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they think, that they have fully attained the end of all their labours.
The other species of philosophers treat man rather as a reasonable than an active being, and endeavour to form his understanding more than cultivate his manners. They regard mankind as a subject of speculation ; and with a narrow scrutiny examine human nature, in order to find those principles, which regulate our understanding, excite our sentiments, and make us approve or blame any particular object, action, or behaviour. They think it a reproach to all literature, that philosophy should not yet have fixed, beyond controversy, the foundation of morals, reasoning, and criticism, and should for ever talk of truth and falsehood, vice and virtue, beauty and deformity, without being able to determine the source of these distinctions. While they attempt this arduous task, they are deterred by no difficulties; but proceeding from particular instances to general principles, they still push on their inquiries to principles more general, and rest not satisfied till they arrive at those original principles, by which, in every science, all human curiosity must be bounded. Tho' their speculations seem abstract, and even unintelligible to common readers, they please themselves with the approbation of the learned and the wise ; and think themselves sufficiently compensated for the labours of their whole lives, if they can discover some hidden truths, which may contribute to the instruction of pofterity:
'Tis certain, that the easy and obvious philosophy will always, with the generality of mankind, have the preference to the accurate and abstruse ; and by many will be recommended, not only as more agreeable, but more useful than the other. It enters more into common life; moulds the heart and affections ; and, by touching those principles which actuate men, reforms their conduct, and
brings them nearer that model of perfection which it describes. On the contrary, the abstruse philosophy, being founded on a turn of mind, which cannot enter into business and action, vanishes when the philosopher leaves the shade, and comes into open day ; nor can its principles easily retain any influence over our conduct and behaviour. The feelings of our sentiments, the agitations of our paffions, the vehemence of our affections, disipate all its conclusions, and reduce the profound philosopher to a mere plebeian.
This also must be confessed, that the most durable, as well as juftest fame has been acquired by the easy philosophy, and that abstract reasoners seem hitherto to have enjoyed only a momentary reputation, from the caprice or ignorance of their own age, but have not been able to support their renown with more equitable posterity. 'Tis easy for a profound philosopher to commit a mistake in his subtile reasonings, and one mistake is the necessary parent of another, while he pushes on his consequences, and is not deterred from embracing any conclusion, by its unusual appearance, or its contradiction to popular opinion. But a philosopher who proposes cn-. ly to represent the common sense of mankind in more beautiful and more engaging colours, if by accident he commits a mistake, goes no farther ; but renewing his appeal to common sense, and the natural sentiments of the mind, returns into the right path, and secures hiinself from any dangerous illusions. The fame of CoCERO Aourishes at present; but that of ARISTOTLE is utterly decayed. La BRUYERE pafles the seas, and still maintains his reputation : But the glory of MALEBRANCHE is confined to his own nation, and to his own age. And Addison, perhaps, will be read with pleasure, when Locke shall be entirely forgotten.
The mere philosopher is a character which is commonly but little acceptable in the world, as being supposed to contribute nothing either to the advantage or pleasure of fociety; while he lives remote from communication with mankind, and is wrapped up in principles and notions equally remote from their comprehension. On the other hand, the mere ignorant is still more defpifed ; nor is any thing deemed a surer sign of an illiberal genius in an age
and na:ion where the fciences Aourish, than to be intirely void of all relish for those noble entertainments. The most perfect character is supposed to lie between those extremes ; retaining an equal ability and taste for books, company, and business ; preserving in conversation that discernment and delicacy which arife from polite letters; and in bufiness, that probity and accuracy which are the natural result of a just philosophy. In order to diffuse and cultivate fo accomplished a character, nothing can be more useful than compositions of the easy Ayle and manner, which draw not too much from life, require no deep application or retreat to be comprehended, and send back the student among mankind full of noble sentiments and wise precepts, applicable to every exigence of human life. By means of such compositions, virtue becomes amiable, science agreeable, company instructiven and retirement entertaining.
Man is a reasonable being; and as such, receives from science his proper food and nourishment: But so narrow are the bounds of human understanding, that little satisface tion can be hoped for in this particular, either from the extent or security of his acquisitions. Man is a sociable, no less than a reasonable being : But neither can he al ways enjoy company agreeable and amufing, or preserve the proper relish of them. Man is also an active being ; and from that difpofition, as well as from the various neceflities of human life, must submit to bufiness and oc
cupation : But the mind requires fome relaxation, and cannot always support its bent to care and industry. It seems, then, that nature has pointed out a mixed kind of life as most suitable to human race, and secretly admo. nithed them to allow none of these biasses to draw too much, so as to incapacitate them for other occupations and entertainments. Indulge your passion for science, says she, but let your science be human, and such as may have a direct reference to action and society. Abstruse thought and profound researches I prohibit, and will sem verely punish, by the pensive melancholy which they im troduce, by the endless uncertainty in which they involve you, and by the cold reception which your pretended discoveries will meet with, when communicated. Be a philosopher ; but, amidst all your philosophy, be still
Were the generality of mankind contented to prefer the eafy philofophy to the abstract and profound, with out throwing any blame or contempt on the latter, it might not be improper, perhaps, to comply with this general opinion, and allow every man to enjoy, without opposition, his own taste and sentiment. But as the matter is often carried farther, even to the absolute rejecting all profound reasonings, or what is commonly. called metaphysics, we shall now proceed to consider what can reasonably be pleaded in their behalf.
: We may begin with observing, that one considerable advantage which results from the accurate and abstract philosophy, is, its subferviency to the easy and humane ; which, without the former, can never attain a sufficient degree of exactness in its sentiments, precepts, or rea. fonings. All polite letters are nothing but pidures of human life in various attitudes and situations, and inspire us with different sentiments, of praise or blame, admiration or ridicule, according to the qualities of the object
which they set before us. An artist must be better qualified to succeed in this undertaking, who, besides a delicate taste and a quick apprehension, possesses an accurate knowledge of the internal fabric, the operations of the understanding, the workings of the passions, and the various species of fentiment which discriminate vice and virtue. However painful this inward fearch or inquiry may appear, it becomes, in some measure, requisite to thofe, who would describe with success the obvious and outward appearances of life and manners. The anatomift presents to the eye the most hideous and disagreeable objects ; but his science is highly useful to the painter in delineating even a Venus or an HELEN. While the lätter employs all the richest colours of his art, and gives his figures the most graceful and engaging airs; he must still carry his attention to the inward structure of the human body, the position of the muscles, the fabric of the bones, and the use and figure of every part or organ. Accuracy is, in every case, advantageous to beauty, and just reasoning to delicate sentiments. ' In vain would we exalt the one by depreciating the other.
Besides, we may observe, in every art or profession, even those which most concern life or action, that a fpirit of accuracy, however acquired, carries all of them nearer their perfection, and renders them more fubfervient to the interests of society. And tho' a philosopher inay
live remote from business, the genius of philosophy, if carefully cultivated by several, must gradually diffuse itself thro' the whole society, and bestow a similar correctness on every art and calling. The politician will acquire greater foresight and subtilty, in the subdividing and balancing of power; the lawyer more method and finer principles in his reasonings ; and the general more regularity in his discipline, and more caution in his plans and operation. The stability of modern govern