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While the citizen reveres the institutions and the laws of his coun- PART II. CHAP. I. try, while he rejoices in its profperity, and laments the calamity or SECT. II. distress which befals it, he is often made to forget himself, and to facrifice his own intereft or fafety as an individual, to that of the community in which he is included. Interest is frequently supposed to be the ruling passion of mankind; yet this facrifice of interest and of life, to the objects of public affection, is frequently made; and, under national establishments that are happily conftituted, is not above the reach of ordinary men.
The general tendency of benevolence, like that of the animal propenfities, is to preserve the human race, and to render man useful to his fellow creatures; but, while the selfish principles operate to the preservation of the whole, by preferving or confulting the safety of individuals apart, benevolence forms a general band of connection, and is at once a common fource of enjoyment and pleasure to many. It renders the participation of other men, in the favours of providence, an occafion of fatisfaction and joy. While it seems to render the humane a fervant to the distressed; the affectionate devoted to the interest of his friend and his country; it renders this fervice, and this devotion alfo, a principal fource of enjoyment to himself: differing from the gratifications to which any mere animal propenfity is competent, in being exempt from fatiety, and in being fitted, by occupying indefinite portions of time, to fill up the duration of human life, and to become not only the fpring of particular and occafional action, but the fource and constituent of felicity to those who act. So much that, in the course of a fociable and beneficent life, and in the offices of private friendship, or of public station, a perfon may occupy with fatisfaction every moment that can be fpared from the neceffities of his own condition.
But, over and above the pleasurable or painful ftate of our feelings, which arise from the proper or improper discharge of our animal functions; from the purpose to which we employ our faculties, and the manner in which we are affected towards our fellow-creatures; thefe very circumftances become, by reflection, the fource of additional enjoyment or fuffering. Consciousness of propriety, in the conduct of our natural propenfities; attainments of knowledge, or intellectual ability; integrity, candour, and good-will to our fellow-creatures, are fources of the purest satisfaction and pleasure. The consciousness of brutality, folly, cowardice, malice, or guilt, on the contrary, is conftituent of extreme fuffering, in the feelings of fhame, and remorfe.
It is fupremely agreeable to perceive, in the works of nature, the marks or expreffions of wisdom and goodness, on which we may rely for the happy disposal of all things: And we may conclude, from the whole of these particulars, that the preferable pleasures of human life consist in sobriety, benignity of temper, or good will to mankind, and beneficent actions, with a perfect confidence in the wifdom and goodness of Providence.
The contemplation of beauty and excellence, in whatever subject, is matter of delight, and forms an agreeable state of the mind. The obtrufion of uglinefs or defect is of a contrary nature: And thefe are fources of enjoyment and fuffering peculiar to man. He alone, among the living natures known to us, appears fenfible to the distinctions of beauty and deformity, of excellence or defect; and he alone, for ought we know, apprehends any gradation of worth in the fcale of being. He alone applies the canons of excellence and defect, of merit and demerit, to himfelf, and to his fellow-creatures; finding a most agreeable state of his mind in
the consciousness of integrity and justice, or the most painful PART II. and distreffing reflections in the consciousness of wickednefs, de- CHAP. I. basement, and folly. Complacency and peace of confcience are expreffions of the one; fhame, remorse, and despair, are expreffions of the other.
The fool may enjoy his folly, and the madman may enjoy his frenzy; but no one will congratulate the perfons who are so affected with pleasure. The enjoyments of human nature require the warrants of reason and truth; and no perfon, in his fenfes, can be reconciled to a ftate, in which he knows his own character to be marked with deformity, meannefs, or vice, nor think that he can be truly happy, in the absence of every good quality which can be required to adorn or perfect his nature.
The foundations of a pleasure, fo effential to happiness, merit a feparate confideration in the following fections.
Of Beauty and Deformity, Excellence and Defect.
IN the rational nature of man, there are principles which do not terminate merely in fenfibility to pleasure and pain, or in mere active exertions; but confist in a kind of cenforial inspection, over the general tenor of enjoyments and actions; ferving to distinguifh, among pleasures, the elegant and beautiful from the inelegant and deformed; and, among specimens of existence, the perfect or excellent, from the defective or imperfect. Such is the discriminating power of intelligence, by which the qualities of things are estimated; by which unequal measures of worth are conceived, and the gradations of excellence affigned in the scale of being.
In the exercise of these reflex and cenforial powers, there is great enjoyment and fuffering, according as the objects of them are happily or miserably distributed to ourselves or others. Dif guft, indignation, remorse, and shame, are among the pains of which
which they render us fufceptible; delight, efteem, approbation, PART II. confidence, love, and peace of mind and of confcience, are among their gratifications, or happy effects.
In the difcernment of external objects, there arifes a fentiment, which may be expressed in terms of praise or blame, of estimation or contempt; and which frequently conftitutes, or fenfibly modifies, the general affection of the mind, in refpect to the diftinction of good and evil; for, as good is pleasant, so, also in many inftances, is it estimable: As evil is painful, so also is it, in many instances, vile and contemptible.
Of these sentiments, the specific occafions or objects are termed beauty and deformity, excellence and defect.
To perceive beauty or excellence, is to admire or esteem: And, least these expreffions, which are applicable to fubjects of the highest nature, fhould appear too strong, when applied to matters of inferior confideration, in which fome degree of beauty nevertheless may be admitted; let it be remembered, that it is the species of fentiment, not any measure of the emotion, or degree of merit in its object, which we are now about to consider.
Admiration and efteem, like benevolence and love, are agreeable fentiments; fo much, that, to admire or esteem and to be pleased with an object, are expreffions often mutually substituted one for the other.
We are pleased with beauty and excellence; we are displeased with deformity and defect: But all that pleases is not beautiful or excellent; nor all that displeases, deformed or defective. We