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la patrie recueille les heureux fruits. En un mot tout souverain qui voudra consulter la raison apprendra qu'il ne peut avoir de vraie puissance, de titres assurés, de droits incontestables, s'il ne les fonde sur les volontés de ses sujets, réunis pour concourir au bien public avec lui; qu'il ne peut en être sincèrement aimé, s'il ne mérite leur amour; qu'il ne peut obtenir de la gloire, s'il ne fait des choses utiles et grandes; qu'il ne peut échapper à l'ennui qu'en s'occupant de ses devoirs. La vérité lui montrera par des exemples sans nombre que ce despotisme effréné, que cette puissance sans limites, à laquelle tous les princes dèsirent de parvenir, que la flatterie leur adjuge, que la religion sanctifie et décerne au nom des dieux, que l'inertie des peuples leur laisse souvent exercer, est un glaive à deux tranchans, toujours prêt à blesser l'imprudent qui le manie."
"Ne regardons point comme impossible le projet de concilier les intérêts de la vérité avec ceux des souverains et des peuples qu'ils gouvernent. Que l'on ne traite point de chimérique l'espoir de voir des circonstances favorables, dans lesquelles la politique éclairée par la raison sentira l'importance d'anéantir les préjugés, qui par-tout s'opposent à la félicité publique. Quoi! les maîtres de la terre ne verront-ils jamais que leurs intérêts véritables ne peuvent être séparés du ceux de leurs nations sans lesquelles ils ne seroient rien? Ne se convaincrontils point que leur bien-être propre, que leur pouvoir réel, que la solidité de leur trône, dépendent des efforts sincères d'un peuple magnanime, que son propre bonheur intéresse à seconder leurs vues? Préférer ont-ils toujours le foible avantage de commander à des esclaves ignorans et mécontens, au plaisir de commander à des citoyens fidèles, attachés, industrieux, vertueux? Ne se lasseront-ils jamais de voir leurs ètats dévastés par les fureurs religieuses, dévorés par des prêtres inutiles, déchirés par leurs querelles; soulevés par les passions de3 grands ambitieux, pillés par des sangsues publiques, réduits au désespoir pour enrichir des courtisans perfides ou pour charmer l'oisiveté d'une cour?" p. 77.
One of the commonest prejudices is the veneration paid to antiquity. "The opinion which men entertain of antiquity is a very idle thing, and almost incongruous to the word: for the old age and length of days of the world, should in reality be accounted antiquity, and ought to be attributed to our own times, not to the youth of the world, which it enjoyed amongst the ancients; for that age, though with respect to us it be ancient and greater, yet with regard to the world, it was new and less." Bacons Nov. Organ. Shaw's translation.
"Where should we be, if our ancestors had had for theirs, and these for their predecessors, the blind veneration for ancient prejudices which is now required of us? Man would still be a savage - he would Still wander in the woods, eat acorns and undressed food.
"Jt is evident that nature has made man susceptible of experience, and consequently more and more perfectible'; it is absurd then to wish to arrest himjn his course in spite of the eternal law which impels him forward." p. Qf.
Amongst this class of prejudices is that of " birth" or ancestry. When a long line of ancestors is made the source of personal vanity, nothing appears more childish, if their descendant be of a virtuous and honorable carriage, and nothing more ridiculous, if he be of a vicious one. If he pride himself on the virtues of his progenitors, it is an amiable prejudice which we can forgive; if he make it the reason of his pursuing the same course, we may approve the effect, although we may still think that he ought to have had higher and nobler motives. M. Marsais observes,
"Par une suite de ce préjugé ridicule, pour estimer un homme on ne demande jamais ni ce qu'il est, ni les talens qu'il possède, ni les vertus dont il est orné; on se borne à demander le nom de ses ancêtres. En conséquence de cette idée, dont souvent on est la dupe même lorsqu'on en sent le ridicule, le mérite obscur est oublié; les talens sont mis au rebut quand ils n'ont point un nom ou des titres à présenter; la naissance est une tache qui étouffe toutes les vertus; l'homme que la nature a doué du génie le plus vaste, des connoissances les plus rares, de la plus grande capacité, ne peut songer à se placer sur la même ligne qu'un stupide distingué par ses ayeux, mais qui n'est rien par lui-même. Que dis-je? Le grand homme ne peut se tirer de l'abjection qu'en rampant en esclave aux pieds de l'ignorance hautaine. Lorsqu'un heureux hazard élevè aux grandes places un homme obscur, capable de les remplir, le public s'indigne, et coro,plice d'un préjuge déshonorant qui l'avilit lui-même, il trouve très-étrange qu'au préjudice d'une noblesse trop fiere pour s'instruire, le choix soit tombé sur un mortel que sa naissance sembloit exclure du droit de servir son pays."
From the pride of ancestry branches off the science of heraldry, with all its uncouth, whimsical, and barbarous figures, " to feed the vanity," says our author, " of men curious to prove to the world that they are descended in a right line from some ferocious and vagrant savage."
Custom, in spite of law, reason, and religion—in spite of its manifest absurdity and folly, still compels men with a sceptre of iron to decide their quarrels, or avenge their affronts with the pistol or the sword, or drives them with shame and contempt from society, if they decline to carry desolation and misery into their own or their enemy's family.
It is an amiable prejudice which disposes man to prefer his native soil, its woods and vallies, to other countries— which reconciles the A rab to his trackless waste—the Greenlander to his fields of ice, and the Indian to his burning sun; for it was there that the light of Heaven first blessed their eyes; there they first felt; there they tasted the free delights of childhood, pure and undefiled, which still fill the memory, although they be passed away. So far it is a harmless, nay useful prejudice; but here it may not stop. If it grow up into vain and exclusive nationality, which despises the habits, manners, science, and literature, of other nations, then does it lose its amiableness, and become disgusting—then does it
i)rove injurious to society, by impeding the progress of intelect and the spread of knowledge. Ancient Greece did, and modern France does, with the same vanity, folly, and spirit of exclusion, reject everything that is not national. Rome and England, on the contrary, with all their nationality, "Imitari quam invidere bonis, malebant."
Another prevading prejudice is the excessive love of wealth—the respect which it exacts, and which is granted to it. Men mistake the means for the end; it becomes a morbid passion, which "grows by what it feeds on;" the more the dazzling heaps accumulate, the fiercer it burns, till its influence withers the young affections of the heart, and leaves its hopeless victim a monument of the fallacy of human expectations. A competency cannot be obtained without industry, but temperate well-directed industry will always secure it; and if man would regard his own feelings and social enjoyments, rather than heartless show and the opinion of the world, it would secure health and happiness also. Truth turns aside with disgust at the reception given to ill-acquired affluence—the homage paid to splendid iniquity.
A great portion of the evils which have afflicted the human race, M. Marsais traces to religion. He does not attempt to express, nor seem to feel, that there is any distinction between religion and the abuse of it. Himself, in the early part of his life, a member of an ecclesiastical body, he seems to have thought that the Catholic church was the Christian religion; and seeing the delusion, fanaticism, hatred, persecution, and bloodshed, which had grown out of it, he has, in the very spirit of prejudice, which he has been deprecating, concluded that what had been the occasion of so much misery, must in itself be false and erroneous. He confounds superstition with religion—the ambition, corruption, and mysticism of priests, who prohibited the use of the reasoning faculty, with a religion which teaches, in the spirit of charity and philosophy, to" prove all things, and hold fast that which is good."
M. Marsais, in conclusion, endeavours to shew that truth must sooner or later prevail over prejudice, and the obstacles by which it is opposed. He does not, however, indulge himself in depicting a state of absolute, but comparative, perfection; he takes not the views of the enthusiast, but of the philosopher; he argues not from imagination, but experience. A great obstacle to the extinction of prejudice is the opposition of men of power and influence, who either have an interest in perpetuating abuses, or no interest in removing evils, the inconvenience of which they do not feel.
The manner also in which truth and error are woven together, forms a web, the different threads of which are so twisted and mixed with each other, that it requires the utmost patience and skill to unravel them. But pure unmingled prejudice can no more withstand the touch of truth, than Satan could that of Ithuriel's spear; when they come in contact, the former must appear in its naked deformity, and the latter in characters of light, although false shame may prevent the world from adopting it, even when they recognize its beauty. The chains, and dungeons, and swords of power, may for a time suppress, but they can never extinguish, the energies of the soul of man. It is impelled forward by powers too mighty, to be controuled by the already withering arm of despotism: its progression is silent and slow, but it is unceasing, and tyranny and oppression must retreat before it; the seeds of truth are scattered over the globe, and will in time shoot forth into shrubs, bearing fruit again to seed, and again to be renewed.
Having thus gone through the work which forms the subject of the present article, the reader may possibly enquire the reason of our enlarging upon a topic which is by no means new. It was not, assuredly, because prejudices are more potent now than heretofore—a great many old ones have been worn away, and but a few new ones have sprung up—nor was it any prejudice in favour of the subject—our apology (if apology be necessary) must rest upon the work itself. The boldness and manliness of the sentiments, and the general tone of the work, struck us as something so novel in a French writer of that time, (without, however, forgetting the class of writers with whom the author was contemporary) that our admiration was irresistibly engaged—we sympathised in the indignant throbs of his heart at the degradation and miseries of his species, and his anxiety for the general happiness; and we admired him for his honest and unrepressed hatred of oppression, in all its shapes. The work before us is distinguished by a mild, candid, benevolent, and philosophical spirit. The author's reasoning is precise and forcible, and sometimes rapid and brilliant, and his conclusions are in general just. When he touches upon despotic government, or the mummeries of superstition, he becomes warm and energetic, and sometimes bursts out into eloquent declamation, but there is little of the violence of party, or the rancour of sect, to be found in this essay: his arguments are strong, without bitterness, and full of humanity and social kindness. The spirit of his style carries us pleasantly along with the subject, and though somewhat redundant, it is perspicuous. He had seen little of the world; and Fontenelle said of him, "C'est le nigaud le plus spirituel et l'homme d'esprit le plus nigaud que je connoisse."
Art. VII. Hydriotaphia, Urn Burial; or, a Discourse of the Sepulchral Urns lately found in Norfolk. By Thomas Browne, Dr. of Physic. London, printed for Charles Brome, 1686.
There are few writers who have taken for their especial themes death and the grave. Still fewer are they who have done justice to these subjects, so sublime and fearful. The poets and philosophers, indeed, all make no small use of the last solemn period to earthly enjoyments and hopes. It not only deepens the speculations of sages, and sheds a melancholy hue over the images of tragic poets, but heightens the feeling breathed forth in gay and festive songs. The fragility of delight is one of its most bewitehing attributes. We desire to grasp earnestly, that which is soon to pass away for ever. We feel as if we could make up in intensity for that which is wanting in duration, and live whole ages in a few short hours. All the affections of the human heart are rendered more august and sacred, by the mortality of the frame which is their present abode. This ever counteracts their tendency to cling to material objects, to grow to the delights of sense, and to lose their noblest and most disinterested qualities in the feeling of full satisfaction in those things which form but their temporary resting places, and refreshments in this palpable yet shifting scene. Destined to an eternity on earth, they might harden into a selfishness which would debase their essence. But when he who feels them, recognizes his own mortality and their eternal nature—when he knows that all sensual gratifications must perish, but that they shall endure—he nurtures them for their high and supernal destiny. In the spirit of immortality, he cherishes sentiments of devotion and self-sacrifice, learns to live beyond himself, and, denied the immediate range of those regions in which hereafter he will be a free traveller, seeks fit walk for his spirit among the ranks of humanity, and claims deep kindred with those who are journeying through earth with the same hopes and foretastes. Death imparts its most intense interest to life. It preserves to the spiritual part of man its own high prerogatives. Our sense of the