
image of it, and is much more deeply enamoured of its ex- 
quisite and divine beauty : he endeavours as well as he 
can to assimilate his own character to this archetype of 
perfection. But he imitates the work of a divine artist, 
which can never be equalled. He feels the imperfect suc- 
cess of all his best endeavours, and sees, with grief and 
affliction, in how many different featiures the mortal copy 
falls short of the immortal original : he remembers, witii 
concern and humiliation, how often, from want of attention, 
from want of judgment, froin want of temper, he has, both 
in words and actions, both in conduct and conversation, 
violated the exact rules of perfect propriety, and has so far 
departed from that^odel, according to which he wished to 
fashion his own character and conduct. When he directs 
his attention towards the second standard, indeed, that 
degree of excellence which his friends and acquaintances 
have commonly arrived at, he may be sensible of his own 
superiority ; but as his principal attention is always di- 
rected towards the first standard, he is necessarily much 
more humbled by the one comparison than he ever can be 
elevated by the other. He is never so elated as to look 
down with insolence even upon those who are really below 
him : he feels so well his own imperfection, he knows so 
well the difficulty with which he attained his own distant 
approximation to rectitude, that he cannot regard with con- 
tempt the still greater imperfection of other people. Far 
from insulting over their inferiority, he views it with the 
most indulgent commiseration, and, by his advice as well 
as example, is at all times willing to promote their further 
advancement. If in any particular qualification they hap- 
pen to be superior to him (for who is so perfect as not to 
have many superiors in many different qualifications ?) far 


6£CT. m.] OF VIRTUE. 365 

firom envying their superiority, he who knows how difficult 
it is to excel, esteems and honours their excellence, and 
never fails to bestow upon it the full measure of applause 
which it deserves. His whole mind, in short, is deeply 
impressed, his whole behaviour and deportment are dis- 
tinctly stamped with the character of real modesty ; with 
that of a very moderate estimation of his own merit, and, at 
the same time, of a full sense of the merit of other people. 

In all the liberal and ingenious arts, in painting, in 
poetry, in music, in eloquence, in philosophy, the great 
artist feels always the real imperfection of his own best 
works, and is more sensible than any man how much they 
fall short of that ideal perfection of which he has formed 
some conception, which he imitates as well as he can, but 
which he despairs of ever equalling. It is the inferior 
artist only who is ever perfectly satisfied with his own per- 
formances. He has little conception of this ideal perfection, 
about which he has little employed his thoughts ; and it is 
chiefly to the works of other artists, of perhaps a still lower 
order, that he deigns to compare his own works. Boileau, 
the great French poet (in some of his works, perhaps not 
inferior to the greatest poet of the same kind, eiliier ancient 
«r modem), used to say that no great man was ever com- 
pletely satisfied with his own works. His acquaintance 
Santeuil (a writer of Latin verses, and who, on account of 
that school-boy accomplishment, had the weakness to fancy 
liimself a poet) assured him that he himself was always 
•completely satisfied with his own. Boileau replied, with 
perhaps an arch ambiguity, that he certainly was the only 
great man that ever was so. Boileau, in judging of his 
own works, compared them with the standard of ideal per- 
fection which, in his own particular branch of- the poetic 
art, he had, I presume, meditated as deeply, and conceived 
as distinctly, as it is possible for man to conceive it. San- 
teuil, in judging of his own works, compared them, I 


966 OF THE CBABACTEB [PA&T YI. 

ft 

Boj^p&aej chiefly to those of the other Latin^ets of his owb 
time, to the greater part of whom he was certainly very 
far from heiog inferior. But to support and finish off, if I 
may so say, the conduct and conversation of a whole life to 
some resdmhlance of this ideal perfection^ is surely much 
more difficult than to work up to an equal resemhlance any 
of the productions of any of the ingenious arts. The artist 
sits down to his work undisturhed, at leisure, in the full 
possession and recollection of all his skill, experience, and 
knowledge. The wise man must support the propriety of 
his. own conduct in health and in sickness^ in success and 
in disappointment, in the hour of fatigue and drowsy indo- 
lence, as weU as in that of the most awakened attention. 
The most sudden and unexpected assaulta of difficulty and 
distress must never surprise him. The injustice of other 
people must never provoke him to injustice. The vicdence 
of fieiction must never confound him* All the hardships and 
haaards of war mus^ never either diaheartea or appal him. 

Of the persons who, in estimating their own ment, k 
judging of their own character and conduet, direct by £ir 
the greater part of their attention .to the second standard, to 
that ordinary degree of excellence which is commonly at- 
tained by other people, there, are some who really and justly 
feel themselves very much above it, and who, by eveiy 
iatelUgent and impartial spectator^ aie acknowledged to b» 
so.. The attention of such persons, however, being always 
principally directed, not to the standard of ideal, but to thai 
of ordinary, perfection, they have liltle sense of their own 
weaknesses and imperfections ; they have Uttle modesty; 
art often assuming, arrogant, and presumptuous ; great ad- 
mirers of themselves, and great contemners of other people. 
Though tbw characters are in general much less conec^ 
and their .merit much inferior to that of the man of real and 
modest virtue, yet their excessive presumption, founded 
upon, their own excessive self-admiration, daiodea the multi- 


a£CT. XXZ«] OP YIBTUB* 86? 


• 


tilde, and often impo^i^ even upon tboae who are mudi 
superior to the mttltitude. The frequent^ and oftedn wonder<- 
ftd, suooess of the most ignorant quacks and impostors, both 
eivil and religious, sufficiently demonstrate how easily the 
XAultitude are imposed upon hy the most extravagant and 
g^undless pretensions. But when- those pretensiona ar^ 
i^pported by a very high degree of real and solid meritt 
when they are displayed with all the splendour which osten? 
tation can bestow upon them, when they axe supported, hy 
high rank and great power^ when they have often been 
sxieeeflsfully eis^eprted, and are upon that account attended 
by the loud acclamations of the multitude, even the man 
of sob^ judgment often abandons ; himself to the general 
admiration. The very otoise of those foolish acclamations 
often contributes to confound his understanding ; and while 
be sees those great men only at a certain distance, he i» 
often disposed to worship them, with a sincere admiration^ 
Miperior even to Umii with which they appear to worship 
themselves. When there is no envy in the. case we aU 
take pleasure in admiring, and ore upon that account' uar 
turally disposed, in our own fandies, to render complete 
and perfect in every respect the characters wblck* in many 
lespeets, are so v^^ worthy of admiration. The excesslvi^ 
9elf-admir«|donof those great men is well understood, per? 
lia§»s, and evei^seeQ through, with some degjcte^ of deri8io% 
1^ thosoiwise meA^wboare UHi^hin, thek fswoJiarity, and 
nfho secretly smUe at those lofty pretensions which, by 
peof^ at a distao^e^^are ofteo< regarded withj^veren/ee, and 
almost with ad€»^tlon. Sucb^ however, have been in all 
a^es the greater part oS those men who have, procured to 
themselves the most noisy.famC) the most extensive repute** 
tk«-'-4i kme and reputotioB, too^ which have often de<» 
iMended to the remotest ppsteri^. 

Grea^ success in tiae world^ great authpcity. over Hm 


868 OF THE CHARACTER [PART m. 

# 

sentiments and opinions of mankind, have vety seldom been 
acquired without some degree of this excessive self-admira- 
tion. The most splendid characters, the men who have 
performed the most illustrious actions, who have brought 
about the greatest revolutions, both in the situations and 
opinions of mankind ; the most successful warriors, the 
greatest statesmen and legislators, the eloquent founders 
and leaders of the most numerous and most successful 
sects and parties ; have many of them been not more dis- 
tinguished for their very great merit than for a degree of 
presumption and self-admiration altogether disproportion- 
ed even to that very great merit. This presumption was, 
perhaps, necessary not only to prompt them to undertakings 
which a more sober mind would never have thought of^ hut 
to command the submission and obedience of their followers 
to support them in such undertakings. When crowned with 
success, accordingly, this presumption has often betrayed 
them into a vanity that approached almost to insanity and 
folly. Alexander the Great appears not only to have wish- 
ed that other people should think him a god, but to have 
been ^t least very well disposed to fancy himself such. Upon 
his death-bed — ^the most ungodlike of all situations — ^he re- 
quested of his friends that, to the respectable list of deities 
into which himself had long before been inserted, his old 
mother Olympia might likewise have the honour of being 
added. Amidst the respectful admiration of his foUowers 
and disciples, amidst the universal applause of the public, 
after the oracle,^ which probably had followed the voice of 
that applause, had pronounced him the wisest of men, the 
great wisdom of Socrates, though it did not suffer him to 
fancy himself a god, yet was not great enough to hinder 
him from fancying that he had secret and frequent intima- 
tions from some invisible and divine Being. ^ The sound 
head of Caesar was not so perfectly sound as to hinder him 
from being much pleased with his divine genealogy from 


SECT. III.] OP VIRTUE. 369 

• 

the goddess Venus ; and, before the temple of this pretend- 
ed great-grandmother, to receive, without rising from his 
seat, the Roman senate, when that illustrious body came to 
present him with some decrees conferring upon him the most 
extravagant honours. This insolence, joined to some other; 
acts of an almost childish vanity, little, to be expected front, 
an understanding at once so very acute and comprehensive, 
seems, by exasperating the public jealousy, to have embol- 
dened his assassins, and to have ha3tened the execution of. 
their.conspiracy. The religion and manners of modem times, 
give our great men little encouragement to fancy themselves > 
either gods or even prophets. Success, however, joined to 
great popular favour, has often so. far turned the heads of 
the greatest of them, as to make them ascribe to themselves 
both an importance and an ability much beyond what they, 
really possessed ; and, by this presumption, to precipitate 
themselves into many rash and sometimes ruinous adven- 
tures. It is a characteristic almost peculiar to the great 
Duke of Marlborough, that ten years of such uninterrupted 
and such splendid success as scarce any other general could 
boast of, never betrayed him into a single rash action, scarce 
into a single rash word or expression. The same tempe- 
rate coolness and self-command cannot, I think, be ascribed 
to any other great warrior of later times — ^not to Prince 
Eugene, not to the late King of Prussia, not to the great 
Prince of Conde, not even to Gustavus Adolphus. Turenne 
seems to have approached the nearest to it; but several 
different transactions of his life sufficiently . demonstrate 
that it was in him by no means so perfect as in the great 
Duke of Marlborough. 

In the humble projects of private life, as well as in the 
ambitious and proud pursuits of high stations, great abili* 
ties and successful enterprise in the beginning, have frequent- 
ly encouraged to undertakings which necessarily led to 

bankruptcy and ruin in the end* 

2 B 


370 OF THE CHARACTER [PABT ft, 

The esteem and admiiation wfaicli exery iinpftrtial spee* 
tetor conceiyeB for &e real merit of tiiokse spirited, magDam* 
ttione, and high-minded persons, as it is a just and wel]<- 
finmded sentiment, so it is a steady Mid permanent one, and 
altogether independent of their good or bad fntune. It is 
otiierwise with that admiration which ho is apt to conceive 
for their excessive self-estimation and presumption. While 
they are successful, indeed, he is often perfectly conquered 
and overborne l^ them. Sucoesa covers from his eyes, not 
only the great imprudence, but frequently the great injustice, 
of their enteq^rises ; and, far from blaming this defective 
part of their character, he often views it with the most en- 
Ihusiastic admiration. Wfaeli they are unfortunate, however, 
Ihings change their colours and their names. What was 
before heroic magnanimity, resumes its proper appellation 
of extravagant rashness and folly; and the blackness of that 
avidity and injustice, which was before hid under the splen- 
dour of prosperity, comes full iilto view, and blots the whole 
lustre of their enterprise. Had Ccesar instead of gaining, 
lost the battle of Pharsalia, his character would at this 
hour have ranked a little above that of Catiline, and the 
weakest Inan would have viewed his enterprise against the 
laws of his coxmtry in blacker colours than perhaps even 
Cato, with all the animosity of a party-man, ever viewed it 
at the time. His real merit, the justne^rs of his taste, the 
simplicity and elegance of his writings, the propriety of his 
eloquence, his skill in war, his resources in distress, his 
cool and sedate judgment in danger, his faithful attachment 
to his friends, his unexampled generosity to his enemies, 
would all have been acknowledged; as the real merit of 
€atiline, who had many great qualities, is acknowledged at 
this day. Biit the insolence and injustice of his all-grasp- 
itig ambition would have darkened and extinguished the 
glory of all that real merit. Fortune has in this, as well as 
in some other respects already mentioned, great influence 
over the moral sentiments of mapkind, and, according as 


Pi1W!Wiii WU i W.I I J i LLI I L.|.. ji J PigggggB Sftau i ,. ^fc i ,..j;5 ggg^ 


BBCT. in, J OF VIRTUE. 37 1 

ske is either favourable or adverse, can render the same 
«liaracter the object either of general love and admiraticm 
^ of universal hatred and contempt. This great disorder 
ki our mored s^timents is by no means^ however, without 
ks utilit|r ; and we m^ay on this, as well as on many other 
oocasions, admire the wisdom of God, even in the weakness 
and folly of man. Our admiration of success is founded 
lipoft the same principle with our respect for wealth and 
gawatness, «nd is equally necessary for establishing ike dis« 
luustion of ranks and the order of society. By this admira^ 
tioa of success we are taught to submit more easily to those 
sqieriors whom tl^ course of human a£faks may assign to 
«s ; to regard with reverence, and sometimes even witJi « 
sort of respectful affection, that fortunate violence which we 
fire no longer capable of resisting ; not only the violence of 
soch s^endid characters as those of a Caesar or an Alexander, 
but often that of the most brutal and savage barbmans, of 
«ft Attila, a Gengis, or a Tamerlane. To all such mighty 
conquerors the great mob of mankind are naturally dis* 
^sed to look up with a wondering, thou^ no doubt with a 
very weak and foolish admiration. By this admiration, 
kowever, they are taught to acquiesce with less reluctance 
under that government which an irresistible force, imposes 
«po& them, and from which no reluctance could deliver them^ 

Though in prosperity, however, the man of excessiTe 
sdf- estimation may sometimes appear to have some advan- 
ti^ over the man of correct' and modest virtue ; though 
the applause of the multitude, and of those who see them 
both only at a distance, is often much louder in favour 
of the one than it ever is in favour of the other ; yet, all 
tilings £a,irly computed, the real balance of advantage is 
perhaps in all cases greatly in favour of the latter and 
against the former. The man who neither ascribes to him- 
self, nor wishes that other people should ascribe to him, any 
other merit besides that which really belongs to him, 


372 OP THE CHARACTER [PART TI. 

fears no humiliation, dreads no detection, but rests content- 
ed and secure upon the genuine truth and solidity of his own 
character. His admirers may neither be very numerous nor 
very loud in their applauses ; but the wisest man who sees 
him the nearest, and who knows him the best, admires him 
the most. To a real wise man, the judicious and well- 
weighed approbation of a single wise man gives more heart- 
felt satisfaction than all the noisy applauses of ten thousand 
ignorant though enthusiastic admirers. He may say with 
Parmenides, who, upon reading a philosophicid discourse 
before a public assembly at Athens, and observing that, ex- 
cept Plato, the whole company had left him, continued not- 
withstanding to read on, and said that Plato alone was 
audience sufficient for him. 

It is otherwise with the man of excessive self-estimation,. 
The wise men who see him the nearest admire him the least* 
Amidst the intoxication of prosperity, their sober and just 
esteem falls so far short of the extravagance of his own 
self-admiration, that he regards it as mere malignity and 
envy. He suspects his best friends ; their company becomes 
offensive to him ; he drives them from his presence ; and 
often rewards their services not only with ingratitude but 
with cruelty and injustice : he abandons his confidence to 
flatterers and traitors, who pretend to indolize his vanity and 
presumption ; and that character which in the beginning, 
though in some respects defective, was upon the whole both 
amiable and respectable, becomes contemptible and odious 
in the end. Amidst the intoxication of prosperity Alex- 
ander killed Clytus for having preferred the exploits of his 
father Philip to his own ; put Calisthenes to dealli in tor- 
ture for having refused to adore him in the Persian manner; 
and murdered the great friend of his father, the veneraUe 
Parmenio, after having, upon the most groundless suspicions^ 
sent first to the torture, and afterwards to the scaffold, the 
only remaining son of that old man, the rest having aO 


J 


8EGT. m.] OF YIBTUE* 373 

before died in his own service. This was that Parmenio of 
whom Philip used to say, that the Athenians were very for- 
tunate who could find ten generals every year, while he him- 
self In the whole course of his life could never find one 
but Parmenio. It was upon the vigilance and attention of 
this Parmenio that he reposed at all times with confidence 
iuid security, and, in his hours of mirth and jollity, used to 
say, let us drink, my friends, we may do it with safety, for 
Parmenio never drinks. It was this same Parmenio with 
whose presence and counsel it had been said Alexander 
gained all his victories ; and without whose presence and 
counsel he had never gained a single victory. The humble, 
•admiring, and flattering friends, whom Alexander left in 
power and authority behind him, divided his empire among 
themselves, and aPter having thus robbed his family and 
kindred of their inheritance, put one after another every 
-single surviving individual of them, whether male or female, 
to death. 

We frequently not only pardon but thoroughly enter into 
jmd sympathize with the excessive self-estimation of those 
Bplendid characters in which we observe a great and distin- 
guished superiority above the common level of mankind. 
We call them spirited, magnanimous, and high-minded — 
words which all involve in their meaning a considerable 
degree of praise and admiration. But we cannot enter 
into and sympathize with the excessive self-estimation of 
those characters in which we can discern no such distin- 
guished superiority. We are disgusted and revolted by it ; 
imd it is with some difficulty that we can either pardon or 
aaSer it. We call it pride or vanity — ^two words of which 
the latter always, and the former for the most part, involve 
in their meaning a considerable degree of blame. 

Those two vices, however, though resembling in some 
wspectfl^ MbeiPgbotb modifications of excessive self-esti* 


374 OF TBB CTEASAGTER [P^^BV ^* 

malion, are jet in many respects very dififerent from om 
another. 

The proud man is sincere^ and in the bottom of his heavt 
is convinced of his own stiperiority ; though it may some- 
times be difficult to guess upon what that conviction is found- 
ed. He wishes you to view him in no other light ikaxi that in 
which, when he places himself in your situation, he really 
views himself : he demands no more of you than what he 
thinks justice. If you appear not to respect him as he re- 
spects himself, he is more ofibnded than mortified, and feels 
the same indignant resentment as if he had suffered a real 
injury. He does not even then, however, deign to explain 
t^e grounds of his own pretensions : he disdains to comt 
your esteem : he affects even to despise it, and endea^onns 
to maintain his assumed station, not so much by making 
you sensible of his superiority as of your own meanness : 
he seems to wish not so much to excite your esteem §fx 
himself as to mortify that for yourself. 

The vain man is not sincere, and, m the bottom of his 
heart, is very seldom convinced of that superiority whi^ 
he wishes you to ascribe to him. He wishes you to view 
him in much more splendid colours than those in which, wimx 
he places himself in your situation, and supposes yon to 
know all that he knows, he can really view himself. What 
you appear to view him, therefore, in different colours^ per- 
haps in his proper colours, he is much more mortified tiunt 
o£^nded. The grounds of his claim to that character wfaiok 
he wishes you to ascribe to him he takes every opportamty 
of displaying, both by the most ostentations and unneeeB** 
tory exhibition of the good qualities and accomplishmenta 
which he possesses in some tolerable degree, andsometimei 
even by false pretensions to those which he either possesses 
in no degree, or in so very slender a degree that he may 
iv^ enough be said to possess them in juo degrees 


mxm. in.] or viBTtrE. 375 

iron desptsiBg your esteem, lie courts it with the most anxi- 
ous assiduity. Far from wishing to mortify your self-esti- 
mation, he is happy to eherish it, in hopes that in return you 
will cherish his own. He flatters in order to be flattered : 
he studies to please, and endearours to bribe you into a good 
opinion of him by politeness and complaisance, and some- 
times even by real and essential good offices, though often 
displayed, perhaps, with unnecessary ostentation; 

» 

The vain man sees the respect which is paid to rank and 
fortune, and wishes to usurp this respect, as well as that for 
talents and virtues. His dress, his equipage, his way of 
living, accordingly, all announce both a higher rank and a 
greater fortune than really belong to him ; and in order to 
support this foolish imposition for a few years in the begin- 
ning of his life, he often reduces himself to poverty and 
distress long before the end of it. As long as he can con- 
tinue his expense,, however, his vanity is delighted with 
viewing himself, not in the light in which you would view 
him if you knew all that he knows, but in that in which he 
imagines he has by his own address induced you actually 
to view him. Of all the illusions of vanity, this is perhaps 
the most common. Obscure strangers who visit foreign 
countries, or who, from a remote province, come to visit 
for a short time the capital of their own country, most fre- 
quently attempt to practise it. The folly of the attempt^ 
though always very great, and most unworthy of a man of 
sense, may not be altogether so great upon such as upon 
most other occasions. If their stay is short, they mtiy escape 
any disgraceful detection ; and, after indulging their vanity 
for a few months or a few years, they may return to their 
own homes, and repair by fliture parsimony the waste of 
their past profusion. 

The proud man can very seldom be accused of this folly; 
His sense of his own dignity renders him careful to pr^sefVb 


876 OP THE CHARACTER [PART VI. 

his independency, and, when his fortune happens not to be 
.large, though he wishes to be decent, he studies to be frugal 
and attentive in all his expenses. * The ostentatious expense 
.of the vain man is highly offensive to him. It outshines, 
perhaps, his own. It provokes his indignation as an insolent 
.assumption of a rank which is by no means due; and he 
never talks of it without loading it with the harshest and 
severest reproaches. 

The proud man does not always feel himself at his ease 
in the company of his equals, and still less in that of his su- 
periors. He cannot lay down his lofty pretensions, and th^ 
countenance and conversation of such company overawe him 
.80 much that he dare not display them : he has recourse to 
.humbler company, for which he has little respect, which he 
would not willingly choose, and which is by no means agree- 
lable to him — that of his inferiors, his flatterers, and depend- 
ants : he seldom visits his superiors, or if he does, it is rathel* 
to shew that he is entitled to live in such company than for any 
real satisfaction that he enjoys in it. It is, as Lord Clarendon 
fiays of the Earl of Arundel, that he sometimes went to court 
because he could there only find a greater man than himself* 
but that he went very seldom, because he found there a 

greater man than himself. 

■ 

It is quite otherwise with the vain man. He courts the 
company of his superiors as much as the proud man shuns it 
Their splendour, he seems to think, reflects a splendour 
upon those who are much about them. He haunts the 
courts of kings and the levees of. ministers, and gives him- 
self the air of being a candidate for fortune and preferment, 
when in reality he possesses the much more precionJ 
happiness, if he knew how to enjoy it, of not being one: 
be is fond of being admitted to the tables of the great, and 
Still more fond of magnifying to other people the familiarity 
with which he is honoured there : he associates himself as 


SECT, in,] OP VIRTUE. 377 

mucli as he can with fashionable people, with those who 
are supposed to direct the public opinion — ^with the witty, 
with the learned, with the popular ; and he shuns the com- 
pany of his best friends, whenever the very uncertain current 
of public favour happens to run in any respect against them. 
With the people to whom he wishes to recommend himself 
he is not always very delicate about the means which he 
employs for that purpose ; unnecessary ostentation, ground- 
less pretensions, constant assentation, frequently flattery, 
though for the most part a pleasant and a sprightly flattery, 
and very seldom the gross and fulsome flattery of a parasite.. 
The proud man, on the contrary, never flatters, and is fre- 
quently scarce civil to any body. 

Notwithstanding all its groundless pretensions, however, 
vanity is almost always a sprightly and a gay, and very 
often a good-natured passion ; pride is always a grave, a 
sullen, and a severe one. Even the falsehoods of tiie vain 
man are all innocent falsehoods, meant to raise himself, not 
to lower other people. To do the proud man justice, he 
very seldom stoops to the baseness of falsehood. When 
he does, however, his falsehoods. are by no means so in- 
nocent. They are all mischievous, and meant to lower other 
people. He is full of indignation at the unjust superiority, 
as he thinks it, which is given to them : he views them with 
malignity and envy, and in talking of them often endea- 
vours as much as he can to extenuate and lessen whatever 
are the grounds upon which their superiority is supposed to 
be founded. Whatever tales are circulated to their dis- 
advantage, though he seldom forges them himself, yet he 
often takes pleasure in believing them, is by no means un- 
willing to repeat them, and even sometimes with some de- 
gree of exaggeration. The worst falsehoods of vanity are 
all what we call white lies ; those of pride, whenever it con< 
descends to falsehood, are all of the opposite complexion* 


878 OF TBB CHABACTER [PAST YI. 

Our dudiks to pride aad yanity generally dispoMs ns to 
rank tha persons wbom we accuse of those vices rather 
below thaoi above the conmon leveL In thifl jadgment, 
however, I think we are most frequently in the wrong, aad 
that both the prond wod the vain man are often (perhafis 
for the most part) a good deal above it ; tbongh not near so 
much as either the one really thinks himeel^ or as th« other 
wishes you to think hinu If we compare them with thek 
own pretensions, th^ may appear the just objects of con- 
tempt. But when we compare them with what the greater 
part of their rivals and competitors really are, they rasf 
iqipear quite otherwise, and very much above the common 
leveL Where there is this real superiority, pride is fre- 
quently attended with many respectable virtues-^with truth, 
with integrity, with a high sense of honour, with eoidial 
«id steady Mendship, with the most inflexible fim^nesB and 
xesoludon; vanity with many amiable enes^ — with, hik 
manity, with politeness, with a de^i». to oblige in all little 
matters,, and sometimes with a real generesi^^ in great 
ones — a generosity, however, which, it often widies to dis- 
play in the' most splendid colouss that it ean. By their 
Bivakk and enemies, the French in the laet oftttury wesD 
accused of vanify; the Spaniakls of pride, aaid foreign 
nations were diiqposed to consider the one as the moie 
amiable, the other m the more respectabln^ people*. 

The words vain and vani^ are never taken in a good sense. 
We sometimes say of a man, when we are talking of him 
in good- humour, that he is the better for his vanity, or that 
his vanity is more diverting than ofiSsnsive ; hat we still 
consider it as a foible and a ridicule in his character. 

The words proud and pride, on the contrary, are some- 
times taken in a good sense. We frequently say of a man 
that he is too proud, or tiiat he has too much noble pnda, 


8BCT. WJ] OV TISTUB. 879 

ever to sJiSes bimself to do a mean thiag. Pcide is in 
ihis case confounded with magnanimitj; Aiifitotie, a 
philosopher who certainly knew tiw wodd, in drawing the 
character of the magnanimous man, paints him with many- 
features which, ia the two last centuries, wess eommonly 
ascribed to the ^ani^ character; that he was deliberate 
1b all his iQSolutions; slow aoid even tardy in all his 
actions ; Aat his voice was grave, hk speech deliberate, 
hia step and motion slow ; tiiat he appeared indolent and 
even slothful, not at all disposed to bustle al>Qut little matters, 
but to act with the most determined and vigorous resolu- 
iioB upon aU great and illustrious occasions ; that he was 
not a lover of danger, or forward to expose himself to little 
dangers, but to great dangers ; and that, when he exposed 
himedf to danger, he was altogether regardless of his life. 

The proud man is commonly too well contented widi 
himself to thinly that his character requires any amendment. 
The man who feels himself all-perfect naturally enough d^ 
apises all further improvement. His self-sufficiency and absusd 
conceit of his own superiority commonly attend him from 
hia youth to his most advanced age ; and he dies, as Hamlet 
says, with all his skis upon his head, unanointed^ unanealed. 

It is frequently quite otherwise with the vain man. The 
desire of the esteem and admiration of other people, when 
foB qualities and talents which are Ihe natusal and'proper 
objects of esteem and admiration, is the real love of true 
glory — a passion which, if not the very best passion of 
human natuie, is certainly one of the best. Yaiiity is very 
fcequently no more tiian an attempt prematurely to usnip 
that glory befere it is due. Though your son under fivei- 
ond-twenty years of age should be but a con^omb, do- not 
upon that account despair of his beeomingbe&mhe isifority 
a very wise and worthy man, and a real proficimit in dl 
those talente and virtues to which at present ha may ixnlf 


380 OF THE CHABACTEB [PABT YL 

be an ostentations and empty pretender. The great secret 
of education is to direct vanity to proper objects. Never 
cniffer him to value himself upon trivial accomplishments ; 
but do not always discourage his pretensions to those that 
are of real importance. He would not pretend to them if 
be did not earnestly desire to possess them. Encourage 
this desire ; afford him every means to facilitate the acquisi- 
tion ; and do not take take too much offence although he 
should sometimes assume the air of having attained it a 
little before the time. 

Such, I say, are the distinguishing characteristics of pride 
<and vanity, when each of them acts according to its proper 
character. But the proud man is often vain ; and the vaia 
man is often proud. Nothing can be more natural than 
that the man who thinks much more highly of himself than 
be deserves should wish that other people should think 
still more highly of him ; or that the man who wishes that 
other people should think more highly of him than he thinks 
of himself should, at the same time, think much more 
highly of himself than he deserves. Those two vices be- 
ing frequently blended in the same character, the character- 
istics of both are necessarily confounded ; and we sometimes 
find the superficial and impertinent ostentation of vanity 
joined to the most malignant and derisive insolence of pride. 
We are sometimes upon that account at a loss how to rank 
a particular character, or whether to place it among the 
proud or among the vain. 

Men of merit considerably above the common level 
sometimes underrate as well as overrate themselves. Such 
characters, though not very dignified, are often in private 
society far from being disagreeable. His companions all 
feel themselves much at their ease in the society of a man 
80 perfectly modest and unassuming. If those companions^ 
l^owever, have not both more discernment and more gene« 


SECT, ni.] OF VIRTUE. 881 

rosity than ordinary, though they may have some kindness 
for him they have seldom mnch respect ; and the warmth 
of their kindness is very seldom sufficient to compensatei 
the coldness of their respect. Men of no more than ordi- 
nary discernment never rate any person higher than he 
appears to rate himself. He seems douhtful himself, they 
say, whether he is perfectly fit for such a situation or such 
an office, and immediately give the preference to some im- 
pudent hlockhead who entertains no doubt about his own 
qualifications. Though they should have discernment, yet, 
if they want generosity, they ne\er fail to take advantage 
of his simplicity, and to assume over him an impertinent 
superiority which they are by no means entitled to. Hiet 
good nature may enable him to bear this for some time ; 
but he grows weary at last, and frequently when it is toa 
late, and when that rank which he ought to have assumed 
is lost irrecoverably, and usurped, in consequence of his 
own backwardness, by some of his more forward, though 
much less meritorious, companions. A man of this character 
must have been very fortunate in the early choice of his com- 
panions if, in going through the world, he meets always 
•with fair justice even from those whom, from his own past 
kindness, he might have some reason to consider as his 
best friends ; and a youth, too unassuming and to unam- 
bitious, is frequently followed by an insignificant, com- 
plaining, and discontented old age. 

Those unfortunate persons whom nature has formed a 
good deal below the common level, seem sometimes to rate 
^emselves still more below it than they really are. This 
humility appears sometimes to sink them into idiotism. 
Whoever has taken the trouble to examine idiots with 
attention, will find that in many of them the faculties of 
the understanding are by no means weaker than in several 
other people, who, though acknowledged to be dull and 
stupid, are not . by any body accounted idiots. Many 


182 OF THE CHARACTEB [PASTTI^ 

idiote, with no more than ordinary education, have beeA 
tau^t to read, write, and account tolerably welL Many 
persons, never accounted idiots, notwithstanding the most 
careful education, and notwithstanding that in their ad* 
Tanoed age they have had spirit enough to attempt to 
learn what their early eduoatton had not taught them, have 
never been able to acquire, in any tolerable degree, any 
one of those three accomplishments. By an instinct d 
pride, however, they set themselves upon a level with their 
equals in age and situation, and, with courage and firmneM^ 
maintain their proper station among their companions. By 
an opposite instinct the idiot feels himself below eveiy 
company into which you can introduce him. Dl usage, to 
which he is extremely liable, is capable of throwing him 
into the most violent fits of rage and fury. But no good 
usage, no kindness or indulgence, can ever raise him to 
oonverse with you as your equal. If you can bring him 
to oonverse with you at all, however, you will frequen% 
find his answers sufficiently pertinent and even sensiUe. 
But they are always stamped with a distinct consciousness 
of his own great inferiority. 

He seems to shrink, and, as it were, to retire from your 
look and conversation, and to feel when he places himself 
in your situation, that, notwithstanding your apparent con- 
descension, you cannot help considering him as immensely 
below you. Some idiots, perhaps the greater part, seem 
to be so chiefly or altogether, from a certain numbness or 
torpidity in the faculties of the understanding. But there 
are others in whom those faculties do not appear more 
torpid or benumbed than in many other people who are not 
accounted idiots. But that instinct of pride, necessary to 
support them upon an equality with their brethren, seems 
totally wanting in the former, and not in the latter. 

That degree of self-estimation, therefore, which contri- 


SECT. lU.] OF YIRTUB. ggS 

Irates most to the happinees and contentment of the person 
hims^f, seems likewise most agreeahie to the impartial 
qieetator. The man who esteems himself as he onght, 
and no more than he ought, seldom fails to ohtain from 
other peofde ail the esteem that he himself thinks dne. 
He desires no more than is due to him, and he rests iip<m 
It with complete satisfaction. 

The proud and the vain man, on the contrary, are con- 
stantly dissatisfied. The one is tormented with indigna- 
tion at the unjust superiority, as he thinks it, of other peo- 
ple ; die other is in contindal dread of the shame which he 
foresees would attend upon the detection of his groundless 
pretensions. Even the extravagant pretensions of the man 
of real magnanimity, though, when supported by splendid 
alMlities and virtues, and, above all, by good fortune, they 
impose upon the multitude, whose applauses he little re- 
gards, do not impose upon those wise men whose approba- 
tion he can only value, and whose esteem he is most anxi- 
ous to acquire. He feels that they see through, and sus- 
pects that they despise, his excessive presumption ; and he 
often suflPers the cruel misfortune of becoming, first the 
jealous and secret, and at last the open, furious, and vin- 
dictive enemy of those very persons whose friendship it 
would have given him the greatest happiness to enjoy with 
unsuspicious security. 

Though our dislike to the proud and the vain often dis- 
poses us to rank them rather below than above their pro- 
per station, yet, unless we are provoked by some particular 
and personal impertinence, we very seldom venture to use 
them ill. In common cases we endeavour for our own ease 
rather to acquiesce, and, as well as we can, to accommodate 
ourselves to their folly. But, to the man who underrates 
himself, unless we have both more discernment and more 
generosity than belong to the greater part of men, we 


384 OF THE CHAEACTEB [PABT YL 

seldom fail to do at least all the injustice which he does to' 
himself^ and frequently a great deal more. He is not only 
more unhappy in his own feelings than either the proud or 
the vain, hut he is much more liahle to every sort of ill- 
usage from other people. In almost all cases it is hetter 
to he a little too proud than in any respect too humhle ; 
and, in the sentiment of self-estimation, some degree of 
excess seems, hoth to the person himself and to the impar- 
tial spectator, to he less disagreeable than any degree of 
defect. 

In this, therefore, as well as in every other emotion, pas- 
sion and habit, the degree that is most agreeable to the im- 
partial spectator is likewise most agreeable to the person 
himself; and according as either the excess or the defect is 
least ofifensive to the former, so either the one or the other 
is in proportion least disagreeable to the latter. 


SECT, m.] OF YIBTUE. 385 


CONCLUSION OF THE SIXTH PART. 

Concern for our own happiness recommends to ns the 
virtue of prudence ; concern for that of other people, the 
virtues of justice and beneficence — of which the one re- 
strains us from hurting, the other prompts us to promote 
that happiness. Independent of any regard either to what 
are or to what ought to be, or to what upon a certain con- 
dition would be the sentiments of other people, the first of 
those three virtues is originally recommended to us by our 
selfishy the other two by our benevolent affections. Regard 
to the sentiments of other people, however, comes afterwards 
both to enforce and to direct the practice of all those virtues ; 
and no man, during either the whole course of his life or 
that of any considerable part of it, ever trod steadily and 
uniformly in the paths of prudence, of justice, or of proper 
beneficence, whose conduct was not principally directed by 
a regard to the sentiments of the supposed impartial spec- 
tator, of the great inmate of the breast, the great judge and 
arbiter of conduct. If in the course of the day we have 
swerved in any respect from the rules which he prescribes 
to us ; if we have either exceeded or relaxed in our frugality : 
if we have either exceeded or relaxed in our industry ; if 
through passion or inadvertency we have hurt in any re- 
spect the interest or happiness of our neighbour ; if we have 
neglected a plain and proper opportunity of promoting that 
interest and happiness — ^it is this inmate who in the even- 
ing calls us to an account for all those omissions and viola- 
tions, and his reproaches often make us blush inwardly, 
both for our folly and inattention to our own happiness, and 
for our still greater indifference and inattention, perhaps, to 
tliat of other people. 

2 


I 
^ 


9S6 OF THG CHARACTER [PART TL 

But though the virtues of prudence, justice, and benefi- 
cence, may upon different occasions be recommended to us 
almost equally by two different principles ; those of self- 
command are, upon most occasions, principally and almost 
entirely recommended to us by one — by the sense of pro- 
priety, by regard to the sentiments of the supposed impar- 
tial spectator. Without the restraint which this principle 
imposes, every passion would upon most occasions rush 
headlong, if I may say so, to its own gratification. Anger 
would follow the suggestions of its own fury — fear those 
of its own violent agitations. Regard to no time or place 
would induce vanity to refrain from the loudest and most, 
impertinent ostentation ; or voluptuousness from the moat 
open, indecent, and scandalous indulgence. Respect for 
what are, or for what ought to be, or for what, upon a cer* 
tain condition, would be the sentiments of other people, is 
the sole principle which upon most occasions overawes all 
those mutinous and turbulent passions into that tone and 
temper which the impartial spectator can eater into and 
sympathize with. 

Upon some occasions, indeed, those passions are restrain- 
ed, not so much by a sense of their impropriety as by pru- 
dential considerations of the bad consequences which might 
follow from their indulgence* In such cases, the passions, 
though restrained, are not always subdued, but often remain 
lurking in the breast with all their original fury. The roan 
whose anger is restrained by fear does not always lay aside 
his anger, but only reserves its gratification for a more safe 
opportunity. But the man who, in relating to some other 
person the injury which has been done to him, feels at once 
the fury of his passion cooled and becalmed by sympathy 
with the more moderate sentiments of his companion, who 
at once adopts those more moderate sentiments, and comes 
to view that injury, not in the black and atrocious colooce 




BBCT« m.J OP VIBTUE* SS7 

in whieh he had originally beheld it, but in the much mild- 
er and fairer light in which his companion naturally views 
it ; not only restrains, but in some measure subdues his 
anger. The passion becomes really less than it was before, 
and less capable of exciting him to the violent and bloody 
revenge which at first perhaps he might have thought 
of inflicting. 

Those passions which are restrained hj the sense of pro- 
priety are all in some degree moderated and subdued by 
it. But those which are restrained only by prudential con- 
siderations of any kind are, on the contrary, frequently in- 
flamed by the restraint, and sometimes (long after the pro- 
Tocalion given, and when nobody is thinking about it) burst 
out absurdly and unexpectedly, and with tenfold fury and 
triolence* 

Anger, however, as well as every other passion, may 
upon many occasions be very properly restrained by pru- 
dential considerations. Some exertion of manhood and self- 
oommand is even necessary for this sort of restraint ; and 
the impartial spectator may sometimes view it with that sort 
of cold esteem due to that species of conduct which he con- 
siders as a mere matter of vulgar prudence ; but never with 
tiiat affectionate admiration with whieh he surveys the same 
passions, when by Hie sense of propriety, they are mode- 
rated and subdued to what he himself can readily enter in- 
to. In the former species of restraint he may frequefitly 
discern some degree of propriety, and, if you will, even. of 
Tirtae ; but it is a propriety and virtue of a much inferior 
order to those which he always feels with transport and 
admiration in the latter. 

The virtues of prudence, justice, and beneficence, haive nd 
tendency to produce any but the most agreeable effects. 
Regard to those effects, as it originally recommends them 


388 OP THE GHABAGTEB OP VIRTUE. [PART TI. 

to the actor, so does it afterwards to the impartial spec- 
tator. In our approbation of the character of the pmdent 
man, we feel with peculiar complacency the security which 
he must enjoy while he walks under the safeguard of 
that sedate and deliberate virtue. In our approbation of 
the character of the just man, we feel with equal compla- 
cency the security which all those connected with him, 
whether in neighbourhood, society, or business, must de- 
rive from his scrupulous anxiety never either to hurt or of- 
fend. In our approbation of the character of the beneficent 
man, we enter into the gratitude of all those who are with- 
in the sphere of his good offices, and conceive with them 
the highest sense of his merit. In our approbation of all 
those virtues, our sense of their agreeable effects, of their 
utility, either to the person who exercises them or to some 
other persons, joins with our sense of their propriety, and 
constitutes always a considerable, frequently the greater, 
part of that approbation. 

But in our approbation of the virtues of self-conimand, 
complacency with their effects sometimes constitutes no 
part, and frequently but a small part, of that approbation. 
Those effects may sometimes be agreeable, and sometimes 
disagreeable; and though our approbation is no doubt 
stronger in the former case, it is by no means altogether 
destroyed in the latter. The most heroic valour may be 
employed indifferently in the cause either of justice or of 
injustice ; and though it is no doubt much more loved and 
admired in the former case, it still appears a great and re- 
spectable quality even in the latter. In that, and in all the 
other virtues of self-command, the splendid and dazzling 
quality seems always to be the greatness and steadiness of 
the exertion, and the strong sense of propriety which is ne- 
cessary in order to make and to maintain that exertion. 
The effects are too often but too little regarded. 


B"^!^^l 


THE 


THEORY OF MORAL SENTIMENTS. 


Ipart Sriintt!). 


OF SYSTEMS OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY: 


CONSISTING OF FOUB SECTIONS. 


m* 


SECTION I 

OF THE QUESTIONS WHICH OUGHT TO BB EXAMINED 
IN A THSOBY OF MORAL SEIIfTIMSNTS. 

If we examine the most celebrated and rejmarkable of the 
different theories which have been given concerning the 
nature and origin of our moral sentiments, we shall find 
that almost all of them coincide with some part or other of 
that which I have been endeavouring to give an Account of; 
and that if everj thing which has already been said be iully 
considered, we shall be at no loss to explain what was the 
view or aspect of nature which led eaeh particular author to 
form his particular system. From some one or other of 
those principles which I have been endeavouring to unfold, 
every system of morality that ever had any reputation in 
the world has, perhaps, ultimately been derived. As they 
are all of them in this respect founded upon natural priit- 
ciples, they are all of them in some measure in the right. 
But as many of them are derived from a partial and imper- 
fect view of nature, there are mapy of them, too, in some 
respects in the wrong. 

In treating of the principles of morals there are two Ques- 
tions to be considered. First, wherein does virtue consist — 
or what is the tone of temper, and tenor of conduct, which 
constitutes the excellent and praiseworthy character, the 
character which is the natural object of esteem, honour, and 
approbation ? And, secondly, by what power or faculty in 
the mind is it that this character, whatever it be, is recom- 
mended to us? or, in other words, how and by what means 
does it come to pass, that the mind prefers one tenor of 
conduct to another; denominates the one right and the other 


892 OFcnrsTEHs [pakttil 

wrong; considers the one as the objeet of approbation, 
honour, and reward, and the other of blame, censure, and 
punishment? 

We examine the first question when we consider whether 
Tirtue consists in benevolence, as Dr Hutcheson imagines- 
or in acting suitably to the different relations we stand in, 
as Dr Clarke supposes ; or in the wise and prudent pursuit 
of our own real and solid happiness, as has been the opinion 
of others. 

We examine the second question, when we consider 
whether the virtuous character, whatever it consists in, be 
recommended to us by self-love, which makes us perceive 
that this character, both in ourselves and others, tends most 
to promote our own private interest ; or by reason, which 
points out to us the difference between one character and 
another, in the same manner as it does that between truth 
and falsehood ; or by a peculiar power of perception, called 
a moral sense, which this virtuous character gratifies and 
pleases, as the contrary disgusts and displeases it ; or, last 
of all, by some other principle in human nature, such as a 
modification of sympathy, or the like. 

I shall begin with considering the systems which have 
been formed concerning the first of these questions, and 
shall proceed afterwards to examine those concerning the 
second* 


SECT, n.] OF MORAL PHnX)80PHT. 398 


SECTION II. 

OF THE DEFERENT ACCOUNTS WHICH HAVE BEEN 
GIVEN OF THE NATURE OF VIRTUE, 


INTRODUCTION. 

Thb dififerent accoants which have been given of the 
nature of virtue, or of the temper of mind which constitutes 
the excellent and praiseworthy character, may be reduced 
to three different classes. According to some, the virtu- 
ous temper of mind does not consist in any one species of 
affections, but in the proper government and direction of all 
our affections, which may be either virtuous or vicious, ac- 
cording to the objects which they pursue, and the degree of 
vehemence with which tfiey pursue them. According to 
these authors, therefore, virtue consists in propriety. 

According to others, virtue consists in the judicious pur- 
suit of our own private interest and happiness, or in the pro- 
per government and direction of those selfish affections 
which aim solely at this end. In the opinion of these au- 
thors, therefore, virtue consists in prudence. 

Another set of authors make virtue consist in those af- 
fections only which aim at the happiness of others, not in 
those which aim at our own. According to them, therefore^ 
disinterested benevolence is the only motive which can 
stamp upon any action the character of virtue. 

The character of virtue, it is evident, must either be 


S84 op0m>nfs [pasttil 

aseribed indifferently to all our affections, when under pro- 
per government and direction, or it must be confined to 
some one class or division of tbem. The great division of 
our affections is into the selfish and the benevolent. If the 
character of virtue, therefore, cannot be ascribed indiffereni- 
fy to all our affections, when under proper goremtnent and 
direction, It must be confined either to those which aim di- 
rectly at our own private happiness, or to those which aim 
directly at that of others. If virtue, therefore, does not 
consist in propriety, it must consist either in prudence or 
in benevolence. Besides these three, it is scarce possible 
to imagine that any other account can be given of the na- 
ture of virtue. I shall endeavour to shew hereafter how all 
ike other accounts, which are seemingly different from any 
9i liMM, eoineide at bottom with some one or other of fliem. 


r. 
i 


8£GT. II.] OF MOBAL VHILOSOPIIY. 895 


CHAPTER L 

Of those StfBtems which make Virtue consist in Froprieiy. 

AccoRDiKG to Plato, to Aristotle, and to Zeno, virtue 
consists in the propriety of conduct, or in the suitableness 
of the affection from which we act to the object which ex- 
cites it. 

I. In the system of Plato,*, the soul is considered as some- 
thing like a little state or republic, composed of three diffe- 
rent Acuities or orders. 

The first is the judging faculty— the faculty which detet- 
tiiinet not only what are the proper means for attaining any 
end, but also what ends are fit to be pursued, and what de- 
gree of relative value we ought to put upon each. This fa- 
culty Plato called, as it is very properly called, Reason, and 
considered it as what had a right to be the governing prin- 
ciple of the whole. Under this appellation, it is evident, he 
comprehended not only that faculty by which we judge of 
truth and falsehood, but that by which we judge of the pro- 
priety €T impropriety of desires and affections. 

The different passions and appetites, the natural subject 
of tkia ruling principle, but which are so apt to rebel against 
their master, he reduced to two different classes or orders. 
The first consisted of those passions which are founded in 
pride and resentment, or in what the schoolmen call the 
irascible part of the soul ; ambition, animosity, the love of 
honour and the dread of shame, the desire of victory, supe- 
riori^, and revenge ; all those passions, in short, whick 

* See Pl«to de Bep. lib. iT. 


396 OF SYSTEM? [PABT YIL 

are supposed either to rise from, or to denote what, hy a 
metaphor in our language, we commonly call spirit or na- 
tural fire. The second consisted of those passions which are 
founded in the love of pleasure, or in what the schoolmen 
called the concupiscible part of the soul. It comprehended 
all the appetites of the body, the love of ease and security, 
and of all sensual gratifications. 

It rarely happens that we break in upon that plan of con- 
duct which the governing principle prescribes, and which 
in all our cool hours we had laid down to ourselves as what 
was most proper for us to pursue, but when prompted by 
one or other of those two different sets of passions — either 
by ungovernable ambition and resentment, or by the impor- 
tunate solicitations of present ease and pleasure. But though 
these two orders of passions are so apt to mislead us, they 
are still considered as necessary parts of human nature; the 
first having been given to defend us against injuries, to as- 
sert our rank and dignity in the world, to make us aim at 
what is noble and honourable, and to make us distinguish 
those who act in the same manner ; the second, to provide 
for the support and necessities of the body. 

In the strength, acuteness, and perfection of the governing 
principle was placed the essential virtue of prudence, which, 
according to Plato, consisted in a just and clear discernment, 
founded upon general and scientific ideas of the ends which 
were proper to be pursued, and of the means which were 
proper for attaining them. 

When the first set of passions, those of the irascible part 
of the soul, had that degree of strength and firmness which 
enabled them, under the direction of reason, to despise all dan- 
gers in the pursuit of what was honourable and noble ; it con* 
stituted the virtue of fortitude and magnanimity. This order 
of passions, according to this system, was of a more generous 


SECT, n.] OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY. 397 

and noble nature than the other. They were considered 
upon many occasions as the auxiliaries of reason, to check 
and restrain the inferior and brutal appetites. We are often 
angry at ourselves, it was observed, we often become the 
objects of our own resentment and indignation, when the 
love of pleasure prompts to do what we disapprove of ; and 
the irascible part of our nature is in this manner called in 
to assist the rational against the concupiscible. 

When all those three different parts of our nature were 
in perfect concord with one another, when neither the 
irascible nor concupiscible passions ever aimed at any gra- 
tification which reason did not approve of, and when reason 
never commanded any thing but what these of their own 
accord were willing to perform ; this happy composure, this 
perfect and complete harmony of soul, constituted that 
virtue which in their language is expressed by a word 
which we commonly translate Temperance, but which might 
more properly be translated good temper, or sobriety and 
moderation of mind. 

Justice, the last and greatest of the four cardinal virtues, 
took place, according to this system, when each of those 
three faculties of the mind confined itself to its proper office, 
without attempting to encroach upon that of any other ; 
when reason directed and passion obeyed, and when each 
passion performed its proper duty, and exerted itself towards 
its proper object, easily and without reluctance, and with 
that degree of force and energy, which was suitable to the 
value of what it pursued. In this consisted that complete 
virtue, that perfect propriety of conduct, which Plato, after 
some of the ancient Pythagoreans, denominated Justice. 

The word, it is to be observed, which expresses justice 
in the Oreek language has several different meanings ; and 
as the correspondent word in all other languages, so far as 


898 OF STSTBiis [part tu. 

I know, has the same, there must be some natural affinity 
among those various significations. In one sense we are 
said to do justice to our neighbour when we abstfun from 
doing him any positive harm, and do not directly hurt him, 
either in his person, or in his estate, or in his reputation. 
This is that justice which I have treated of above, the ob- 
servance of which may be extorted by force, and the viola- 
tion of which exposes to punishment. In another sense we 
are said not to do justice to our neighbour unless we con- 
eeive for him all that love, respect, and esteem, which his 
character, his situation, and his connection with ourselves, 
render suitable and proper for us to feel, and unless we act 
accordingly. It is in this sense that we are said to do xn« 
justice to a man of merit who is connected with us, though 
we abstain from hurting him in every respect, if we do not 
exert ourselves to serve him, and to place him in that situa- 
tion in which the impartial spectator would be pleased to 
see him. The first sense of the word coincides with what 
Aristotle and the schoolmen call commutative justice, and 
with what Grotius calls the justitia expldrixj which consists 
in abstaining from what is another's, and in doing volunta- 
rily whatever we can with propriety be forced to do. The 
second sense of the word coincides with what some have 
called distributive justice,* and with the justitia {UtHbtdrix 
of Grotius, which consists in propw beneficence, in the be- 
coming use of what is our own, and in tiie applying it to 
those purposes, either of charity or generosity, to which it 
is most suitable in our situation that it should be applied. 
In this sense justice comprehends all the social virtues. 
There is yet another sense in which the word justice is 
sometimes taken, still more extensive than either of the 
former, though very much akin to the last ; and which 

* The diftrihatiTe jnsdoe of iuristode is lomeirfut ffiffereot. It con- 
«ftto in the pn^per dUtribution of revardi from the paUio atoek of a 
fompiinity. J9e9 Aristotle Sthio. Nic, Ir.e, 2. 


8BCT. U.] OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY. 8M 

runs too, so* far as I know, tlurough all languages. It is in 
this last sense that we are said to be unjust, when we do 
not seem to value any particular object with that de^*ee of 
esteem, or to pursue it with that degree of ardour which to 
the impartial spectator it may appear to deserve or to be 
naturally fitted for exciting. Thus we are said to do in-^ 
justice to a poem or a picture when we do not admire 
them enough, and we are said to do them more than justice 
when we admire them too much. In the same manner we 
are said to do injustice to ourselves when we appear not to 
give sufficient attention to any particular object of self- 
interest. In this last sense, what is called justice means the 
same thing with exact and perfect propriety of conduct and 
behaviour, and comprehends in it not only the offices of 
both commutative and distributive justice, but of every 
other virtue, of prudence, of fortitude, of temperance. It is 
in this last sense that Plato evidently understands what he 
calls justice, and which, therefore, aeeording to him, com- 
prehends in it the perfection of every sort of virtue. 

Such is the account given by Plaio of the nature of vir* 
tiie, or of that temper of mind which i» the proper object of 
praise and approbation. It consists, according to him, in 
that state of mind in which every faculty confines itself 
within its proper sph^e, without encroaching upon that of 
any other, and performs its proper office with that precise 
degree .of strength and vigour which belongs to it. His 
account, it is evident, coincides in every respect with what 
we have said above concerning the propriety of conduct 

II. yirtue> according to Aristotle^* consists in the habit 
of mediocrity according to right reason. Every partioidar 
virtue, according to hiin» lies in a kind of middle betweeB 
two oppointe vices, of which the one offends from being too 

* See Aristotle, Ethic. Kic. 1. ii e. 5, et seq; eti lii. c. 6, et seq. 


n 


400 OF SYSTEMS [pART TO* 

much, the other from being too little, affected by a particu- 
lar species of objects. Thus the virtue of fortitude or 
courage lies in the middle between the opposite vices of 
cowardice and of presumptuous rashness, of which the one 
offends from being too much, and the other from being too 
little, affected hj the objects of fear. Thus, too, the virtue 
of frugality lies in a middle between avarice and profusion, 
of which the one consists in an excess, the other in a defect, 
of the proper attention to the objects of self-interest. Mag- 
nanimity, in the same manner, lies in a middle between the 
excess of arrogance and the defect of pusillanimity, of which 
the one consists in too extravagant, the other in too weak, 
a sentiment of our own worth and dignity. It is unneces- 
sary to observe, that this account of virtue corresponds too 
pretty exactly with what has been said above concerning 
the propriety and impropriety of conduct 

According to Aristotle,* indeed, virtue did not so much 
consist in those moderate and right affections as in the habit 
of this moderation. In order to understand this, it is to be 
observed, that virtue may be considered either as the qua- 
lity of an action or as the quality of a person. Considered 
as the quality of an action, it consists, even according to 
Aristotle, in the reasonable moderation of the affection from 
which the action proceeds, whether this disposition be habi- 
tual to the person or not. Considered as the quality of a 
person, it consists in the habit of this reasonable moderation, 
in its having become the customary and usual disposition 
of the mind. Thus the action which proceeds from an oc- 
casional fit of generosity is undoubtedly a generous action, 
but the man who performs it is not necessarily a generous 
person, because it may be the single action of the kind 
which he ever performed. The motive and disposition of 
heart from which this action was performed may have been 

* See Aristotle, Ethic. Nic. lib. it. ch. 1, 2, 8, and 4. 


1] 


SECT, n.] OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY. 401 

quite just and proper ; but as this happy mood seems to 
have been the effect rather of accidental humour than of any 
thing steady or permanent in the character, it can rcdect no 
great honour on the performer. When we denominate a 
character generous or charitable, or virtuous in any respect, 
we mean to signify that the disposition expressed by each 
of those appellations is the usual and customary disposition 
of. the person. But single actions of any kind, how proper 
and suitable soever, are of little consequence to shew that 
this is the case. If a single action was sufficient to stamp 
the character of any virtue tipon the person who performed 
it, the most worthless of mankind might lay claim to all the 
virtues ; since there is no man who has not, upon some oc- 
casions, acted with prudence, justice, temperance, and for- 
titude. But though single actions, how laudable soever, 
reflect very little praise upon the person who performs them, 
a single vicious action, performed by one whose conduct is 
usually very regular, greatly diminishes, and sometimes 
destroys altogether, our opinion of his virtue. A single 
action of this kind sufficiently shews that his habits are not 
perfect, and that he is less to be depended upon than, from 
the usual train of his behaviour, we might have been apt to 
imagine. 

Aristotle, too,* when he made virtue to consist in practi- 
cal habits, had it probably in his view to oppose the doc- 
trine of Plato, who seems to have been of opinion, that just 
sentiments and reasonable judgments concerning what was 
fit to be done or to be avoided were alone sufficient to con- 
stitute the most perfect virtue. Virtue, according to Plato, 
might be considered as a species of science, and no man, he 
thought, could see clearly and demonstratively what was 
right and what was wrong, and not act accordingly. Pas- 
sion might make us act contrary to doubtful and uncertain 


* See Aristotle, Mag. Mor. lib. i. ch. 1. 

2 D 


408 OF ffrsTEXg [ 

opinions, not to plata and evident judgmenti. AriBtotley on 
the contrsiy, was of opi&ion, that no conviction of tlK un- 
derstanding was capable of getting the better of inveterate 
habits, and that good morals arose not firom> knowledge hot 
&om actiont, 

III. According to Zeno,* the focmcle]? of the Stoioal doe- 
trine, every animal was by nature' reconm^ided to its own 
care, and was endowed with the principle of se^Iorve, thut 
it might en^avour to preserve, not only its essbtence^ hut 
all the different parts of itis nature, in the hesiand most per- 
fect state of which they were capable. 

The self-love of man embvaoed, if I may sayaoy hin body 
and all its different members, his mind and a^ itet- dififennt 
faculties and powers, and desired the preservation: and main- 
tenance of them allin> Hieir best and most perfect condition. 
Whatever tended to support this state of existence was, 
tiierefore, by notore pointed out to him as fit to be chosen; 
and whatever tended to destroy it, as fit to be rejected. 
Thus health, strengl^, ^lity, and ease of body, as w^ 
as the external convenieneies which couM- promote tbese; 
wealth, power, honours, the respect and esteem of tiioee we 
live with, were naturally pointed out to us as things eligible, 
and of which Ihe possession was preferable to the want. On 
the o(^r hand, ucknes^ infirmity, unwieldioess, pain ci 
body, as well as all the external inconveniencies whioh tend 
to occasion or bring on any of them, poverty, the want d 
authority, the contempt or hatred of those we live wit)^ 
were in the some manner pointed out to us as things to bt 
shunned and avoided. In each of those two opposite classes 
of objects there were some which appeared to be more th« 
objects either of choice or rejection than others in the 


* See Cicero de finibns, lib. iii. ; also Diogenes Laertius in Zenone^ 
lib. vii. segment 84. 


^^i 


. IBCT.. U.] OF HOUkL VSOOSOPHY. ^3 

duig. Thn^ in tile first ol^^f beiilth appeared evidently 
pi^ferable to s<a*ength, and strength to agility — crepitation 
la f&ymTy and power to riebes* And thus, too, in the second 
dass, sieknesis was more to be avoided than nnwieMiness of 
be(4y, igtboamy them poverty, and povertythan the loss of 
power. Virtue and the- propriety of eonduet consisted in 
loosing an^ rejecting ail different objects^ and circumstances 
aoeording as they were by nature rendered more or less the 
objects of choice or re^ctiowf iff seleefang always from 
mnong tiie se^evai objects of choice pvesested to us, that 
which w«s most to be chosen, wh«ni< we* eould not obfoin 
them all ; and in selecting, iw, out of ^e^ sevei^l objects 
of rejection offered tO' us, that which was leiElst to be avoided, 
when it was not in our power to avoid them all*. By ehoos- 
ing and rejecting with this just and aceurate discernment, 
by thus bestowing upon every objeet the precise degree of 
flttention it deserved, according to the place which it held 
m thiB- natural scale €f£ things, we maintained, according to 
tite Btoics, that perfect rectitude of conduct which eonsti- 
toted' the essence of virtue. This was what t^ey called to 
Mi^ eonsistimdy, to live according to natui^v ^^ ^ ^^7 
tfkoee laws and directions which nature, or the AtnAidv of na^ 
toro, had' prescribed for. our conduct 

So far the Stoical idea erf propriety and virtue is not very 
different from that of Aristotle and t^e ancient Peripatetics. 

Among t^ose primary objects which nature had recom^ 
mended to us as^ eligible, was the prosperity of our family, 
of our relations, of our friends, of our country, of mankind, 
imd of the universe in general. I^ature, too, had Ixiught us, 
lliat as the: prosperity of two was preferable to that of one, 
that of many, or of all, must be infinitely more so. That 
we ourselves were but one, and that, consequently, wherever 
our prosperity was inconsistent with that, either of the whole 
or of any considerable part of the whole; it ought, even in 


404 OF BTSTEMS [pART YH. 

our own choice, to yield to what was so vastij preferable. 
As all the events in this world were conducted by the provi- 
dence of a wise, powerful, and good God, we might be as- 
sured that whatever happened tended to the prosperity and 
perfection of the whole. If we ourselves, therefore, weie 
in poverty, in sickness, or in any other calamity, we ought, 
first of all, to use our utmost endeavours, so far as justice 
and our duty to others would allow, to rescue ourselves from 
this disagreeable circumstance. But if, after all we could 
do, we found this impossible, we ought to rest satisfied that 
the order and perfection of the universe required that we 
should, in the meantime, continue in this situation. And 
as the prosperity of the whole should even to us appear 
preferable to so insignificant a part as ourselves, our situa- 
tion, whatever it was, ought from that moment to become 
the object of our liking, if we would maintain that complete 
propriety and rectitude of sentiment and conduct in which 
consisted the perfection of our nature. If, indeed, any op- 
portunity of extricating ourselves should offer, it became 
our duty to embrace it. The order of the universe, it was 
evident, no longer required our continuance in this situation, 
and the great Director of the world plainly called upon us 
to leave it, by so clearly pointing out the road which we were 
to follow. It was the same case with the adversity of our 
relations, our friends, our country. If, without violating 
any more sacred obligation, it was in our power to prevent 
or put an end to their calamity, it undoubtedly was our duty 
to do so. The propriety of action, the rule which Jupiter 
had given us for the direction of our oonduct, evidently re- 
quired this of us. But if it was altogether out of our power 
to do either, we ought then to consider this event as the 
most fortunate which could possibly have happened; be- 
cause we might be assured that it tended most to the pro- 
sperity and order of the whole, which was what we ourselves, 
if we were wise and equitable, ought most of all to desire. 
It was our own final interest considered as a part of that 


BECT. II.] OP MORAL PHILOSOPHY. 405 

whole, of which the prosperity ought to be not only the 
principal but the sole object of our desire. 

" In what sense," says Epictetus, " are some things said 
to be according to our nature, and others contrary to it ? — it 
is in that sense in which we consider ourselves as separated 
and detached from all other things. For thus it may be 
said to be according to the nature of the foot to be always 
cleans But if you consider it as a foot, and not as some- 
thing detached from the rest of the body, it must behove it 
sometimes to trample in the dirt, and sometimes to tread 
upon thorns, and sometimes, too, to be cut off for the sake of 
the whole body ; and if it refuses this, it is no longer a foot. 
Thus, too, ought we to conceive with regard to ourselves. 
What are you ? — a man. If you consider yourself as some- 
thing separated and detached, it is agreeable to your nature 
to live to old age, to be rich, to be in health. But if you 
consider yourself as a man, and as a part of a whole, upon 
account of that whole it will behove you sometimes to be 
in sickness, sometimes to be exposed to the inconyeniency 
of a sea- voyage, sometimes to be in want ; and at last, per- 
haps, to die before your time. Why then do you complain? 
do not you know that by doing so, as the foot ceases to be 
a foot, so you cease to be a man ?" 

A wise man never complains of the destiny of Providence, 
nor thinks the universe in confusion when he is out of order. 
He does not look upon himself as a whole, separated and 
detached from every other part of nature, to be taken care of 
by itself and for itself: he regards himself in the light in 
which he imagines the great genius of human nature, and of 
the world, regards him : he enters, if I may say so, into the 
sentiments of that divine Being, and considers himself as an 
atom, a particle, of an immense and infinite system, which 
must and ought to be disposed of according to the conve- 
niency of the whole Assured of the wisdom which directs 


406 OP BYAr^acs [pabt m. 

all the events of human life, wliatever lot befalls him, he ac- 
cepts it with joy, satisfied that, if he had kmown all the 
connections and dependencies of the different parts of the 
universe, it is the very lot which he himself would have 
wished for. If it is life, he is contented to live ; and if it ii 
death, as nature must have no further oeoaeioa for his pre- 
sence here, he willingly goes where he is aj^>oinied. ^' I ac- 
cept, '' said a cynical philosopher, whose doctrines were in 
this respect the same as those of the Stoics — ^' I mccept with 
equal joy and satisfaction whatever foftuiD« can befall me — 
riches or poverty, pleasure or pain, health or sidkness, all 
is alike ; nor would I desire that Ihe gods should in any re- 
sect change my destination. If I was to ask of them any 
thing beyond what their bounty has already bestowed, it 
should be that they would inform me beforehand what it was 
their pleasure fihonld be done with me, ihat I might of my own 
accord place myself in this situation, and d^nonstrate the 
cheerfulness with which I embraced their allotment." — *' If I 
am going to sail," says Epietetus, ^^ I ehoose the best shipand 
the best pilot, and I wait for the fairciSt weather that my 
circumstances and duty will allow. Prudence and pro- 
priety, the principles which the gods have given me for the 
direction of my conduct, require this of rae, but <hey require 
no more ; and if, notwithstanding, a storm arises, iriiich 
neither the strength of the vessel nor the skiU of the pilot 
are likely to withstand, I give myself no troa1;de about the 
consequence. All that I had to do is done already. The 
directors of my conduct never command me to be miserable, 
to be anxious, de^onding, or afraid* Whether we are to 
be drowned, or to come to a haxbour, is the business <^ Ju- 
piter, not mine. I leave it entirely to his determinatioB, 
nor ever break my rest with eonsiderijig whidi way ho la 
likely to decide it, but receive whatever oomes with equMl 
indifference and security/' 

Pfom this perfect eonfidenee in that beoeyokiit wisdom 


gBCT. n.] OF MORAIi ^PHILOSOPHY. 407 

winch governs the -amverse, and from this entire resigna- 
tion to whatever Kwder that wisdom might think proper te 
establish, it neoessMrily followed, that to the Stoicd wise 
man all tlie events of human life mnst be in a great measure 
xBdifferent. His happiness consisted altogether, first, in the 
contemplation of the happiness Bnd peifection of the great 
syiN;em of tSie mdverse, of the good goveiaiment of the gretft 
repablic of gods and men, of all rational and sensible beings; 
and, secondly, in discharging his duty, in acting properly 
in the affairs of this great republic whatever little part that 
wisdom had assigned to him. The propriety or impropriety 
of his endeavours might be of great consequence to him. 
l%eir miccess or disappointment could be of none at all — 
could excite no passionate joy or sorrow, no passionate de- 
are or aversion. If he preferred sonw events to odiers, if 
some ffltuations were the objects of his choice and others of 
las rejection, it was not because he regarded the one as in 
themselves in any respect better &an the other, or thought 
fhat his own happiness would be more complete in what is 
called the fortunate than in what is regarded as the distress- 
ful situation; but because 1^ propriety of action, the rule 
which the gods had ^ven him for the direction of liis con- 
duct, required him to choose and reject in this manner. AB 
his affections were absorbed and swallowed up in two great 
affections — ^in that for the discharge of his own duty, and in 
that for the greatest possible happiness of all rational and 
sensible beings. For l^e gratilcation of this latter affec- 
tion, he rested -with the most perfect Becuiity upon the wis- 
dom and power of Ihe great Superintendent of the universe. 
His sole anxiety was about the gratification of the former ; 
not about the event, but about the propriety of he own en- 
deavours. Whatever the event might be, he trusted to a 
snperioT power and wisdom for turning it to promote that 
great end which he himself was most desirous of promoting. 

This propriety of choosing and rejecting, &ough origi- 


408 OP SYSTEMB [part VII. 

nally pointed out to us, and, as it were, recommended and 
introduced to our acquaintance by the things, and for the 
sake of the things, chosen and rejected ; yet when we had 
once become thoroughly acquainted with it, the order, the 
grace, the beauty, which we discerned in this conduct, the 
happiness which we felt resulted from it, necessarily appear- 
ed to us of much greater value than the actual obtaining of 
all the different objects of choice, or the actual avoiding of 
all those of rejection. From the observation of this pro- 
priety arose the happiness and the glory ; from the neglect 
of it the misery and the disgrace of human nature. 

But to a wise man, to one whose passions were brought 
under perfect subjection to the ruling principles of his na- 
ture, the exact observation of this propriety was equally 
easy upon all occasions. Was he in prosperity, he returned 
thanks to Jupiter for having joined him with circumstances 
which were easily mastered, and in which there was little 
temptation to do wrong. Was he in adversity, he equally 
returned thanks to the director of this spectacle of human 
life for having opposed to him a vigorous athlete, over 
whom, though the contest was likely to be more violent, 
the victory was more glorious, and equally certain. Can 
there be any shame in that distress which is brought upon 
us without any fault of our own, and in which we behave 
with perfect propriety ! There can, therefore, be no evil, 
but, on the contrary, the greatest good and advantage. A 
brave man exults in those dangers in which, from no rash- 
ness of his own, his fortune has involved him. They afford 
an opportunity of exercising that heroic intrepidity, whose 
exertion gives the exalted delight which flows from the con- 
sciousness of superior propriety and deserved admiration. 
One who is master of all his exercises has no aversion to 
measure his strength and activity with the strongest. And, 
in the same manner, one who is master of all his passions 
does not dread any circumstance in which the Superintend- 


SECT, n.] OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY. 409 

ent of the universe may think proper to place him. The 
hounty of that divine Being has provided him with virtues 
which render him superior to every situation. If it is plea- 
sure, he has temperance to refrain from it ; if it is pain, he 
has constancy to bear it ; if it is danger or death, he has 
magnanimity and fortitude to despise it. The events of 
human life can never find him unprepared, or at a loss how 
to maintain that propriety of sentiment and conduct which, 
in his own apprehension, constitutes at once his glory and 
ids happiness. 

Human life the Stoics appear to have considered as a 
game of great skill ; in which, however, there was a mix- 
ture of chance, or of what is vulgarly understood to be 
chance. In such games the stake is commonly a trifle, and 
the whole pleasure of the game arises from playing well, 
from playing fairly, and playing skilfully. If, notwithstand- 
ing all his skill, however, the good player should, by the 
influence of chance, happen to lose, the loss ought to be a 
matter rather of merriment than of serious sorrow. He has 
made no false stroke ; he has done nothing which he ought 
to be ashamed of ; he has enjoyed completely the whole 
pleasure of the game. If, on the contrary, the bad player, 
notwithstanding all his blunders, should in the same manner 
happen to win, his success can give him but little satisfac* 
tion. He is mortified by the remembrance of all the faults 
which he committed. Even during the play he can enjoy 
no part of the pleasure which it is capable of affording. 
From ignorance of the rules of the game, fear and doubt 
and hesitation are the disagreeable sentiments that precede 
almost every stroke which he plays ; and when he has played 
it, the mortification of finding it a gross blunder commonly 
completes the unpleasing circle of his sensations. Human 
lifd, with all the advantages which can possibly attend it, 
ought, according to the Stoics, to be regarded but as a mere 
twopenny stake — a matter by far too insignificant to merit 


410 O? SYSTEMS f PAST TZL 

any anxkms tsoncern. Our only anxious concern ought te 
be, not about the stake but about ike proper metbod of 
playing. If we placed our happiness in winning the stake, 
we placed it in what depended upon causes beyond oor 
power and out of oar direction. We necessarily exposed 
ourselves to perpetual fear and uneasiness, and frequently 
to grievous and mortifying disappointments. If we placed 
it in playing well, in playing fairly, in playing wis^y and 
skilfully, in the propriety of our own ccHiduct, in short, we 
placed it in what, by proper discipline, education, and atten- 
tion, might be altogether in our own power, and under our 
own direction. Our happiness was perfectly secure, and 
beyond the reach, of fortune. The event of our actions, if 
it was out of our power, was equally out of our coacen, 
and we could never feel either fear or anxiety about it, nor 
ever suffer any grievous or even any serious disappoint* 
ment. 

Human life itself, ss well as every different advaatage er 
disadvantage which can attend it, mi^it, they said, aoeord- 
ing to di&rent circumstanoes, be the proper Object eicher of 
our dioiee or ai our rejection. If in our actual situatiQii 
there were more cireuflistances agreeable to nature than eon- 
tiary to it — more cireoinstanoes which were the objects of 
dioice than of rejecUon — ^life in this case wa«, upos the 
whole, the proper object <^ choie^, and the propriety of con- 
duct required that we should remain in it. If, on the odier 
hand, there were in our actual situation, without any pro- 
bable hope of amendment, more circwn stances contraiy to 
nature than agreeable to it — ^more circumstances which were 
&6 objects of rejection than of choice — ^life itself in thta case 
became to a wise man the object of rejection, and he was 
not only at liberty to remove out of it, but the propriety of 
oondnet, the rule which the gods had given him for the 
divectic»i of his condjict, required him to do so. ^' I am or* 
deied," says Epictetus, <^ not to dwell at Nicopolis. I do not 


8BCT. I^] OF MOBAL PBiLOfOPHY. 411 

dwdl there. I aia ordered net to dwell at Atheras. I do 
Bot dwell At Athens. I am ordered not to dwell m Rome. 
I do not dwell in Some. I am oixlered to dwell in the little 
and rocky island of Gyarse. I go and dwell there. But 
the house smokes in Gyars. If 'the smoke m modenute I 
will bear it, and stay there. If h is exeessive, I will go to 
a house from whence no tyrant can remove xne. I keep on 
mind always that the door is ofen, that I can walk o«t 
when I please, and retire to that hospitable house which hi 
at all times open to all the world ; for beyond my nndermost 
garment, beyond my body, no man living has any power 
over me." If yonr situation is upon the whole disagreeaye 
^f your house amokes too mueh for you, said -the Stoics, 
walk forth by all means ; but widk fcNrth willioot repining, 
without marmoriag or o<;».plaining. Walk forth cid», «o^ 
tented, rejoicing, returning thanks to the gods, who, irom 
their infinite bounty, have opened the aafe and quiet har- 
bour of dealli, at all times ready to receive us from the 
stormy oceui of human life ; who have prepared thie aacred, 
this inviolable, this great asylum, always open, always ae* 
cessible — altogether beyond the reach of human rage and 
injustice, and large enough to contain bo^ all i^ose who 
wish, and all those who do not wish, to retire to it; an asy- 
lum which takes away &om every man every pretence af 
complaining, ot even of fancying that there can be any evil 
in human life except such as he may suffer from his own 
folly and weaknesa. 

The Stoics, in the few fragments of dieir philosopher 
which have eome down to us, sometimes talk of leaving life 
with a gaiety, and even with a levity, which, were we to 
consider those passages by themselves, might induce us to 
believe that they imagined we could with propriety leave it 
whenever we had a inind, wantonly and capriciousiy, upon 
ihB slightest disgust or uneasiness. '^ When you sap with 
SQffih a person," says £pietetuS| ^ you cooaplaitt of the ioi^ 


412 OF SYSTEUS [f^LBT TU. 

«iorie8 which he tells you about his Mysian wars. ' Now, 
mj friend,' says he, ' having told you how I took posses- 
sion of an eminence at such a place, I will tell you how I 
was besieged in such another place/ But if you have a 
mind not to be troubled with his long stories, do not accept 
of his supper. If you accept of his supper, you have not 
the least pretence to complain of his long stories. It is the 
same case with what you call the evils of human life. Never 
complain of that of which it is at all times in your power to 
rid yourself.'' Notwithstanding this gaiety and even levity 
of expression, however, the alternative of leaving life, or of 
remaining in it, was, according to the Stoics, a matter of 
the most serious and important deliberation. We ought 
never to leave it till we were distinctly called upon to do 
60 by that superintending Power which had originally placed 
us in it. But we were to consider ourselves as called upon 
to do so, not merely at the appointed and unavoidable term 
of human life. Whenever the providence of that superin- 
tending Power had rendered our condition in life upon the 
whole the proper object rather of rejection than of choice, 
the great rule which he had given us for the direction of 
our conduct then required us to leave it. We might then 
be said to hear the awful and benevolent voice of that divine 
Being distinctly calling upon us to do so. 

It was upon this account that, according to the Stoics, 
it might be the duty of a wise man to remove out of life 
though he was perfectly happy ; while, on the contrary, it 
might be the duty of a weak man to remain in it, though 
he was necessarily miserable. If in the situation of the 
wise man there were more circumstances which were the 
natural objects of rejection than of choice, the whole situa- 
tion became the object of rejection, and the rule which the 
gods had given him for the direction of his conduct re- 
quired that he should remove out of it as speedily as parti- 
cular circumstances might render convenient. He 


mm 


SECT. n.J OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY. 413 

however, perfectly happy, even during the time that he 
might think proper to remain in it : he had placed this 
happiness, not in obtaining the objects of his choice or in 
avoiding those of his rejection, but in always choosing and 
rejecting with exact propriety ; not in the success, but in 
the fitness of his endeavours and exertions. If in the situa- 
tion of the weak man, on the contrary, there were more 
circumstances which were the natural objects of choice 
- than of rejection, his whole situation became the proper 
object of choice, and it was his duty to remain in it. He 
was unhappy, however, from not knowing how to use those 
circumstances. Let his cards be ever so good, he did not 
know how to play them, and could enjoy no sort of real 
satisfaction either in the progress or in the event of . the 
game, in whatever manner it might happen.to turn out.* 

The propriety upon some occasions of voluntary death, 
though it was perhaps more insisted upon by the Stoics than 
by any other sect of ancient philosophers, was, however, 
a doctrine common to them all, even to the peaceable and in- 
dolent Epicureans. During the age in which flourished the 
founders of all the principal sects of ancient philosophy, 
during the Peloponnesian war, and for many years after its 
conclusion, all the different republics of Greece were at 
Lome almost always distracted by the most furious fac- 
tions, and abroad involved in the most sanguinary wars, 
in which each sought, not merely superiority or dominion, 
but either completely to extirpate all its enemies, or, what 
vrsLB not less cruel, to reduce them into the vilest of all 
states, that of domestic slavery, and to sell them, man, wo- 
inan, and child, like so many herds of cattle, to the highest 
bidder in the market. The smallness of the greater part 
of those states, too, rendered it to each of them no very 
improbable event that it might itself fall into that very 

* See Cicero de fiiiibus, lib. iii. c. 13. OKvet's edition. 


4M M* nw n uw [pxBar 

calamity wMcli it liad so frequently, either perliapsr aelaallj 
inflicted, or at least attempted to inflict, upon some of its 
aeighboors. In this disorderly state of things the most 
perfect innoeence, joined to both the highest rank and the 
greatest publio serrioes, could give no security to any man 
that, even at home and among his own relations and fel- 
low-citizens, he was not at some time or another, from the 
prevalence of some hostile and furious faction, to be con- 
demned to the most cruel and ignominious punishment 
If he was taken prisoner in war, or if the city of which he 
waa a member was conquered, he was exposed, if possible^ 
to> still greatav ii^uriefr and insults. But every man natih 
sally, or rather necessarily, femiltarizes Ms iraagimtiiNi 
with the distresses to which he foresees that his* sitoatioa 
may frequently, expose hhn* It is impossible that a sailor 
should not frequently think of storms and shipwrecks, and 
foundering at sea,, and of how he himself is likely both to 
feel and to act upon such occasions. It was impossible^ in 
the same manner, that a Grecian; patriot or hero should not 
faaMltarize Ins imagination' with all the different calamities 
to which he was. sensible his situation must freqnendy, or 
rather constantly, expose- him. As an American aavage 
prepares his death-song, and considers how he ^ouid act 
when he ha* £Edlen into the hands of his enemies, and is bf 
them put to death inlhe most lingering tortures, and amidst 
the insults and derision of all the spectators ; so a Grecian 
patriot or hero could not avoid frequently employing his 
thoughts in considering what he ought botii to suffer and to 
do in banishment, in captivity, when reduced to slaveiy, 
when put to the torture, when brought to the scaffold. But 
the philosophers of all the different sects very justly repre- 
sented virtue, that is, wise, just, Arm, and temperate con- 
duct) not only as the most probable, but as the certain and 
infallible road to happiness even in this life. This con- 
duct, however, could not always exempt, and might even 
sometimes expose the person who followed it to all the 


SKSr.' XHJ OF M01i4L FEllLOSOPHY. 41S 

eal&mities: idiich^ were incident to tbat unsettled situation 
of public affairs. They endeavoured, therefore, to sliew 
that happiness was either altogether, or at least in a great 
BMBasorey^ isdepeiident o^ fortune ; the Stoics,, that it was so 
altogel^dr;. the Aeademic aad Peripatetie philosophers, that 
it was so in a. great measu^. Wise, prudent, and good 
conduct was,, in liie first place, the eonduct most Hkelj to 
ensure success in every species of undevtaking ; and, second- 
ly, though it should ftui of success, yet the mind was not 
left without OQSiBolation. The virtoous man might still 
enjoy the eomplete ^probation of his own l»r^Mt, and 
Bught still feel ^i^ how untoward soever tilings might be 
irithout, all- was eaUn and peace and eoncord within*. He 
mi^t generally comfort himself, too, with the assurance 
that he possessed the love and esteem of every intelligent 
and impartisd spectator, who could not fail botili to admire 
hii^ conduct and- to regret his misfortune* 

Those ]^iloiiopheii3 endeavoored at the same time to 
fliiew, liiat the greatest misfortunes, to which human life 
was liable might be supported more easily than was com- 
monly imagined. They endeavoured to point out the com- 
forts which a m«n might still enjoy when reduced to poverty, 
when dHven into banishment, when exposed to the injustice 
of populanr (damour, when labouring under blindness, under 
dealiiesB, in the extremity of old age, upon the approach of 
death : they^pointedont, too, the considerations which might 
contribute to support his constancy under the agonies of 
pain^ and even of tbrtiire, in sickness^ in sorrow^for the 
loss- of children, for tiie death of friends and relations, &c. . 
The few fragments which, have come down to us of what 
liie ancient philosophers had written upon these subjects^ 
form, perhaps*, one of the most instructive as well as one 
of the most interesting remains of antiquity. The spirit 
and manhood of their doctrines make a wonderful contrast 


416 OF SYSTEMS [PABT YU. 

with the desponding, plaintive, and whining tone of some 
modem systems. 

But while those ancient philosophers endeavoured in this 
manner to suggest every consideration which could, as Mil- 
ton says, arm the obdured breast with stubborn patience as 
with triple steel, they at the same time laboured above all 
to convince their followers that there neither was nor could 
be any evil in death ; and that, if their situation became at 
any time too hard for their constancy to support, the remedy 
was at hand, the door was open, and they might without 
fear walk out when they pleased. If there was no world 
beyond the present, death they said could be no evil ; and 
if there was another world, the gods must likewise be in 
that other, and a just man could fear no evil while under 
their protection. Those philosophers, in short, prepared a 
death- song, if I may say so, which the Grecian patriots and 
heroes might make use of upon the proper occasions ; and, 
of all the different sects, the Stoics, I think it must be ac- 
knowledged, had prepared by far the most animated and 
spirited song. 

Suicide, however, never seems to have been very common 
among the Greeks. Excepting Cleomenes, I cannot at pre- 
sent recollect any very illustrious patriot or hero of Greece 
who died by his own hand. The death of Aristomenes 
is as much beyond the period of true history as that of 
Ajax. The common story of the death of Themistocles, 
though within that period, bears upon its face all the marks 
of a most romantic fable. Of all the Greek heroes whose 
lives have been written by Plutarch, Cleomenes appears to 
have been the only one who perished in this manner. The- 
ramines, Socrates, and Phocian, who certainly did not want 
courage, suffered themselves to be sent to prison, and sub- 
mitted patiently to that death to which the injustice of 


SECT, n.] OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY. 417 

their fellow-citizens had condemned them. The brave 
Eumenes allowed himself to be delivered up by his own 
mutinous soldiers to his enemy Antigonus, and was starv- 
ed to death without attemping any violence. The gallant 
Philopoemen suffered himself to be taken prisoner by the 
Messenians, was thrown into a dungeon, and was supposed 
to have been privately poisoned. Several of the philoso- 
phers, indeed, are said to have died in this manner ; but 
their lives have been so very foolishly written, that very 
little credit is due to the greater part of the tales which are 
told of them. Three different accounts have been given of 
the death of Zeno the Stoic. One is, that after enjoying for 
ninety-eight years the most peiiect state of health, he hap- 
pened, in going out of his school, to fall ; and though he 
suffered no other damage than that of breaking or dislocat- 
ing one of his fingers, he struck the ground with his hand, 
and, in the words of the Niobe of Euripides, said, " / come, 
why dost thou call me f" and immediately went home and 
hanged himself. At that great age one should think he 
might have had a little more patience. Another account 
is, that at the same age, and in consequence of a like acci- 
dent, he starved himself to death. The third account is, 
that at seventy-two years of age he died in the natural 
way — by far the most probable account of the three, and 
supported, too, by the authority of a contemporary who 
must have had every opportunity of being well informed ; 
of Persaeus, originally the slave, and afterwards the friend 
and disciple of Zeno. The first account is given by Apol- 
lonius of Tyre, who flourished about the time of Augustus 
Csesar, between two and three hundred years after the 
death of Zeno. I know not who is the author of. the se- 
cond account. Apollonius, who was himself a Stoic, had 
probably thought it would do honour to the founder of a 
sect which talked so much about voluntary death, to die 
in this manner by his own hand. Men of letters, though 

after their death they are frequently more talked of than 

2 E 


418 OP SYSTIBMS [part VH. 

the greatest princes or statesmen of their times, are gene- 
rally during their life so obscure and insignificant that their 
adventures are seldom recorded by contemporary historians. 
Those of after ages, in order to satisfy the public curiosily, 
and having no authentic documents either to support or to 
contradict their narratives, seem frequentlyto have fashioned 
them according to their own fancy, and almost always with 
a great mixture of the marvellous. In this particular case 
the marvellous, though supported by no authority, seems to 
have prevailed over the probable, though supported bj the 
best. Diogenes Laertius plainly gives the preference to the 
story of ApoUonius. Lucian and Lactantius appear both 
to have given credit to that of the great age and of the 
violent death. 

This fashion of voluntary death appears to have beea 
much more prevalent among the proud Romans than it ever 
wa« among the lively, ingenious, and accommodating Greeks. 
Even among the Romans, the fashion seems not to have 
been established in the early and what are called the vir- 
tuous ages of the republic. The common story of the death 
of Regulus, though probably a fable, could never have been 
invented had it been supposed that any dishonour could £&!! 
upon that hero from patiently submitting to the tortures 
which the Carthaginians are said to have inflicted upon him- 
In the later ages of the republic, some dishonour, I appre- 
hend, would have attended this submission. In the diffe- 
rent civil wars which preceded the fall of the commonwealtb, 
many of the eminent men of all the contending parties chose 
rather to perish by their own hands than to fall into those 
of their enemies. The death of Cato, celebrated by Cicero 
and censured by Csssar, and become the subject of a veij 
serious controversy between, perhaps, the two most illustri- 
ous advocates that the world had ever beheld, stamped a cha- 
racter of splendour upon this method of dying, which it seemi 
to have retuned for several ages after. The eloquence of 


SECT. n.J OF MOIIAL PHILOSOPHY. 419 

Cicero was superior to that of Cassar. The admiring prevail- 
ed greatly over the censuring party, and the lovers of li- 
berty for many ages afterwards looked up to Cato as to 
the most venerable martyr of the republican party. *< The 
head of aparty/' the Cardinal de Retz observes, '^ may do what 
he pleases ; as long as he retains the confidence of his own 
Mends he can never do wrong ;" a maxim of whch his 
eminence had himself upon several occasions an opportunity 
of experiencing the truth. Cato, it seems, joined to his 
other virtues that of an excellent bottle companion. His 
enemies accused him of drunkenness ; '^ but,'' says Seneca, 
*' whoever objected thia vice to Cato, will find it much easier 
to prove that drunkenness is a virtue than that Cato could 
be addicted to any vice.'' 

Under the emperors this method of dying seems to have 

been for a long time perfectly fashionable. In the epistles 

of Fliny, we find an account of several persons who chose 

to die in this manner rather from vanity and ostentation, 

it would seem, than from what would appear, even to a 

sober and judicious Stoic, any proper or necessary reason. 

Even the ladies, who are seldom behind in following the 

fashion, seem frequently to have chosen most unnecessarily 

to die in« this manner ; and, like the ladies in Bengal, to 

accompany upon some occasions their husbands to the 

tomb. The prevalence of this fashion certainly occasioned 

many deaths which would not otherwise have happened. 

All the havoc, however, which this, perhaps the highest 

exertion of human vanity and impertinence, could occasion, 

would probably at no time be very great. ' 

The principle of suicide,' the principle which would teach 
UB upon some occasions to consider that violent action as 
an object of applause and approbation, seems to be alto- 
^ther a refinement of philosophy. Nature in her sound 
and healthful state seems never to prompt us to smcide. 


420 OF SYSTEMS [PABT VH. 

There is, indeed, a species of melancholy (a disease to 
which human nature, among its other calamities, is un- 
happily subject) which seems to be accompanied with what 
one may call an irresistible appetite for self-destruction. 
In circumstances often of the highest external prosperity, 
and sometimes, too, in spite even of the most serious and 
deeply impressed sentiments of religion, this disease has 
frequently been known to drive its wretched victims to this 
fatal extremity. The unfortunate persons who perish in 
this miserable manner are the proper objects not of cen- 
sure but of commiseration. To attempt to punish them 
when they are beyond the reach of all human punishment, 
is not more absurd than it is unjust. That punishment can 
fall only on their surviving friends and relations, who are 
always perfectly innocent, and to whom the loss of their 
friend in this disgraceful manner must always be alone a 
very heavy calamity. Nature, in her sound and healthful 
state, prompts us to avoid distress upon all occasions; upon 
many occasions to defend ourselves against it, though at 
the hazard, or even with the certainty, of perishing in that 
defence. But when we have neither been able to defend 

9 

ourselves from it, nor have perished in that defence, no 
natural principle, no regard to the approbation of the sup- 
posed impartial spectator, to the judgment of the man ¥rith- 
in the breast, seems to call upon us to escape from it by 
destroying ourselves. It is only th« consciousness of our 
own weakness, of our own incapacity to support the calamity 
with proper manhood and firmness, which can drive us to 
this resolution. I do not remember to have either read or 
heard of any American savage who, upon being taken 
prisoner by some hostile tribe, put himself to death in 
order to avoid being afterwards put to death in torture, 
and amidst the insults and mockery of his enemies. He 
places his glory in supporting those torments with man- 
hood, and in retorting ^hose insults with tenfold contempt 
and derision. 


•i 
'v 




BSl 


SECT. n.J OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY. 421 

This contempt of life and death, however, and, at the 
same time, the most entire submission to the^rder of Provi- 
dence — the most complete contentment with every event 
which the current of human affairs could possibly cast up, 
may be coilsidered as the two fundamental doctrines upon 
which rested the whole fabric of Stoical morality. The 
independent and spirited, but often harsh Epictetus, may 
be considered as the great apostle of the first of those doc- 
trines — the mild, the humane, the benevolent Antoninus, 
of the second. 

The emancipated slave of Epaphriditus, who in his 
youth had been subjected to the insolence of a brutal 
master, who in his riper years was, by the jealousy and 
caprice of Domitian, banished from Rome and Athens, and 
obliged to dwell at Nicopolis ; and who, by the same t3rrant« 
might expect every moment to be sent to Gyar», or per- 
haps to be put to death, could preserve his tranquillity 
only by fostering in his mind the most sovereign contempt 
of human life. He never exults so much, accordingly his 
eloquence is never so animated, as when he represents the 
futility and nothingness of all its pleasures and all its pains. 

The good-natured emperor, the absolute sovereign of the 
whole civilized part of the world, who certainly had no 
peculiar reason to complain of his own allotment, delights 
in expressing his contentment with the ordinary course of 
things, and in pointing out beauties even in those parts of 
it where vulgar observers are not apt to see any. " There 
is a propriety and even an engaging grace," he observes, "in 
old age as well as in youth ; and the weakness and decrepi- 
tude of the one state are as suitable to nature as the bloom 
and vigour of the other. Death, too, is just as proper a 
termination of old age as youth is of childhood, or man- 
hood of youth." " As we frequently say," he remarks upon 
another occasion, " that the physician has ordered to such a 


432 OF SYSTEMS [PABTTn. 

man to ride on horseback, or to use the cold bath, or to 
walk barefooted; so ought we to say that nature, the 
great conductor and physician of the universe, has ordered 
to such a man a disease, or the amputation of a limb, or 
the loss of a child. By the prescriptions of ordinary phy- 
sicians, the patient swallows many a bitter potion — ^under- 
goes many a painful operation. From the very uncertain 
hope, however, that health may be the consequence, he 
gladly submits to all. The harshest prescriptions of the 
great Physician of nature, the patient may, in the same 
manner, hope will contribute to his own health, to his own 
final prosperity and happiness ; and he may be perfectly 
assured that they not only contribute, but are indispensably 
necessary to the health, to the prosperity and happiness of 
the universe, to the furtherance and advancement of the 
great plan of Jupiter. Had they not been so, the universe 
would never have produced them ; its all- wise Architect 
and Conductor would never have suffered them to happen. 
As all, even the smallest of the co-existent parts of the 
universe, are exactly fitted to one another, and all contri- 
bute to compose one immense and connected system ; so 
all, even apparently the most insignificant of the successive 
events which follow one another, make parts, and necessary 
parts, of that great chain of causes and effects which had 
no beginning, and which will have no end ; and which, as 
they all necessarily result from the original arrangement 
and contrivance of the whole, so they are all essentially 
necessary, not only to its prosperity, but to its continuance 
and preservation. Whoever does not cordially embrace 
whatever befalls him, whoever is sorry that it has befallen 
him, whoever wishes that it had not befallen him, wi^es, 
so far as in him lies, to stop the motion of the universe, to 
break that great chain of succession, by the progress of 
which that system can alone be continued and preserved, 
and, for some littie conveniency of his own, to disorder and 
discompose the whole machine of the world." — " world," 


8ECT. II. J OF MOBAL PHILOSOPHY. 423 

says he, in another place, '^ all things are suitahle to me 
which are suitable to thee. Nothing is too early or too late 
to me which is seasonable for thee. All is fruit to me which 
thy seasons bring forth. From thee are all things ; in thee 
are all things ; for thee are all things. One man says, be- 
loved city of Cecrops. Wilt not thou say, beloved city 
of God?" 

From these very sublime doctrines the Stoics, or at least 
some of the^ Stoics, attempted to deduce all their paradoxes. 

The Stoical wise man endeavoured to enter into the views 
of the great Superintendent of the universe, and to see things 
in the same light in which that divine Being beheld them. 
But to the great Superintendent of the universe, all the dif- 
ferent events which the course of his providence may bring 
forth, what to us appear the smallest and the greatest, the 
bursting of a bubble, as Mr Pope says, and that of a world, 
for example, were perfectly equal, were equally parts of that 
great chain which he had predestined from all eternity, were 
equally the efiects of the same unerring wisdom, of the same 
universal and boundless benevolence. To the Stoical wise 
man, in the same manner, all those different events were 
perfectly equal. In the course of those events, indeed, a 
little department, in which he had himself some little ma- 
nagement and direction, had been assigned to him. In this 
department he endeavoured to act as properly as he could, 
and to conduct himself according to those orders which he 
understood had been prescribed to him. But he took no 
anxious or passionate concern either in the success or in the 
disappointment of his own most faithful endeavours. The 
highest prosperity aiid the total destruction of that little de- 
partment, of that little system which had been in some mea- 
sure committed to his charge, were perfectly indifferent to 
him. If those events had depended upon him, he would 
have chosen the one, and he would have rejected the other; 


424 OF STBTEHS [PART TH. 

but as thej did not depend upon him, he trusted to a su- 
perior wisdom, and was perfectly satisfied that the event 
which happened, whatever it might be, was the very event 
which he himself, had he known all the connections and de- 
pendencies of things, would most earnestly and devoutly 
have wished for. Whatever he did under the influence and 
direction of those principles was equally perfect; and wheo 
he stretched out hid finger to give the example which they 
commonly made use of, he performed an action in eveiy 
respect as meritorious, as worthy of praise and admiratioB, 
as when he laid down his life for the service of his country. 
As to the great Superintendent of the universe, the great- 
est and the smallest exertions of his power, the formati(» 
and dissolution of a world, the formation and dissolution of 
a bubble, were equally easy, were equally admirable, and 
equally the effects of the same divine wisdom and benevo- 
lence ; so, to the Stoical wise man, what we would call the 
great action, required no more exertion than the little one, 
was equally easy, proceeded from exactly the same princi- 
ples, was in no respect more meritorious, nor worthy of any 
' higher degree of praise and admiration. 

As all those who had arrived at this state of perfection 
were equally happy, so all those who fell in the smallest 
degree short of it, how nearly soever they might approach 
to it, were equally miserable. As the man, they said, who 
was but an inch below the surface of the water, could no 
more breathe than he who was an hundred yards below it; so 
the man who had not completely subdued all .his private, 
partial, and selfish passions ; who had any other earnest de- 
sire but that for the universal happiness ; who had not com- 
pletely emerged from that abyss of misery and disorder in- 
to which his anxiety for the gratification of those private, 
partial, and selfish passions had involved him, could no more 
breathe the free air of liberty and independency, could no 
more enjoy the security and happiness of the wise man, than 


■■ 


SECT, n.] OF MORAL PHILOSOPHT. 425 

he who was most remote from that situation. As all the ac- 
tions of the wise man were perfect, and equally perfect; so all 
those of the man who had not arrived at this supreme wisdom 
were faulty, and, as some Stoics pretended, equally faulty. 
As one truth, they said, could not be more true, nor one 
falsehood more false than another, so an honourable action 
could not be more honourable, nor a shameful one more 
shameful, than another. As in shooting at a mark, the man 
who missed it by an inch had equally missed it with him 
who had done so by a hundred yards ; so the man who, in 
what to us appears the most insignificant action, had acted 
improperly and without a sufficient reason, was equally 
faulty with him who had done so in what to us appears the 
most important ; the man who has killed a cock, for exam- 
ple, improperly and without a sufficient reason, with him 
who had murdered his father. 

If the first of those two paradoxes should appear suffi- 
ciently violent, the second is evidently too absurd to deserve 
any serious consideration. It is, indeed, so very absurd, that 
one can scarce help suspecting that it must have been in 
some measure misunderstood or misrepresented. At any 
rate, I cannot allow myself to believe that such men as Zeno 
or Cleanthes, men, it is said, of the most simple as well as 
of the most sublime eloquence, could be the authors either 
of these or of the greater part of the other Stoical paradoxes, 
which are in general* mere impertinent quibbles, and do 
so little honour to their system, that I shall give no further 
account of them. I am disposed to impute them rather to 
Chrysippus, the disciple and follower indeed of Zeno and 
Cleanthes, but ^o, from all that has been delivered down 
to us concerning him, seems to have been a mere dialectical 
pedant, without taste or elegance of any kind. He may have 
been the fiwt who reduced their doctrines into a scholastic 
or technical system of artificial definitions, divisions, and 
sub -divisions; one of the most eifectual expedients, perhaps, 


426 OV SYSTEMS [PABT YIX. 

for eztingaishing whatever degree of good sense there may 
be in any moral or metaphyubal doctrine. Such a man may 
very easily be supposed to have understood too literally 
some animated expressions of his masters in describing the 
hi^piness of the man of perfect virtue, and the unhappiness 
ef whoever fell short of that character. 

The Stoics in general seem to have admitted that there 
might be a degree of proficiency in those who bad not ad- 
vanced to perfect virtue and happiness. They distributed 
those proficients into di£ferent classes, according to the de- 
gree of their advancement ; and they called the imperfect 
virtues which they supposed them capable of exercising, 
not rectitudes but proprieties, fitnesses, decent and becom- 
ing actions, for which a plausible or probable reason conld 
be assigned, what Cicero expresses by the Latin word offida^ 
and Seneca, I think more exactly, by that of convenientia. 
The doctrine of those imperfect but attainable virtues, seems 
to have constituted what we may caU the practical morality 
of the Stoics. It is the subject of Cicero's Offices ; and is 
said to have been that of another book written hj Marcus 
Brutus, but which is now lost. 

The plan and system which nature has sketched out for 
our conduct seems to be altogether different from that of the 
Stoical philosophy. 

• 

By nature, the events which immediately affect that litde 
department in which we ourselves have some little manage- 
ment and direction, which immediately affect ourselves, our 
friends, our country, are the events which interest us the 
most, and which chiefly excite our desires and aversions, 
our hopes and fears, our joys and sorrows. Should those 
passions be, what they are very apt to be, too vehement, 
nature has provided a proper remedy and correcti<Hi. The 
real or even the imaginary presence of the impartial specta- 


8BCT. n.] OF MORAL PBILOBOPHY. 437 

tor, the authority of th^ man within the breast, is always at 
hand to overawe them into the proper tone and temper of 
moderation. 

I^ notwithstanding our most faithful exertions, all the 
events which can affect this little, department should turn 
out the most unfortunate and disastrotis, nature has by no 
means left us without consolation. That consolation may 
be drawn, not only from the complete approbation of the 
man within the breast, but, if possible, from a still nobler 
and more generous principle — from a firm reliance upon, 
and a reverential submission to, that benevolent wisdom 
which directs all the events of himian life, and which, we 
may be assured, would never have suffered those misfortunes 
to happen had they not been indispensably necessary for the 
good of the whole. 

Nature has not prescribed to us this sublime contempla- 
tion as the great business and occupation of our lives. She 
only points it out to us as the consolation of our misfortunes. 
The Stoical philosophy prescribes it as the great business 
and occupation of our lives. That philosophy teaches us to 
interest ourselves earnestly and anxiously in no events, ex- 
ternal to the good order of our own minds, to the propriety 
of our own choosing and rejecting, except in those which 
concern a department where we neither have nor ought to 
have any sort of management or direction — ^the department 
of the great Superintendent of the universe. By the perfect 
apathy which it prescribes to us, by endeavouring not mere- 
ly to moderate but to eradicate all our private, partial, and 
selfish affections, by suffering us to feel for whatever can 
befall ourselves, our friends, our country, not even the sym- 
pathetic and reduced passions of the impartial spectator, it 
endeavours to render us altogether indifferent and uncon- 
cerned in the success or miscarriage of every thing which 


428 OF SYSTEMS [PART YIL 

nature has prescribed to us as the proper business and occu- 
pation of our lives. 

The reasonings of philosophy, it maybe said, though they 
may confound and perplex the understanding, can never 
break down the necessary connection which nature has esta- 
blished between causes and their effects. The causes whieli 
naturally excite our desires and aversions, our hopes and 
fears, our joys and sorrows, would no doubt, notwithstand- 
ing all the reasonings of Stoicism, produce upon each indi- 
vidual, according to the degree of his actual sensibility, 
their proper and necessary effects. The judgments of the 
man within the breast, however, might be a good deal affect- 
ed by those reasonings, and that great inmate might be 
taught by them to attempt to overawe all our private, par- 
tial, and selfish affections, into a more or less perfect tran- 
quillity. To direct the judgments of this inmate is the great 
purpose of all systems of morality. That the Stoical phi- 
losophy had very great influence upon the character and 
conduct of its followers, cannot be doubted; and that, 
though it might sometimes incite them to unnecessary vio- 
lence, its general tendency was to animate them to actions 
of the most heroic magnanimity and most extensive bene- 
volence. 

IV. Besides these ancient, there are some modem sys- 
tems, according to which virtue consists in propriety, or in 
the suitableness of the affection from which we act to the 
cause or object which excites it. The system of Dr Clark, 
which places virtue in acting according to the relations of 
things, in regulating our conduct according to the fitness or 
incongruity which there may be in the application of certain 
actions to certain things, or to certain relations : that of Mr 
Woollaston, which places it in acting according to the tmth 
of things, according to their proper nature and essence, or 


SECT, n.] OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY. 429 

in treating them as what they really are, and not as what 
they are not : that of my Lord Shaftesbury, which places it 
in maintaining a proper balance of the affections, and in 
allowing no passion to go beyond its proper sphere, are all 
of them more or less inaccurate descriptions of the same 
fundamental idea. 

None of those systems either give, or even pretend to 
give, any precise or distinct measure by which this fitness 
or propriety of affection can be ascertained or judged of. 
That precise and distinct measure can be found nowhere 
but in the sympathetic feelings of the impartial and well- 
informed spectator. 

The description of virtue, besides, which is either given, 
or at least meant and intended to be given, in each of those 
systems — for some of the modern authors are not very for- 
tunate in their manner of expressing themselves — is no doubt 
quite just, so far as it goes. There is no virtue without 
propriety, and wherever there is propriety, some degree of 
approbation is due. But still this description is imperfect. 
For though propriety is an essential ingredient in every vir- 
tuous action, it is not always the sole ingredient. Benefi- 
cent actions have in them another quality by which they 
appear not only to deserve approbation but recompence. 
None of those systems account either easily or sufficiently 
for that superior degree of esteem which seems due to such 
actions, or for that diversity of sentiment which they natu- 
rally excite. Neither is the description of vice more com- 
plete. For in the same manner, though impropriety is a 
necessary ingredient in every vicious action, it is not always . 
the sole ingredient ; and there is often the highest degree of 
absurdity and impropriety in very harmless and insignificant 
actions. Deliberate actions, of a pernicious tendency to 
those we live with, have, besides their impropriety, a pecu- 
liar quality of their own, by which they appear to deserve 


430 OF SYSTEMS [PAJtT TIL 

not only disapprobation but punishment, and to be the ob- 
jects not of dislike merely, but of resentment and revenge ; 
and none of those systems easily and sufficiently account 
for that superior degree of detestation which we feel iox 
such actions. 


mfmmmmmmmmmm^f^m^^ 


8BCT. n.] OF MOOAL PHILOSOPHY. 431 


CHAPTER IL 

Of those Systems which make Virtue consist in Prudence, 

The most ancient of tliose systems which make virtue 
consist in prudence, and of which any considerable remains 
have come down to us, is that of Epicurus, who is said, 
however, to have borrowed all the leading principles of his 
philosophy from some of those who had gone before him, 
particularly from Aristippus ; though it is very probable, 
notwithstanding this allegation of his enemies, that at least 
his manner of applying those principles was altogether his 
own. 

According to Epicurus,* bodily pleasure and pain were 
the sole ultimate objects of natural desire and aversion. 
That they were always the natural objects of those passions, 
he thought required no proof. Pleasure might, indeed, ap- 
pear sometimes to be avoided ; not, however, because it was 
pleasure, but because, by the enjoyment of it, we should 
either forfeit some greater pleasure, or expose ourselves to 
some pain that was' more to be avoided than this pleasure 
was to be desired. Pain, in the same manner, might appear 
sometimes to be eligible ; not, however, because it was pain, 
but because by enduring it we might either avoid a still 
greater pain, or acquire some pleasure of much more im- 
portance. That bodily pain and pleasure, therefore, were 
always the natural objects of desire and aversion, was, he 
thought, abundantly evident. Nor was it less so, he ima- 
gined, that they were the sole ultimate objects of those pas- 
sions Whatever else was either desired or avoided was 

* See Cicero de finibiu, lib. L Diogenes Laert 1. x. 


432 oP SYSTEMS [part yii. 

80, according to him, upon account of its tendency to pro- 
duce one or other of those sensations. The tendency to 
procure pleasure rendered power and riches desirable, as the 
contrary tendency to produce pain made poverty and insig- 
nificancy the objects of aversion. Honour and reputation 
were valued, because the esteem and love of those we live 
with were of the greatest consequence both to procure plea- 
sure and to defend us from pain. Ignominy and bad fame, 
on the contrary, were to be avoided, because the hatred, 
contempt, and resentment of those we lived with destroyed 
all security, and necessarily exposed us to the greatest 
bodily evils. 

All the pleasures and pains of the mind were, according 
to Epicurus, ultimately derived from those of the body. 
The mind was happy when it thought of the past pleasures 
of the body, and hoped for others to come; and it was mi- 
serable when it thought of the pains which the body had for- 
merly endured, and dreaded the same or greater thereafter. 

But the pleasures and pains of the mind, though ultimately 
derived from those of the body, were vastly greater than 
their originals. The body felt only the sensation of the pre- 
sent instant, whereas the mind felt also the past and the 
future, the one by remembrance, the other by anticipation, 
and consequently both suffered and enjoyed much more. 
When we are under the greatest bodily pain, he observed, 
we shall always find, if we attend to it, that it is not the 
suffering of the present instant which chiefly torments us, 
but either the agonizing remembrance of the past, or the 
yet more horrible dread of the future. The pain of each 
instant, considered by itself, and cut off from all that goes 
before and all that comes after it, is a trifle not worth the re- 
garding. Yet this is all which the body can ever be said to 
suffer. In the same manner, when we enjoy the greatest 
pleasure, we shall always find that the bodily sensation, the 


SECT, n.] OP MORAL PHILOSOPHY. 433 

sensation of the present instant, makes but a small part of 
our happiness, that our enjoyment chiefly arises either from 
the cheerful recollection of the past, or the still more joyous 
anticipation of the future, and that the mind always contri- 
butes by much the largest share of the entertainment. 

Since our happiness and misery, therefore, depended chiefly 
on the mind, if this part of our nature was well disposed, if 
our thoughts and opinions were as they shoidd be, it was 
of little importance in what manner our body was affected. 
Though under great bodily pain, we might still enjoy a 
considerable share of happiness if our reason and judgment 
maintained their superiority. We might entertain ourselves 
with the remembrance of past, and with the hopes of future 
pleasure ; we might soften the rigour of our pains by recol- 
lecting what it was which, even in this situation, we were 
vnder any necessity of suffering. That this was merely the 
bodily sensation, the pain of the present instant, which by 
itself could never be very great. That whatever agony we 
suffered from the dread of its continuance, was the effect of 
an opinion of the mind, which might be corrected by juster 
sentiments ; by considering that, if our pains were violent, 
they would probably be of short duration ; and that if they 
were of long continuance, they would probably be moderate, 
and admit of many intervals of ease ; and that, at any rate, 
death was always at hand and within call to deliver us, 
which as, according to him, it put an end to all sensation, 
either of pain or pleasure, could not be regarded as an evil. 
When we are, said he, death is not ; and when death is, we 
are not ; death, therefore, can be nothing to us. 

If the actual sensation of positive pain was in itself so 
little to be feared, that of pleasure was still less to be desired. 
Naturally the sensation of pleasure was much less pungent 
than that of pain. If, therefore, this last could take so very 
little from the happiness of a well-disposed mind, the other 

2 F 


434 OF SYSTEMS [PABT TIL 

could add scarce any thing to it. When the body was free 
from pain, and the mind from fear and anxiety, the super- 
added sensation of bodily pleasure could be of very little 
importance ; and though it might diversify, could not pro- 
perly be said to increase the happiness of this situation. 

In ease of body, therefore, and in security or tranquillity 
of mind, consisted, according to Epicurus, the most perfect 
state of human nature, the most complete happiness which 
man was capable of enjoying. To obtain this great end of 
natural desire was the sole object of all the virtues, which, ac- 
cording to him, were not desirable upon their own account, but 
upon account of their tendency to bring about this situation. 

Prudence, for example, though, according to this philo- 
sophy, the source and principle of aU the virtues, was not 
desirable upon its own account. That careful and laborious 
and circumspect state of mind, ever watchful and ever at- 
tentive to the most distant consequences of every action, 
could not be a thing pleasant or agreeable for its own sake, 
but upon account of its tendency to procure the greatest 
good and to keep off the greatest evil. 

To abstain from pleasure too, to curb and restrain our 
natural passions for enjoyment, which was the office of tem- 
perance, could never be desirable for its own sake. The 
whole value of this virtue arose from its utility, from its 
enabling us to postpone the present enjoyment for the sake 
of a greater to come, or to avoid a greater pain that might 
ensue from it. Temperance, in short, was nothing but pru- 
dence with regard to pleasure. 

To support labour, to endure pain, to be exposed to dan- 
ger or to death, the situations which fortitude would ofto 
lead us into, were surely still less the objects of natural de- 
sire. They were chosen only to avoid greater evils. We 


SECT, n.] OP MOEAL PHILOSOPHY. 435 

submitted to labour in order to avoid the greater shame 
and pain of poverty, and we exposed ourselves to danger 
and to death in defence of our liberty and property, the 
means and instruments of pleasure and happiness ; or in de- 
fence of our country, in the safety of which our own was 
necessarily comprehended. Fortitude enabled us to do all 
this cheerfully, as the best which, in our present situation, 
could possibly be done, and was in reality no more than 
prudence, good judgment, and presence of mind in proper- 
ly appreciating pain, labour, and danger, always choosing 
the less in order to avoid the greater. 

It is the same case with justice. To abstain from what 
is another's was not desirable on its own account, and it 
could not surely be better for you that I should possess 
what is my own than that you should possess it. You 
ought, however, to abstain from whatever belongs to me, 
because by doing otherwise you will provoke the resentment 
and indignation of mankind. The security and tranquillity 
of your mind will be entirely destroyed. You will be filled 
with £ear and consternation at the thought of that punish- 
ment which you will imagine that men are at all times ready 
to inflict upon you, and from which no power, no art, no 
concealment, will ever, in your own fancy, be sufficient to 
protect you. That other species of justice which consists 
in doing proper good offices to different persons, according 
to the various relations of neighbours, kinsmen, friends, 
benefactors, superiors, or equals, which they may stand in 
to us, is recommended by the same reasons. To act pro- 
perly in all these different relations, procures us the esteem 
and love of those we live with ; as to do otherwise excites 
their contempt and hatred. By the one we naturally secure, 
hj the other we necessarily endanger, our own ease and 
tranquillity, the great and ultimate objects of all our difeires. 
The whole virtue of justice, therefore, the most important 


436 OF SYSTEMS [PABT YII. 

of all the virtues, is no more tban discreet and prudent con- 
duct with regard to our neighbours. 

Such is the doctrine of Epicurus concerning the nature of 
virtue. It may seem extraordinaiy that this philosopher, 
who is described as a person of the most amiable manners, 
should never have observed that, whatever may be the ten- 
dency of those virtues, or of the contrary vices, with regard 
to our bodily ease and security, the sentiments which they 
naturally excite in others are the objects of a much more 
passionate desire or aversion than all their other conse- 
quences ; that to be amiable, to be respectable, to be the pro- 
per object of esteem, is by every well-disposed mind more 
valued than all the ease and security which love, respect, 
and esteem can procure us ; that, on the contrary, to be odious, 
to be contemptible, to be the proper object of indignation, 
is more dreadful than all that we can suffer in our body from 
hatred, contempt, or indignation ; and that consequently onr 
desire of the one character, and our aversion to the other, 
cannot arise from any regard to the effects which either of 
them is likely to produce upon the body. 

This system is, no doubt, altogether inconsistent with that 
which I have been endeavouring to establish. It is not 
difficult, however, to discover from what phasis, if I may 
say so, from what particular view or aspect of nature, this 
account of things derives its probability. By the wise con- 
trivance of the Author of nature, virtue is upon all ordinaiy 
occasions, even with regard to this life, real wisdom, and the 
surest and readiest means of obtaining both safety and ad- 
vantage. Our success or disappointment in our undertak- 
ings must very much depend upon the good or bad opinion 
which is commonly entertained of us, and upon the general 
disposition of those we live with, either to assist or to op- 
pose us. But the best, the surest, the easiest, and the rea- 
diest way of obtaining the advantageous and' of avoiding the 


****^"v"i9i^*>B*aaBav^Hnga 


SECT, n.] OP MORAL PUILOSOPHY. 487 

unfavourable judgments of others, is, undoubtedly, to ren- 
der ourselves tbe proper objects of the former and not of 
the latter. " Do you desire," said Socrates, " the reputation 
of a good musician ? — The only sure way of obtaining it 
is to become a good musician. Would you desire, in the 
same manner, to be thought capable of sefving your country 
either as a general or as a statesman ? — The best way in this 
case too is really to acquire the art and experience of war 
and government, and to become really fit to be a general or 
a statesman. And, in the same manner, if you would be 
reckoned sober, temperate, just, and equitable, the best 
way of acquiring this reputation is to become sober, tem- 
perate, just, and equitable. If you can really render your- 
self amiable, respectable, and the proper object of esteem, 
there is no fear of your not soon acquiring the love, the 
respect, and esteem of those you live with." Since 
the practice of virtue, therefore, is in general so advan- 
tageous, and that of vice so contrary to our interest, the 
consideration of those opposite tendencies undoubtedly 
stamps an additional beauty and propriety upon the one, 
and a new deformity and impropriety upon the other. Tem- 
perance, magnanimity, justice, and beneficence, come thus 
to be approved of, not only under their proper characters, 
but under the additional character of the highest wisdom 
and most real prudence. And in the same manner, the 
contrary vices of intemperance, pusillanimity, injustice, and 
either malevolence or sordid selfishness, come to be disap- 
proved of, not only under their proper characters, but un- 
der the additional character of the most short-sighted folly 
and weakness. Epicurus appears in every virtue to have 
attended to this species of propriety only. It is that which 
is most apt to occur to those who are endeavouring to per- 
suade others to regularity of conduct. When men by their 
practice, and perhaps too by their maxims, manifestly shew 
that the natural beauty of virtue is not like to have much 
effect upon them, how is it possible to move them but by 


438 OF SYSTEMS [PART VH. 

representing the folly of their conduct, and how much they 
themselves are in the end likely to suffer by it ? 

By running up all the different virtues, too, to this one 
species of propriety, Epicurus indulged a propensity, which 
is natural to all men, but which philosophers in particular 
are apt to cultivate with a peculiar fondness, as the great 
means of displaying their ingenuity, — ^Uie propensity to ac- 
count for all appearances from as few principles as pos- 
sible. And he, no doubt, indulged this propen^ty still 
further, when he referred all the primary objects of natu- 
ral desire and aversion to the pleasures and pains of the 
body. The great patron of the atomical philosophy, who 
took so much pleasure in deducing all the powers and qua- 
lities of bodies from the most obvious andfamiliar, the figure, 
motion, and arrangement of the small parts of matter, felt, 
no doubt, a similar satisfaction, when he accounted in the 
same manner for all the sentiments and passions of the 
mind from those which ate most obvious and familiar. 

The system of Epicurus agreed with those of Plato, 
Aristotle, and Zeno, in making virtue consist in acting in 
the most suitable manner to obtain* primary objects of na- 
tural desire. It differed from all of * them in two other re- 
spects ; first, in the account which it gave of those primary 
objects of natural desire; and, secondly, i]> the account which 
it gave of the excellence of virtue, or of the reason why 
that quality ought to be esteemed. 

The primary objects of natural desire consisted, accord- 
ing to Epicunis, in bodily pleasure and pain, and in nothing 
else ; whereas, according to^the other three philosophers* 
there were many other objects, such* as knowledge, such as 


* Prima naturae. 


SECT. n.'J OP MORAL PHILOSOPHY. 439 

the happiness of our relations, of our friends, of our country, 
which were ultimately desirable for their own sakes. 

Virtue, too, according to Epicurus, did not deserve to be 
pursued for its own sake, nor was itself one of the ultimate 
objects of natural appetite, but was eligible only upon ac- 
count of its tendency to prevent pain and to procure ease 
and pleasure. In the opinion of the other three, on the con- 
trary, it was desirable, not merely as the means of procuring 
the other primary obieets of natural desire but as some- 
thing whil was initselfmorevalnablethanthemall. Man, 
they thought, being bom for action, his happiness must 
consist, not merely in the agreeableness of his passive sen- 
sations, but also in the propriety of his active exertions* 


! 


il 


440 OF SYSTEMS f PAST VII. 


CHAPTER III. 

Of those Systems which make Virtue consist in Benevolence. 

The system which makes virtue consist in benevolence, 
though I think not so ancient as all of those which I have 
already given an account of, is, however, of very great an- 
tiquity. It seems to have been the doctrine of the greater 
part of those philosophers who, about and after the age of 
Augustus, called themselves Eclectics, who pretended to 
follow chiefly the opinions of Plato and Pythagoras, and 
who, upon that account, are commonly known by the name 
of the later Platonists. 

In the divine nature, according to these authors, benevo- 
lence or love was the sole principle of action, and directed 
the exertion of all the other attributes. The wisdom of the 
Deity was employed in finding out the means for bringing 
about those ends which his goodness suggested, as his infi- 
nite power was exerted to execute them. Benevolence, 
however, was still the supreme and governing attribute, to 
which the others were subservient, and from which the 
whole excellency, or the whole morality, if I may be allow- 
ed such an expression, of the divine operations was ulti- 
mately derived. The whole perfection and virtue of the 
human mind consisted in some resemblance or participation 
of the divine perfections, and, consequently, in being filled 
with the same principle of benevolence and love which in- 
fluenced all the actions of the Deity. The actions of men 
which flowed from this motive were alone truly praise- 
worthy, or could claim any merit in the sight of the Deity. 
It was by actions of charity and love only that we could 
imitate, as became us, the' conduct of God ; that we could 


SECT, n.] OP MORAL PHILOSOPHY. 441 

express our humble and devout admiration of his infinite per- 
fections ; that by fostering in our oi9^n minds the same divine 
principle, we could bring our own aflfections to a greater 
resemblance with his holy attributes, and thereby become 
more proper objects of his love and esteem ; till at last we 
arrived at that immediate converse and communication with 
the Deity to which it was the great object of this philoso- 
phy to raise us. 

This system, as it was much esteemed by many ancient 
fethers of the Christian church, so, after the Reformation, 
it was adopted by several divines of the most eminent piety 
and learning, and of the most amiable manners ; particularly 
by Dr Ralph Cudworth, by Dr Henry More, and by Mr 
John Smith of Cambridge. But of all the patrons of this 
system, ancient or modem, the late Dr Hutcheson was un- 
doubte^y, beyond all comparison, the most acute, the most 
. distinct, the most philosophical, and, what is of the greatest 
consequence of all, the soberest and most judicious. 

That virtue consists in benevolence is a notion supported 
by many appearances in human nature. It has been ob- 
served already, that proper benevolence is the most graceful 
and agreeable of all the affections ; that it is recommended 
to us by a double sympathy ; that as its tendency is neces- 
sarily beneficent, it is the proper object of gratitude and 
reward ; and that, upon all these accounts, it appears to our 
natural sentiments to possess a merit superior to any other. 
It has been observed, too, that even the weaknesses of be- 
nevolence are not very disagreeable to us, whereas those of 
every other passion are always extremely disgusting. Who 
does not abhor excessive malice, excessive selfishness, or 
excessive resentment ? But the most excessive indulgence, 
even of partial friendship, is not so offensive. It is the be- 
nevolent passions only which can exert themselves without 
any regard or attention to propriety, and yet retain some- 


442 OT SYSTEMS [PABT YTL 

thing about them which is engaging. There is something 
pleasing even in mere instinctive good-will, which goes on 
to do good offices without once reflecting whether, by this 
conduct, it is the proper object either of blame or approba- 
tion. It is not so with the other passions. The moment 
they are deserted, the moment they are unaccompanied by 
the sense of propriety, they cease to be agreeable. 

As benevolence bestows upon those actions which pro- 
ceed from it a beauty superior to all others, so the want of 
it, and much more the contrary inclination, communicates 
a peculiar deformity to whatever evidences such a disposi- 
tion. Pernicious actions are often punii^able for no other 
reason than because they shew a want of sufficient attention 
to the happiness of our neighbour. 

Besides all this, Dr Hutcheson* observed, that whenever 
in any action, supposed to proceed from benevolent affec- 
tions, some other motive had been discovered, our sense of 
the merit of this action was just so far diminished as this 
motive was believed to have influenced it. If an action, 
supposed to proceed from gratitude, should be discovered 
to have arisen from an expectation of some new faTour, or 
if what was apprehended to proceed from public spirit 
should be found out to have taken its mgin from the hope 
of a pecuniary reward, such a discovery would entirely de- 
stroy all notion of merit or praiseworlhiness in either of 
these actions. Since, therefore, the mixture of any sel£sh 
motive, like that of a baser alloy, diminished or took away 
altogether the merit which would otherwise have belonged 
to any action, it was evident, he imagined, that virtue must 
consist in pure and disinterested benevolence alone. 

When those actions, on the contrary, which are commonly 

* See Inqniiy concerzuiig Yirtne, sect i. and iL 


SECT, n.] OP MOBAL PHILOBOPHY. 443 

supposed to proceed from a selfish motive, are discovered 
to have arisen from a benevolent one, it greatly enhances 
our sense of their merit. If we believed of any person that 
he endeavoured to advance his fortune from no other view 
but that of doing friendly offices, and of making proper re- 
turns to his benefactors, we should only love and esteem 
him the more. And this observation seemed still more to 
confirm the conclusion, that it was benevolence only which 
could stamp upon any action the character of virtue. 

Last of all : what, he imagined, was an evident proof of 
the justness of this account of virtue, in all the disputes of 
casuists concerning the rectitude of conduct, the public good, 
he observed, was the standard to which they constantly re- 
ferred ; thereby universally acknowledging that whatever 
tended to promote the happiness of mankind was right, and 
tttudable, and virtuous, and the contrary, wrong, blameable, 
and vicious. In the late debates about passive obedience 
and the right of resistance, the sole point in controversy 
among men of sense was, whether universal submission 
would probably be attended with greater evils than tempo- 
rary insurrections, when privileges were invaded ? Whether 
what, upon the whole, tended most to the happiness of man- 
kind was not also morally good, was never once, he said, 
made a question. 

Since benevolence, therefore, was the only motive which 
could bestow upon any action the character of virtue, the 
greater the benevolence which was evidenced by any action^ 
^e greater the praise which must belong to it. 

Those actions which aimed at the happiness of a great 
community, as they demonstrated a more enlarged benevo- 
lence than those which aimed only at that of a smaller sys- 
tem, so were they likewise proportionally the more virtuous. 
The most virtuous of all affections, therefore, was that which 


444 OF SYSTEMS [PABT Tn. 

embraced as its objects the happiness of all intelligent be- 
ings. The least virtuous, on the contrary, of those to which 
the character of virtue could in any respect belong, was that 
which aimed no further than at the happiness of an indivi- 
dual, such as a son, a brother, a friend. 

In directing all our actions to promote the greatest pos- 
sible good, in submitting all inferior affections to the desire 
of the general happiness of mankind, in regarding one's self