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sovereign dignity : Must he not be allowed something prodigious and extraordinary, and to have possessed great talents and capacity for business and action ? His historian, therefore, ought not to have alone related what tended to his reproach and infamy; but also what might redound to his PRAISE and HONOUR.
In general, we may observe, that the distinction of voluntary or involuntary was little regarded by the ancients in their moral reasonings; where they frequently treated the question as very doubtful, whether virtue could be taught or not * ? They justly considered, that cowardice, meanness, levity, anxiety, impatience, folly, and many other qualities of the mind, might appear ridiculous and deformed, contemptible and odious, though independent of the will. Nor could it be supposed, at all times, in every man's power to attain every kind of mental, more than of exterior beauty,
And here there recurs the fourth reflection which I purposed to make, in suggesting the reason, why modern philosophers haye often followed a course, in their moral inquiries, so different from that of the ancients. In later times, philosophy of all kinds, especially ethics, have been more closely united with theology than ever they were observed to be among the Heathens; and as this latter science admits of no terms of composition, but bends every branch of knowledge to its own purpose, without much regard to the phenomena of nature, or to the unbiassed sentiments of the mind, hence reasoning, and even language, have been warped from their natural course, and distinctions have been endeavoured to be established, where the difference of the object was, in a
* Vid. PLATO in MENONE, Seneca de otio sep. cap. 31. So also HORACE, Virtutem doctrina paret, naturane donet. Epist. lib. i. ep. 38. ÆscuINES SOCRATICUS, Dial. 1.
manner, imperceptible. Philosophers, or rather divines under that disguise, treating all morals as on a like footing with civil laws, guarded by the sanctions of reward and punishment, were necessarily led to render this circumstance, of voluntary or involuntary, the foundation of their whole theory. Every one may employ terms in what sense he pleases: But this, in the mean time, must be allowed, that sentiments are every day experien ced of blame and praise, which have objects beyond the dominion of the will or choice, and of which it behoves us, if not as moralists, as speculative philosophers at least, to give some satisfactory theory and explication.
A blemish, a fault, a vice, a crime; these expressions seem to denote different degrees of censure and disapprobation, which are, however, all of them, at the bottom, pretty nearly of the same kind or species. The explication of one will easily lead us into a just conception of the others; and it is of greater consequence to attend to things than to verbal appellations. That we owe a duty to ourselves is confessed even in the most vulgar system of morals; and it must be of consequence to examine that duty, in order to see, whether it bears any affinity to that which we owe to society. It is probable, that the approbation, attending the observance of both, is of a similar nature, and arises from similar principles ; whatever appellation we may give to either of these excellencies.
My friend, PALAMEDES, who is as great a rambler in his principles as in his person, and who has run over, by study and travel, almost every region of the intellectual and material world, surprised me lately with an account of a nation, with whom, he told me, he had passed a considerable part of his life, and whom he found, in the main, a people extremely civilized and intelligent.
There is a country, said he, in the world, called FOURLI, no matter for its longitude or latitude, whose inhabitants have ways of thinking, in many things, particularly in morals, diametrically opposite to ours. When I came among them, I found that I must submit to double pains; first to learn the meaning of the terms in their language, and then to know the import of those terms, and the praise or blame attached to them. After a word had been explained to me, and the character, which it expressed, had been described, I concluded, that such an epithet must necessarily be the greatest reproach in the world ; and was extremely surprised to find one in a public company, apply it to a person, with whom he lived in the strictest intimacy and friendship. You fancy, said I, one day, to an 'acquaintance, that CHANGUIS is your mortal enemy: I love to extinguish quarrels; and I must, therefore, tell you, that I heard him talk of you in tbe most obliging manner. But to my great astonishment,
when I repeated CHANGUIS's words, though I had both remembered and understood them perfectly, I found; that they were taken for the most mortal affront, and that I had very innocently rendered the breach between these persons altogether irreparable.
As it was my fortune to come among this people on a very advantageous footing, I was immediately introdus. ced to the best company; and being desired by ALCHEIC to live with him, I readily accepted of his invitation; as: I found him universally esteemed for his personal merit, and indeed regarded by every one in FourLI as a perfect character.
One evening he invited me, as an amusement, to bear. him company in a serenade, which he intended to give to GULKI, with whom, he told me, he was extremely, enamoured; and I soon found that his taste was not singular: For we met many of his rivals, who had come on the same errand. I very naturally concluded, that this mistress of his must be one of the finest women in town; and I already felt a secret inclination to see her, and be acquainted with her. But as the moon began to rise, I was much surprised to find, that we were in the midst of the university where GULKI studied: And I was somewhat ashamed for having attended my friend on such an errand.
I was afterwards told, that ALCHEIC's choice of GULKI was very much approved of by all the good company in town; and that it was expected, while he gratified his own passion, he would perform to that young man the same good office, which he had himself owed to ELCOUF. It seems ALCHEIC had been very handsome in his youth, had been courted by many lovers ; but had bestowed his favours chiefly on the sage ELCOUF; to whom he was supposed to owe, in a great measure,