« ZurückWeiter »
JAVING propofed to write some pieces on Human
Life and Manners, such as (to use my Lord Bab con's 'expression) come home to Men's Business and Bofonit, I thought it more satisfactory: to begin with conlidering Man in the abstract, his Nature and his State: fince, to prove any moral duty, to enforce any moral precept, or to examine the perfection ort imperfection of any creature whatsoever, it is necessary firł to know what condition and relation it is placed in, and what is the proper end and purpose of ita being.
The science of Haman: Nature isi like all other sciences, reduced to a fer clear points, there are not many certain truths in this world. It is therefore in the anatomy of the Mind as in that of the Body: more good will accrue to mankind by attending to the large, open, and perceptible parts, than by studying too much finer nerves and vessels, the confirmations and uses of which will for ever escape our observation. The disputes are all upon these last, and I will venture to say, they have less sharpened the wits than the hearts of men against each other, and have diminished the practice more than advanced the theory of morality. If I could fatter mysel that this Essay has any merít, it is in steering betwixt the extremes of doctrines seemingly, opposite; in passing over terms utterly unintelligible; and in forming a tempe rate, yet not inconsistent; and a foort, yet not imperfet system of Ethics.
This I might have done in prose ; but I chose verse and even rhyme, for two reasons: the one will appea obvious"; that principles, maxims, or precepts so written both strike the reader more strongly at first, and are more easily retained by him afterwards. The other may
feen odd, but it is true; I found I could express them mor
Joorte Mortly this way than in prose itself, and nothing is truer than that much of the force, as well as grace,
arguments or instructions depend upon their conciseness. I was unable to treat this part of my subject more in detail, without becoming dry and tedious; or more poetically, without facrificing perfpicuity to ornament, without wandering from the precision, or breaking the chain of reasoning. If any man can unite all these, without di. minution of any of them, I freely confess he will compass a thing above my capacity.
What is now published, is only to be considered as a general map of Man, marking ont no more than the greater parts, their extent, their limits, and their connexion, but leaving the particular to be more fully delineated in the charts which are to follow. Consequently these Epistles in their progress (if I make any progress) will be less dry, and more susceptible of poetical ornament. I ain here only opening the fountains, and clearing the passage: to deduce the rivers, to follow them in their course, and to observe their effects, would be a talk more agreeable.
creature, and of all creatures to Man. The gradation
son alone countervails all the other faculties, ver. 207.
whole connected creation must be destroyed, ver. 233
vér. 281, &c. to the end
The two Principles of Man, Self-love and Reafon, both
ver. 53, &c,
ver, 67, &c.
ver. 81, &c.
ver. 93, &c.
How usefully these are diftributed to all Orders of Men,
ver. 241, &c.
· ver, 249, &c.
state, and every age of life, ver. 271, &c.
The happiness of Animals mutual,
Origin of Superstition and Tyranny, from the same Prin.
ver. 237, &c.
Various forms of each, and the true end of all,
ver. 303, &c.