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It was an objection constantly urged by the ancient Epicureans, that man could not be the creature of a benevolent being, as he was formed in a state so helpless and infirm : Montagne took it and urged it also. They never considered or perceived that this very infirmity and helplessness were the cause and cement of society ; that if men had been perfect and self-sufficient, and had stood in ao need of each others affift. ance, there would have been no occasion for the invention of the arts, and no opportunity for the exertion of the affections. The lines therefore in which Lucretius proposes this objection, are as unphilosophical and inconclusive, as they are highly pathetic and poetical.
locus fit præclaris animi virtutibus ubi se exerceant: excludcrentur enim commiseratio, beneficentia, liberalitas, fortitudo, æquanimitas, patientia, lenitas, et officia omnia gratuita et immerita, quorum sensus longe eft omnium laetiflimus, et memoria jacundiffima; fi nulla effet imbecillitas, nulla indigentia, nulla hominum vitia et errores." Hutcheson. Metaphyficæ Synopfis, cap. ii. pag. 81.
. This resembles the doctrine of the old Stoic Chryfippus as he is quoted by Aulus Gellius, lib. vi. cap. 1. “Nallum adeo contrarium fine contrario altero. Quo enim pacto juftitiæ fenfus effe poffet nisi effent injuriæ? Aut quid aliud justitia eft quam injustitiæ privatio ? Quid item fortitudo intelligi posset nifi ex ignaviæ oppofitione ? Quid continentia nifi ex intemperantia ? Quo item modo prudentia esset, nifi foret ex contrario imprudentia?" "To this purpose the elegant lyric poet.
Who founds in discord, beauty's reign,
And bids the universe be bleft." • This is that magic divine, which by an efficacy paft com. prehension, can transform every appearance, the moft. hi. deous, into beauty, and exhibit all things fair and good to thee! Essence Increate! who art of parer eyes than to behold iniquity.” Three Treatises, by J. H. pag. 234.
Tum porrò puer, ut szvis projectus ab undis Navita, nudus humi jacet, infans, indigus omni Vitali auxilio, cum primum in luminis oras Nixibus ex alvo matris natura profudit; Vagituque locum lugubri complet, ut æquum eft, Cui tantum in vitâ reftat tranfire malorum *.
There is a passage in the Moralists which I cannot forbear thinking Pope had in his eye, and which I must not therefore omit, as it serves to illustratc and confirm so many parts of the Essay on Man ; I Thall therefore give it at length without apology,
Lib. v. Ver. 223.
“ The young of most other kinds, are instantly helpful to themselves, sensible, vigorous, know how to lun danger, and seek their good: A human infant is of all the most helpless, weak, infirm. And wherefore should it not have been so ordered ? Where is the loss in such a species ? Or what is man the worse for that defea, amidst such large supplies ? Does not this defect engage him the more strongly to society *, and force him to own that he is purposely, and not by accident, made rational and sociable; and can no otherwise increase or subfift, than in that social intercourse and community which is his natural ftate? Is not both conjugal affection, and Datural affection to parents, duty to magiftrates, love of a common city, community, or country, with the other duties and Social parts of life, deduced from hence,
• A longer care man's helpless kind demands; That longer care contracts more lafting bands.
Ep. iii. V. 131. And again;
And fill new needs, new helps, new habits rise,
and founded in these very wants ? What can be happier than such a deficiency, as it is the occasion of so much good ? . What better than a want so abundantly made up, and answered by so many enjoyments ? Now if there are still to be found among mankind, such as even in the midst of these wants seem not ashamed to affect a right of independency, and deny themselves to be by nature sociable; where would their thame have been, had nature otherwise supplied these wants ? What duty or obligation had been ever thought of? What respect or reverence of parents, magistrates, their country, or their kind ? Would not their full and self-sufficient ftate more strongly have determined them to throw off nature, and deny the ends and author of their creation * ?"
31. And pride bestow'd on all a common friend to
The observation is from La Rochefoucault; Nature, who so wisely has fitted
• The Moralifts, pag. 203,
+ Ver. 272.
the organs of our body to make us happy, seems likewise to have bestowed pride on us, on purpose, as it were, to save us the pain of knowing our imperfections *
Un fot en ecrivant fait tout avec plaisir.
When Boileau read these words to his friend Moliere to whom they are addressed, the latter, squeezing his hand with earnestness, said " This is one of the best truths you have ever uttered. I am not one of those sublime geniuses of whom you speak; but such as I am, I must declare I have never wrote any thing in my life, with which I have been thoroughly fatis
34. See matter next, with various life endu'd,
Press to one centre ftill, the gen'ral good.
• Maxim 36.
of Sat. 2. 85.