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with the world, it finds that ideas, which it had been taught to regard as sacred, are treated by enlightened and worthy men with ridicule, is apt to lose its reverence for the fundamental and eternal truths on which these accessory ideas are grafted, and easily falls a prey to that sceptical philosophy, which teaches that all the opinions and all the principles of action by which mankind are governed, may be traced to the influence of education and example. Amidst the infinite variety of forms, however, which our versatile nature assumes, it cannot fail to strike an attentive observer, that there are certain indelible features common to them all. In one situation, we find good men attached to a republican form of government; in another to a monarchy; but in all situations, we find them devoted to the service of their country and mankind, and disposed to regard with reverence and love, the most absurd and capricious institutions which custom has led them to connect with the order of society. The different appearances, therefore, which the political opinions and the political conduct of men exhibit, while they demonstrate to what a wonderful degree human nature may be influenced by situation and by early instruction, evince the existence of some common and original principles, which fit it for the political union, and illustrate the uniform operation of those laws of association, to which, in all stages of society, it is equally subject.
Similar observations are applicable, and, indeed, in a still more striking degree, to the opinions of mankind on the important questions of religion and morality. The variety of systems which they have formed to themselves concerning these subjects, has often excited the ridicule of the sceptic and the libertine; but if, on the one hand, this variety shows the folly of bigotry, and the reasonableness of mutual indulgence; the curiosity which has led men in every situation, to such speculations, and the influence which their conclusions, however absurd, have had on their character and their happiness, prove no less clearly on the other, that there must be some principles from which they all derive their origin; and invite the philosopher to ascertain what are these original and immutable laws of the human mind. “Examine,” says Hume, “the religious
principles, which have prevailed in the world. You will scarcely be persuaded, that they are anything but sick men's dreams; or, perhaps, will regard them more as the playsome whimseys of monkeys in human shape, than the serious, positive, dogma-. tical asseverations of a being who dignifies himself with the name of rational. To oppose the torrent of scholastic relig: ion by such feeble maxims as these, that it is possible for the same thing to be and not to be; that the whole is greater than a part; that two and three make five; is pretending to stopthe ocean with a bulrush.” But what is the inference to wbich we are led by these observations? Is it, to use the words of this ingenious writer, " that the whole is a riddle, an enigma; an inexplicable mystery; and that doubt, uncertainty, and sus=pense, appear the only result of our most accurate scrutiny concerning this subject.” Or should not rather the melancholy histories which he has: exhibited of the follies and caprices of superstition, direct our attention to those sacred and indelible characters on the human mind, which all these perversions of reason are unable to obliterate; like that image of himself which Phidiasi wished to perpetuate, by stamping it so deeply. on the buckler of his Minerva, that no one could obliterate ordetach it without destroying the whole statue. In truth, the more strange the contradictions, and the more ludicrous the ceremonies to which the pride of human reason has thus been reconciled; the stronger is our evidence that religion has a foundation in the nature of man. When the greatest of modern philosophers declares, that "he would rather believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without mind;" (Lord Bacon in his Essays;) he has expressed the same feeling, which, in all ages and nations, has led good men, unaccustomed to reasoning, to an implicit faith in the creed of their infancy; a feeling which affords an evidence of the existence of the Deity, incomparably more striking, than if, unmixed with error and undebased by superstition, this most important of all principles had: commanded the universal assent of mankind. Where are the other truths, in the whole circle of the sciences, which are so essential to human happiness, as to procure an easy access not. only for themselves, but for whatever opinions may happen to be blended with them? Where are the truths so venerable and commanding, as to impart their own sublimity to every trifling memorial which recalls them to our remembrance; toi bestow solemnity and elevation on every mode of expression by which they are conveyed; and which, in whatever scene they have habitually occupied the thoughts, consecrate every object which it presents to our senses, and the very ground we have been accustomed to tread? To attempt to weaken the authority of such impressions, by a detail of the endless variety of forms which they derive from casual associations, is surely an employment unsuitable to the dignity of philosophy. To the vulgar it may be amusing in this as in other instances, to indulge their wonder at what is new or uncommon; but to the philosopher it belongs to perceive, under all these various disguises, the workings of the same common nature; and in the superstitions of Egypt, no less than in the lofty visions of Plato, to recognise the existence of those moral ties which unite the heart of man to the Author of his being,
45.—THE ENCOUNTER OF BRAVE AND THE PANTHER.
In this manner the young ladies proceeded along the margin of the precipice, catching occasional glimpses of the placid Otsego, when Elizabeth suddenly started and exclaimed, “Listen! there are the cries of a child on this mountain! Is there a clearing near us? or can some little one have strayed from its parents ?” "Such things frequently happen,' returned Louisa. “Let us follow the sounds; it may be a wanderer starving on the hill.” Urged by this consideration, the females pursued with quick and impatient steps the low mournful sounds that proceeded from the forest. More than once the ardent Elizabeth was on the point of announcing that she saw the sufferer, when Louisa. caught her by the arm, and pointing behind them, cried, “Look at the dog!” Brave had been their companion from the time the voice of his young mistress lured him from his kemel to
the present moment. His advanced age had long deprived him of his activity, and when his companions stopped to view the scenery or to add to their bouquets, the mastiff would lay his huge frame on the ground, and await their movements with his eyes closed, and a listlessness in his air, that ill accorded with the character of a protector. But when, aroused by this cry from Louisa, Miss Temple turned, she saw the dog with his eyes keenly set on some distant object, his head bent near the ground, and his hair actually rising on his body either through fright or anger. It was most probably the latter, for he was growling in a low key, and occasionally showing his teeth in a manner that would have terrified his mistress, had she not so well known his good qualities. “Brave !" she said ;“ be quiet, Brave; what do you see, fellow?” At the sound of her voice, the rage of the mastiff, instead of being at all diminished, was very sensibly increased. He stalked in front of the ladies, and seated himself at the feet of his mistress, growling louder than before, and occasionally giving vent to his ire by a short surly barking. “What does he see!” said Elizabeth, “there must be some animal in sight.” Hearing no answer from her companion, Miss Temple turned her head, and beheld Louisa, standing with her face whitened to the colour of death, and her finger pointing upward with a sort of flickering, convulsed motion. The quick eye of Elizabeth glanced in the direction indicated by her friend, where she saw the fierce front and glaring eyes of a female panther fixed on them in horrid malignity, and threatening instant destruction. “Let us ily," exclaimed Elizabeth, grasping the arm of Louisa, whose form yielded like melting snow, and sunk lifeless to the earth. There was not a single feeling in the temperament of Elizabeth Temple that could prompt her to desert a companion in such an extremity, and she fell on her knees by the side of the inanimate Louisa, tearing from the person of her friend, with an instinctive readiness, such parts of her dress as might obstruct her respiration, and encouraging their only safeguard, the dog, at the same time by the sounds of her voice. “Courage, Brave, she cried, her own tones beginning to tremble; “ courage, courage, good Brave."
A quarter-grown cub, that had hitherto been unseen, now appeared, dropping from the branches of a sapling, that grew under the shade of the beech which held its dam. This ignorant but vicious creature, approached near to the dog, imitating the actions and sounds of its parent, but exhibiting a strange mixture of the playfulness of a kitten with the ferocity of its race. Standing on its hind legs, it would rend the bark of a tree with its forepaws, and play all the antics of a cat for a moment; and then, by lashing itself with its tail, growling and scratching the earth, it would attempt the manifestations of anger that rendered its parent so terrible.
All this time Brave stood firm and undaunted, his short tail erect, his body drawn backward on its haunches, and his eyes following the movements of both dam and cub. At every gambol played by the latter, it approached nigher to the dog, the growling of the three becoming more horrid at each moment, until the younger beast, overleaping its intended bound, fell directly before the mastiff. There was a moment of fearful cries and struggles, but they ended almost as soon as commenced, by the cub appearing in the air, hurled from the jaws of Brave, with a violence that sent it against a tree so forcibly as to render it completely senseless. Elizabeth witnessed the short struggle, and her blood was warming with the triumph of the dog, when she saw the form of the old panther in the air springing twenty feet from the branch of the beech to the back of the mastiff. No words of ours can describe the fury of the conflict that followed. It was a confused struggle on the dried leaves, accompanied by loud and terrible cries, barks, and growls. Miss Temple continued on her knees, bending over the form of Louisa, her eyes fixed on the animals, with an interest so horrid, and yet so intense, that she almost forgot her own stake in the result. So rapid and vigorous were the bounds of the inhabitant of the forest, that its active frame seemed constantly in the air, while the dog nobly faced the foe at each successive leap. When the panther lighted on the shoulders of the mastiff, which was its constant aim, old Brave, though torn with her talons, and stained with his own blood, that already flowed from a dozen wounds, would shake off his furious