Abbildungen der Seite

gry, the punishment of an adversary is totally indifferent to me. In all these cases, there is a passion, which points immediately to the object, and constitutes it our good or happiness; as there are other secondary passions, which afterwards arife, and pursue it as a part of our happiness, when once it is const' uteu such by our original affections. Were no appetite of any kind antecedent to self-love, that propensity could scarcely ever exert itself; because we should, in that case, have felt few and sender pains or pleasures, and have little misery or happiness to avoid or to pursue.

Now where is the difficulty in conceiving, that this may likewise by the case with benevolence and friendship, and that, from the original frame of our temper, we may feel a defire of another's happiness or good, which, by means of that affection, becomes our own good, and is afterwards pursued, from the combined motives of benevolence and self-enjoyment? Who fees not that vengeance, froin the force alone of passion, may be fo eagerly pursued, as to make us knowingly neglect every consideration of ease, or safe

ty; and, like some vindictive animals, infuse our . very souls into the wounds we give an enemy *?

And what a malignant philosophy must it be, that will not allow, to humanity and friendfhip, the same privileges, which are undisputably granted to the darker passions of enmity and resentment? Such a philosophy is more like a fatyr than a true delineation or defcription of human nature; and may be a good foundation for paradoxical wit and raillery, but is a very bad one for any serious argument or reasoning.


. Virg. Dum alteri noceat, sui negligens, says Seneca of Anger. De Era, I. i.

* Animafque in vulnere ponunt.


SOME FARTHER Considerations with regard


THE intention of this Appendix is to give some more particular explication of the origin and nature of Justice, and to mark some differences between it and the other virtues.

The focial virtues of humanity and benevolence exert their influence immediately, by a di- . rect tendency or instinct, which chiefly keeps in view the simple object, inoving the affections, and comprehends not any scheme or system, nor the consequences resulting from the concurrence, initation, or example of others. A parent Aies to the relief of his child; transported by that natural sympathy, which actuates him, and which affords no leisure to reflect on the sentiments or conduct of the rest of inankind in like circumstances. A generous inan chearfully embraces an opportunity of serving his friend; because he then feels himself under the dominion of the beneficent affections, nor is he concerned whether any other person in the universe were ever before actuated by such noble motives, or will ever afterwards prove their influence. In all thefe cases, the 10cial passions have in view a single individual object, and pursue the safety or happiness alone of


the person loved and esteemed. With this thev are satisfied: In this, they acquiesce. And as the good, resulting from their benign influence, is in itself compleat and entire, it alfo excites the moral sentiment of approbation, without any refection on farther consequences, and without any more enlarged views of the concurrence or imitation of the other members of society. . On the contrary, were the generous friend or disinterested patriot to stand alone in the practice of beneficence; this would rather inhance his value in our eyes, and join the praise of rarity and novelty to his other more exalted merits. - The case is not the same with the social virtues of justice and fidelity. They are highly useful, or indeed absolutely necessary to the well-being of mankind : But the benefit, resulting from them, is not the consequence of every individual fingle act; but arises form the whole fcheme or fystem, concurred in by the whole, or the greater part of - the society. General peace and order are the attendants of justice or a general abstinence from the poffessions of others; But a particular regard to the particular right of one individual citizen may frequently, considered in itself, be productive of pernicious consequences. The result of the individual acts is here, in many instances, directly opposite to that of the whole fystem of actions; and the former may be extremely hurtful, while the · latter is, to the highest degree, advantageous. . Riches, inherited from a parent, are, in a bad man's hand, the instrument of mischief. The right of succession may, in one instance, be hurtful. Its benefit arises only from the observance of the general rule; and it is fufficient, if compensation be thereby inade for all the ills and inconveniençies, which flow from particular characters and situations.


[ocr errors]

Cyrus, young and unexperienced, considered only the individual case before him, and reflected

on a limited fitness and convenience, when he - assigned the long coat to the tall boy, and the

short coat to the other of sinaller size. His governor inftru&ed hiin better; while he pointed out more enlarged views and consequences, and informed his pupil of the general, inflexible rules, necessary to support general peace and order in society.

The happiness and prosperity of mankind, arifing from the social virtue of benevolence and its fubdivisions, may be compared to a wall, built by inany hands; which still rises by each stone, that is heaped upon it, and receives increase proportional to the diligence and care of each workman. The same happiness, raised by the social virtue of justice and its subdivisions, may be compared to a building of a vault, where each individual stone would, of itself, fall to the ground; nor is the whole fabric supported but by the mutual asliftItance and combination of its corresponding parts.

All the laws of nature, which regulate property, as well as all civil laws, are general, and regard alone some essential circumstances of the case, without taking into consideration the characters, fituations, and connexions of the person concerned, or any particular consequences which may result from the determination of these laws, in any particular case which offers. They deprive, without feruple, a beneficent man of all its poffeffions, if acquired by mistake, without a good title; in order to beftow them on a selfish miser, who has already heaped up iminense stores of superfluous riches. Public utility requires, that property should be regulated by general inflexible rules; and though such rules are adopted as best serve the same end of public utility, it is impossible for them to prevent all particular hardships, or make beneficial


confequences result from every individual case. It is sufficient, if the whole plan or scheme be necessary to the support of civil society, and if the balance of good, in the main, do thereby preponderate much above that of evil. Even the general laws of the universe, though planned by infinite wifdom, cannot exclude all evil or inconvenience, in every particular operation.

It has been asserted by some, that justice arises from Human Conventions, and proceeds from the voluntary choice, consent, or combination of mankind. If by convention be here meant a promise (which is the most usual sense of the word) nothing can be more absurd than this position. The observance of promises is itself one of the most considerable parts of justice; and we are not surely bound to keep our word, because we have given our word to keep it. But if by convention be meant a sense of common interest; which sense each man feels in his own breast, which he remarks in his fellows, and which carries him, in concurrence with others, into a general plan or system of actions, which tends to public utility; it must be owned, that, in this sense, justice arises from human conventions. For if it be allowed (what is, indeed, evident) that the particular confequences of a particular act of justice may be hurtful to the public as well as to individuals; it follows, that every man, in embracing that virtue, must have an eye to the whole plan or system, and must expect the concurrence of his fellows in the same conduct and behaviour. Did all his yiews terminate in the consequences of each act of his own, his benevolence and humanity, as well as his felf-love, might often prescribe to him measures of conduct very different from those, which are agreeable to the strict rules of right and juf{tice.

[ocr errors][merged small]
« ZurückWeiter »