« 上一頁繼續 »
corrupt the imagination, and excite the envy of those who were employed to provide them; and so to render them discontented with their own present situation. On the contrary, the business of the labouring classes would be to supply the simple wants of nature, or those modest conveniences, with which the proudest of their fellow-citizens, and their fathers before them, were used to be satisfied.
It is not meant, however, by what is now advanced, that every one should be engaged in manual occupations, or in such as are of primary necessity; which, even in a small nation, might be inexpedient or impracticable. For suppose such a nation, planted in some favourable climate, where one half of them was sufficient to provide for the physical wants of the whole; of the other hal£ but a small proportion could properly be employed as physicians, philosophers, lawyers, or divines; and unless some new occupations be struck out to preserve the rest from idleness, distressing must be the condition, and probably short the duration
if no member of a body' politic be left unemployed in one way or other, innocently as to himself, and with some advantage to his fellow-citizens. . . ." . - Such employment is one of the greatest political objects: where this is duly provided for, where every citizen is usefully and honestly engaged, or, in other words, where idleness is excluded, and the arts of luxury are unknown, all must tend to individual and general good. Whether any people was ever placed precisely in this happy mediocrity, or whether it is an effect within the reach of human policy, may fairly be questioned. It is however certain, that in the progress of nations from barbarism to refinement, there is a point of nearest approach to this middle condition; and that to note when society has arrived at this point, there to arrest its progress and fix its station, or, if this cannot be effected, to hang upon its wheels, that its further advance may be as little and as slow as possible, is a design worthy the best attention, and the best efforts of the
III. On the third and last period, token the number of rich citizens constitutes a Considerable part of the community.
(i.) We have shown in the introduction to this work, that the: love of pleasure, the love of consequence, and the love of wealth, are the three great principles which rule in the bulk of mankind; with this difference, that wealth, although sometimes sought on its own account, is mostly regarded in subserviency to the two former objects, or as it encourages and promotes the pride and indulgences of life. In what respects it does this, may appear from the following reflections. , , ,"
1. As a man's consequence in the world much depends on the figure he makes in it, he will commonly be disposed to make the best he can. A tradesman who begins to thrive in his business, will display his growing fortune by his personal appearance, and by the improvement of his house and furniture; if he goes on to prosper, he will increase the number of his servants, set up his carriage, provide himself with a retreat villa, with well-stored gardens and ornamented grounds; and at length, perhaps, with almost a princely income, will withdraw himself entirely from mercantile affairs, and, if recommended by a little address and education, may find admission into the higher circles of society, and there form new connections and alliances. A like accession of wealth in any other way, will furnish out a similar career, and conduct to the same splendid distinctions to which others succeed by inheritance. All this must be observed by every one who at all looks abroad into the world, and, by an equitable judge, will be observed without a monkish or a republican severity. But however it may be granted, that in the advanced stages of society, a difference of rank, whether acquired or hereditary, with answerable outward distinctions, may be necessary to the maintenance of social order, and that such distinctions imply inequality of fortune, we must still lament, that this inequality is so often perverted from its proper use, to gratify a spirit of pride, or
2. Another effect of wealth is dissipation and amusement, especially among the nobility and gentry of a country. Persons of this rank being bred to no business, and, in general, I fear, unprovided with any great store of knowledge or learning; unformed to habits of application, or to the steady pursuit of any useful or laudable object; must almost inevitably be given up to a scattered and dissipated life. Plays and operas, balls and assemblies, gambling and horse-racing, with other empty and boisterous pastimes, will probably occupy their chief attention. Or, if there is any one who happens to be cast in a finer mould, to be endued with a taste for the polite arts or the belles lettres, he is likely to saunter away the day in some gallery of painting or statuary, antique or modern; in inspecting the cabinets of the curious, and other similar exhibitions; and to pass his evening, unless occasionally engaged at a concert or at the theatre, in something that he supposes to be literate or philosophical conversation. And should there yet remain a