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Callicles.* The passage is curious, and might be entitled, a Jacobin head, a genuine antique, in high preservation. “By nature,” exclaims this Napoleon of old, “the worse off is always the more infamous, that, namely, which suffers wrong ; but according to the law it is the doing of wrong. For no man of noble spirit will let himself be wronged ; this a slave only endures, who is not worth the life he has, and under injuries and insults can neither help himself nor those that belong to him. Those, who first made the laws, were, in my opinion, feeble creatures, which in fact the greater number of men are ; or they would not remain entangled in these spider-webs. Such, however, being the case, laws, honor, and ignominy were all calculated for the advantage of the law-makers. But in order to frighten away the stronger, whom they could not coerce by fair contest, and to Secure greater advantages for themselves than their feebleness could otherwise have procured, they preached up the doctrine, that it was base and contrary to right to wish to have any thing beyond others; and that in this wish consisted the essence of injustice. Doubtless it was very agreeable to them, if being creatures of a meaner class they were allowed to share equally with their natural superiors. But nature dictates plainly enough another code of right, namely, that the nobler and stronger should possess more than the weaker and more pusillanimous. Where the power is, there lies the substantial right. The whole realm of animals, may the human race itself as collected in independent states and nations, demonstrates that the stronger has a right to control the weaker for his own advantage. Assuredly, they have the genuine motion of right, and follow the law of nature, though truly not that which is holden valid in our governments. But the minds of our youths are preached away from them by declamations on the beauty and fitness of letting themselves be mastered, till by these verbal conjurations the noblest nature is tamed and cowed, like a young lion born and bred in a cage. Should a man with full untamed force but once step forward, he would break all your spells and conjurations, trample your contra-natural laws under his feet, vault into the seat of supreme power, and in a splendid style make the right of nature be valid among you.”
It would have been well for mankind, if such had always been the language of sophistry. A selfishness, that excludes partnership, all men have an interest in repelling. Yet the principle is the same : and if for power we substitute pleasure and the means of pleasure, it is easy to construct a system well fitted to corrupt natures, and the more mischievous in proportion as it is less alarming. As long as the spirit of philosophy reigns in the learned and highest class, and that of religion in all classes, a tendency to blend and unite will be found in all objects of pursuit, and the whole discipline of mind and manners will be calculated in relation to the worth of the agents. With the prevalence of sophistry, when the pure will (if indeed the existence of a will be admitted in any other sense than as the temporary main current in the wide gust-eddying stream of our desires and aversions)—with this prevalence of sophistry, when the pure will is ranked among the means to an alien end, instead of being itself the one absolute end, in the participation of which all other things are worthy to be called good, commences the epoch of division and separation. Things are rapidly improved, persons as rapidly deteriorated ; and for an indefinite period the powers of the aggregate increase, as the strength of the individual de clines. Still, however, sciences may be estranged from philosophy, the practical from the speculative, and one of the two at least may remain. Music may be divided from poetry, and both may continue to exist, though with diminished influence. But religion and morals cannot be disjoined without the destruction of both and that this does not take place to the full extent, we' owe to the frequency with which both take shelter in the heart, and that men are always better or worse than the maxims which they adopt or concede.
To demonstrate the hollowness of the present system, and to deduce the truth from its sources, is not possible for me without a previous agreement as to the principles of reasoning in general. The attempt could neither be made within the limits of the present work, nor would its success greatly affect the immediate moral interests of the majority of the readers for whom this work was especially written. For as sciences are systems on principles, so in the life of practice is morality a principle without a system. Systems of morality are in truth nothing more than the old books of casuistry generalized, even of that casuistry, which
the genius of Protestantism gradually worked off from itself like a heterogeneous humor, together with the practice of auricular confession;–a fact the more striking, because in both instances it was against the intention of the first teachers of the Reformation ; and the revival of both was not only urged, but provided for, though in vain, by no less men than Bishops Saunderson and Jeremy Taylor.
But there is yet another prohibitory reason ; and this I can not convey more effectually than in the words of Plato to Dionysius :
Yet that I may fulfil the original scope of The Friend, I shall attempt to provide the preparatory steps for such an investigation in the following essays on the principles of method common to all investigations; which I here present, as the basis of my future philosophical and theological writings, and as the necessary introduction to the same. And in addition to this, I can conceive no object of inquiry more appropriate, none which, commencing with the most familiar truths, with facts of hourly experience, and gradually winning its way to positions the most comprehensive and sublime, will more aptly prepare the mind for the reception of specific knowledge, than the full exposition of a principle which is the condition of all intellectual progress, and which may be said even to constitute the science of education, alike in the narrowest and in the most extensive sense of the word. Yet as it is but fair to let the public know beforehand, what the genius of my philosophy is, and in what spirit it will be applied by me, whether in politics or religion, I conclude with the following brief history of the last hundred and thirty years by a lover of Old England.
Wise and necessitated confirmation and explanation of the law of England, erroneously entitled The English Revolution of
# Epist. Dionysio. II.-Ed.
1688; mechanical philosophy, hailed as a kindred movement, and espoused, as a common cause, by the partisans of the revolution in the state. . The consequence is, or was, a system of natural rights instead of social and hereditary privileges; acquiescence in historic testimony substituted for faith, and yet the true historical feeling, the feeling of being an historical people, generation linked to generation by ancestral reputation, by tradition, by heraldry, this noble feeling, I say, openly stormed or perilously undermined. Imagination excluded from poesy, and fancy paramount in physics; the eclipse of the ideal by the mere shadow of the sensible ; subfiction for supposition. Plebs pro senato populogue ; the wealth of nations for the well-being of nations, and of man. Anglo-mania in France followed by revolution in America : constitution of America appropriate, perhaps, to America, but elevated from a particular experiment to a universal model. The word constitution altered to mean a capitulation, a treaty, imposed by the people on their own government, as on a conquered enemy; hence giving sanction to falsehood and universality to anomaly. T]espotism, despotism, despotism, of finance in statistics, of vanity in social converse, of presumption and overweening contempt of the ancients in individuals. French Revolution ; pauperism, revenue laws, government by clubs, committees, societies, reviews, and newspapers. Thus it is that a nation first sets fire to a neighboring nation ; then catches fire and burns backward. Statesmen should know that a learned class is an essential element, of a state, at least of a Christian state. But you wish for general illumination You begin with the attempt to popularize learning and philosophy; but you will end in the plebification of knowledge. A true philosophy in the learned class is essential to a true religious feeling in all classes. In fine, religion, true or false, is and ever has been the moral centre of gravity in Christendom, to which all other things must and will accommodate themselves. f
E S S A Y I W.
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Hear then what are the terms on which you and I ought to stand toward each other. If you hold philosophy altogether in contempt, bidit farewell. Or if you have heard from any other person, or have yourself found out a better than mine, then give honor to that, whichever it be. But if the doctrine taught in these our works please you, then it is but just that you should honor me too in the same proportion.
WHAT is that which first strikes us, and strikes us at once, in a shan of education, and which, among educated men, so instantly distinguishes the man of superior mind, that (as was observed with eminent propriety of the late Edmund Burke) “we can not stand under the same archway during a shower of rain, without finding him out 7” Not the weight or novelty of his remarks ; not any unusual interest of facts communicated by him ; for we may suppose both the one and the other precluded by the shortness of our intercourse, and the triviality of the subjects. The difference will be impressed and felt, though the conversation should be confined to the state of the weather or the pavement. Still less will it arise from any peculiarity in his words and phrases. For if he be, as we now assume, a well-educated man as well as a man of superior powers, he will not fail to follow the golden rule of Julius Caesar, insolens verówno, ta/277/6/12 scopulum, evitare. Unless where new things necessitate new terms, he will avoid an unusual word as a rock. It must have been among the earliest lessons of his youth, that the breach of this precept, at all times hazardous, becomes ridiculous in the topics of ordinary conversation. There remains but one other
* Epist. Dionysio. II—Ed.