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able sacrifices of his own gratification for the relief of others.
But his creed is a pernicious one. He who for ever thinks, that his “charity must begin at home,” is in great danger of becoming an indifferent citizen, and of withering those feelings of philanthropy, which in all sound estimation constitute the crowning glory of man. He will perhaps have a reasonable affection towards what he calls his own flesh and blood, and may assist even a stranger in a case of urgent distress.—But it is dangerous to trifle with the first principles and sentiments of morality. And this man will scarcely in any case have his mind prepared to hail the first dawnings of human improvement, and to regard all that belongs to the welfare of his kind as parcel of his own particular estate.
The creed of self-love will always have a tendency to make us Frenchmen in the frivolous part of that character, and Dutchmen in the plodding and shopkeeping spirit of barter and sale. There is no need that we should beat down the impulse of heroism in the human character, and be upon our guard against the effervescences and excess of a generous sentiment. One of the instructors of my youth was accustomed to say to his pupils, “Do not be afraid to commit your thoughts to paper in all the fervour and glow of your first conception : when you come to look at them the next day, you will find this gone off to a surprising degree.” As this
was no ill precept for literary composition, even so in our actions and moral conduct we shall be in small danger of being too warm-hearted and too generous.
Modern improvements in education are earnest in recommending to us the study of facts, and that we should not waste the time of young persons upon the flights of imagination. But it is to imagination that we are indebted for our highest enjoyments; it tames the ruggedness of uncivilised nature, and is the never-failing associate of all the considerable advances of social inan, whether in throwing down the strong fences of intellectual slavery, or in giving firmness and duration to the edifice of political freedom.
And who does not feel that every thing depends upon the creed we embrace, and the discipline we exercise over our own souls ?
The disciple of the theory of self-love, if of a liberal disposition, will perpetually whip himself forward “ with loose reins,” upon a spiritless Pega
say, “I will do generous things; I will not bring into contempt the master I serve—though I am conscious all the while that this is but a delusion, and that, however I brag of generosity, I do not set a step forward, but singly for my own ends, and my own gratification.” Meanwhile, this is all a forced condition of thought, and the man who cherishes it, will be perpetually falling back into the cold, heartless convictions he inwardly retains.
Self-love is the unwholesome, infectious atmosphere in which he dwells ; and, however he may seek to rise, the wings of his soul will eternally be drawn downwards, and he cannot be pervaded, as he might have been, with the free spirit of genuine philanthropy. To be consistent, he ought continually to grow colder and colder; and the romance, which fired his youth, and made him forget the venomous potion he had swallowed, will fade
age, rendering him careless of all but himself, and indifferent to the adversity and sufferings of all of whom he hears, and all with whom he is connected.
On the other hand, the man who has embraced the creed of disinterested benevolence, will know that it is not his fitting element, to “live for himself, or to die for himself.” Whether he is under the dominion of family-affection, friendship, patriotism, or a zeal for his brethren of mankind, he will feel that he is at home. The generous man therefore looks forward to the time when the chilling and wretched philosophy of the reign of Louis the Fourteenth shall be forgotten, and a fervent desire for the happiness and improvement of the human species shall reign in all hearts.
I am not especially desirous of sheltering my opinions under the authority of great names: but, in a question of such vital importance to the true welfare of men in society, no fair advantage should be neglected. The author of the system of “selflove the source of all our actions" was La Roche
foucault; and the whole herd of the French philosophers have not been ashamed to follow in the train of their vaunted master. I am grieved to say, that, as I think, the majority of my refining and subtilising countrymen of the present day have enlisted under his banner. But the more noble and generous view of the subject has been powerfully supported by Shaftesbury, Butler, Hutcheson and Hume. On the last of these I particularly pique myself; inasmuch as, though he became naturalised as a Frenchman in a vast variety of topics, the greatness of his intellectual powers exempted him from degradation in this.
That however which I would chiefly urge in the way of authority, is the thing mentioned in the beginning of this Essay, I mean, the sentiments that have animated the authors of religion, that charac. terise the best ages of Greece and Rome, and that in all cases display themselves when the loftiest and most generous sentiments of the heart are called into action. The opposite creed could only have been engendered in the dregs of a corrupt and emasculated court; and human nature will never shew itself what it is capable of being, till the last remains of a doctrine, invented in the latter part of the seventeenth century, shall have been consigned to the execration they deserve.
OF THE LIBERTY OF HUMAN ACTIONS.
The question, which has been attended with so long and obstinate debates, concerning the metaphysical doctrines of liberty and necessity, and the · freedom of human actions, is not even yet finally and satisfactorily settled.
The negative is made out by an argument which seems to amount to demonstration, that every event requires a cause, a cause why it is as it is and not otherwise, that the human will is guided by motives, and is consequently always ruled by the strongest motive, and that we can never choose anything, either without a motive of preference, or in the way
of following the weaker, and deserting the stronger motivea.
Why is it then that disbelief or doubt should still subsist in a question so fully decided ?
For the same reason that compels us to reject many other demonstrations. The human mind is so constituted as to oblige us, if not theoretically, at least practically, to reject demonstration, and adhere to our senses.
The case is thus in the great question of the nonexistence of an external world, or of matter. How
* Political Justice, Book IV, Chap. VII.