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were chiefly occupied in the gratification of their sensual appetites, finding here no pleasures of the table, nor wine to drink, nor any object of desire, and having not learned to love wisdom and instruction, soon follow the beasts, and, ceasing to strive or think, fall (like them) asleep. The spirits of the avaricious take a rather more extensive range: but as here is no silver or gold, on which to fix their affections, their minds soon languish, and they also fall asleep. Ambitious, vain, and malicious spirits, possessing more activity, expatiate more widely: but, as here is no superiority but that of goodness and wisdom, no vanity to be gratified, and no malignity to be spread abroad, at length they pine away, and, gradually ceasing to think at all, fall into a state of repose and inactivity.
The more active spirits, who ranged unconfined till they joined the immortals, were of a very different nature in their former state: for they then had learned to love the two sources of immortal life, goodness and wisdom; and in changing their state they do not alter their employment. Here is continual food for their exertions; and they are actuated by that unceasing energy of mind which is life everlasting. The immortals take a pleasure in improving these exertions; and the meanest rational being who persists in the right way, shall hereafter be as enlightened and as good as is now the highest created spirit; for the highest created spirit was as ignorant and as low, as is now the meanest of mortal spirits.'-The an gel proceeds to explain the reasons why labour and trouble were given in the present world: since that is the price of eter nal life; and they are to be accounted happy, who by much suffering attain to the great reward. The ignorance of men Occasions in the present age the loss of many spirits; but the time will come, when mankind will be more enlightened, and fewer perish for ever.
If then we believe the angel, there is only one pursuit wor thy of a rational being, and by this must every action of his life be judged. To the author, it appears
That the great object which the human race ought to pursue, and the attainment of which they ought to regard as the business of their lives, is not to produce happiness, pleasure, or felicity, in themselves or others; but that, on the contrary, the end for which they were formed, and which alone they can pursue with success, is the improvement of their whole intellectual faculties, whether speculative or active. In one word, it is the business of man in this world to endeavour to become an excellent being, possessing high powers of energy and intelligence. This is his chief good; and ought to be the great and ultimate object of his pursuit, to which every other consideration ought to be sacrificed.
If this principle, that intellectual excellence, or the perfection of
the mind and of its rational powers, is the most important and valuable object of human pursuit, can be clearly established, it will follow, that those actions are good, and right, and best, which produce, not happiness or pleasure, but the greatest portion of knowledge, ability, and intellectual perfection in the world; and that those actions are the worst, which produce, or have a tendency to produce, not suffering, but the greatest degree of ignorance, of stupidity, and of intellectual weakness and degradation. It will even follow, that the rulers of nations (though they are seldom so well employed do actually misapply their labour, and mistake their duty, when they imagine that their proper business consists in conferring felicity upon their fellow-creatures.
I shall here endeavour to prove, that the great task, to the performance of which the existence of every man ought to be devotel, consists of two branches: first, to produce the intellectual improvement of his own individual mind and character; and, secondly, to produce the improvement of the minds of other rational beings.'p.9.
The philosophers and the poets have made happiness ‘our being's end and aim:' but this opinion is shown to be erroneous by the universal history of mankind, which proves that all who have pursued this fleeting object have failed in their attempts and by an attentive observation of the world, which shows that its contriver and author never intended that we should enjoy happiness in it. The latter position is proved by a variety of questions on the cold of the polar regions; the heat of the torrid zone; the immense deserts, rugged mountains, stormy oceans, which occupy so large a portion of the earth; and the poisonous plants, the savage beasts, the wars, the massacres, and the endless variety of diseases, which bring so much calamity upon human life. We may here observe, that the author seems particularly anxious not to derive any support from holy writ; though in this assertion of his he is merely developing one of the first lessons that we receive from the Bible. These tell us, that man was formed to subdue and people this earth; and that, failing in his duty to his maker, he became subject to labour, misery, pain, and death. We are the heirs of our first parent, subject to his destiny, passing through a world in which happiness cannot be found, and looking for it only in that state which receives us at the end of our labours. The ultimate object of man's pursuit is also described in scripture, but with greater emphasis than by our author, to be the improvement of our own character as individuals, and the endeavour to produce the same excellence in others. The wisdom of the serpent and the innocence of the dove, are qualities peculiarly marked out for true christian ambition.
As the improvement of our intellectual nature is made the great object of pursuit, it is necessary to establish in what it
consists: and the energies of the human frame are divided into two kinds, voluntary and involuntary. The involuntary are engaged in performing the animal functions of our frame; the voluntary in moving our bodies, in judging, in resisting pain and pleasure. Intellectual excellence consists in a capacity to think or to judge clearly, and in a capacity to act vigorously: the former quality is known by the name of wisdom, the latter by that of fortitude. Hence virtue, on which authors so much differ, is confined in this work to intellectual excellence; and an action is virtuous when it is productive of this excellence. In the division of moral duties, that which is generally and with great propriety used by christians is adopted; namely, the duties to ourselves, to God, and to society.
In treating of man's private duties, the nature of the human understanding and its subordinate faculties is first examined; and the hypothesis of various faculties, such as judgment, imagination, taste, moral perception and abstraction, all being rejected, three powers are said to exist in it,-sensation, memory and understanding. These are treated nearly in the same manner as by Mr. Locke: but sensation and memory are considered as subordinate faculties, because perfection of mind does not consist in their boundless improvement, and because the possession of them in their most perfect state is by no means necessary to the possession of an excellent intellectual character.'
The imagination is considered as an exertion of the understanding, but not a creative faculty; being merely a power of arrangement producing nothing new, and altogether dependant upon memory for the simple ideas or materials upon which it works.' The duty of regulating this exertion, and also of cultivating such a talent, is very forcibly and properly impressed; and the precept on the former topic deserves attention:
"To regulate well the wanderings of imagination is also an impor tant part of our duty. To build what are called castles in the air, or visionary fabrics of felicity, is often a favorite amusement of the young and the happy. But much time is thus uselessly consumed, and a disgust is often acquired for the serious and humble occupations of real life. The best security against these evils, as well as against the melancholy images of calamity and care which sometimes take possession of the memory, and unhinge the voluntary power or self-command of the mind, consists of cultivating the understanding in a high degree, and of learning to act upon the maxims of sound wisdom. He who is fully satisfied that there is nothing truly valuable but a discerning and vigorous mind, and that there is nothing truly unfortunate but error and weakness, will not be apt to lose his self-command, by indulging in dreams either of pleasure or of misery. If at any time, however, a man of sense shall per ceive that his understanding is in any degree led captive, it be
comes instantly his duty to seek the obvious remedy for so serious an evil. This remedy consists of diversified and active occupation, by which the attention is turned to new objects, and the memory is enabled to present various images to the mind.' P. 100.
In discussing the nature of arrangement, the formation of language is introduced, with many judicious remarks on its structure: after which follows the investigation of taste; in which is examined the nature of the sublime and beautiful, the novel, and the ridiculous.
New and unexpected appearances are observed with pleasure, because they rouse the mind, or excite attention in a high degree, and all activity is pleasing. In the pursuit of truth, what is new must please; for this additional reason, that it brings along with it a consciousness of increasing intelligence.
'An object is ridiculous when it exhibits an unexpected and obviously absurd combination of things or ideas. Such combinations please by their unexpectedness, and by the self-applause which the spectator feels when he perceives something to which he accounts himself superior. Hence in polite society nobody laughs, nor is laughed at, on account of the assumption of superiority which is always implied on the part of those who laugh.' P. 152.
Polite society loses much in the improvement of intellect by thus depriving itself of the use of the risible faculties. In China all polite company of the female sex have their feet cramped in their infancy, that they may not seem to stand in need; like their inferiors, of these limbs; and the reservedness of high life in Europe may arise from the almost equal ab surdity of cramping the faculties. The greatest pleasure we ever saw a human being enjoy was in a young child, who after considerable efforts had learned to spell a word not as a task, but merely from its own desire to do it. The consciousness of its victory was expressed by bursts of laughter; and where a combination of ideas is made calculated to affect the risible faculties, there seems to be no merit in suppressing the emotions of nature.
The lovers of the fine arts will not be inclined to agree with the author on the place, which he assigns to them; yet, as the cultivation of them depends very little upon intellect, they cannot deserve a high rank in improved society. The use of the fine arts, according to our author, is this:
'When men are altogether barbarous and ignorant, it is of much importance to prevail with them to exert their faculties with regard even to the most trifling objects. A marvellous tale told them in asong produces this effect. All the efforts of the fine arts are addressed to the passions. It is necessary they should be so, to excite the attention of barbarians. They have only an indirect tendency, therefore, to render mankind rational. They foster and sooth the pas
sions of love, ambition, and vanity; but they also teach men to admire skill and ability, and to take delight in something else than war, gaming, gluttony, and idleness, which are the vices of all savages. As succeeding artists improve upon each other, their countrymen become more discerning and skilful, till at last a great proportion of mankind learn to take delight in the exertion of thought, and in the pursuits of literature and of knowledge. When this ob ject is accomplished, the fine arts have done their duty; and an im portant duty it is, secing they are the means of alluring the human race to the pursuit of intellectual improvement. In themselves, however, and without regard to this object, they are of little real value; for a man is not a more excellent being when his ears are tickled by music than when he hears it not; and we derive no greater improvement from an important truth, when it is conveyed to us in rhyme, than when it is conveyed in prose. To be a good judge of painting or of music, a man must no doubt possess a certain degree of intellect; but this degree is so moderate, and is capable of being acquired in so many other ways in a literary age, that the production of it, by means of these arts, affords no adequate reward for their laborious cultivation.
I cannot help observing that, in the history of mankind, superstition and the fine arts go hand in hand, and mutually sup port each other. The poetry, painting, music, and architecture, of the Greeks and Romans were chiefly employed in the service of the popular mythology or idolatrous religion of these nations; and it was by the liberality of superstitious devotees that these arts were supported. In the same manner, the superstition of the church of Rome was the chief support of the fine arts in Europe. But it is the nature of these arts to undermine, like the ivy, the fabric to which they cling. By gradually instructing the human race to exercise their powers of reflection, they taught men to despise a degrading superstition; and at the same time to engage in the investigation of truth and of nature, which supersedes the de. sire of the exhibition of human art. The church of Rome has fallen, or is falling, because the very arts which it supported, and by which it was for a time upheld, taught men to exert their reason, and to press forward to that science which is more valuable than it or them. These arts will decline in Europe along with the superstitious establishment, whose patronage supported their splendour. But the example of Scotland, and of other protestant Countries, shews that, if literature is generally cultivated, the intellectual interests of mankind will suffer nothing by the loss.' P. 160.
If there are dangers attending the cultivation of taste, the path of science is made by prejudices intricate and rugged; and the causes of error are investigated with great judgment and precision. A very common error is properly noticed in this part of the work, against which it becomes us particularly in this country to be on our guard; for, according to the party to which an individual belongs, whether in religion or politics, it is too much the prescribed mode to adhere only to one