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the languages, or of the mathematics, because his pride is not wounded by an admission of his ignorance, as to those sciences to which he has never been introduced. But if you propose to teach him any thing new concerning himself, the world, and those who live in it, the case is widely altered. He finds that he has been conversant all his life with these things, suspects that here he knows at least as much as his master, becomes quite impatient of information, and often finishes by attempting to instruct his instructer. It is true that he has made very laudable use of his eyes, since his opera-glass has given him an insight into others, and his looking-glass has helped him to some knowledge of himself. His ears indeed have had a very easy time of it, but their inactivity has been dearly purchased, at the expense of his tongue; he feels, however, from his experience, that he has had the opportunities at least of observ ing, and he fancies from his vanity, that he has improved them. Can one (says he) be ignorant of those things that are so constantly and so closely around us, and about us; he that runs, he thinks, may read that lucid volume whose pages are days, whose characters are men. But too close a contiguity is as inimical to distinct vision, as too great a distance; and hence it happens that a man often knows the least of that which is most near to him-even his own heart; but if we are ignorant of ourselves, a knowledge of others is built upon the sand. On this subject, however, nothing is more easy than to talk plausibly, and few things more difficult than to write profoundly; thoroughly to suc
ceed, requires far more experience than I possess, or ever shall. I am, however, fully satisfied of the utility of a work similar to that in which I am engaged, and hope that what little encouragement I have met with, may stimulate those to attempt something better, who are deeply conversant, not only with the living, but with the dead--not only with books, but with men-not only with the hearts of others, but with their own. But the moral world will by no means repay our researches with such rich discoveries as the natural; yet where we cannot invent, we may at least improve; we may give somewhat of novelty to that which was old, condensatiou to that which was diffuse, perspicuity to that which was obscure, and currency to that which was recondite. A Hume may soar indeed somewhat higher than a Davy, but he will meet with more disappointments; with wings that could reach the clouds, but not with strength of pennon that could pierce them, Hume was at times as incomprehensible to himself, as invisible to others; lost in regions where he could not penetrate, nor wê pursue; for it is as rare for experiment to give us nothing but conjecture, as speculation to give us nothing but truth. In this walk of science, however, if we know but little, upon that little we are becoming gradually more agreed; perhaps we have discovered that the prize is not worth the contention. Hence there is a kind of alphabet of first principles, now established in the moral world, which is not very likely to be overturned by any new discoveries. But principles, however correct, may sometimes be
wrongly, and however true, may sometimes be falsely applied; and none are so likely to be so, as those that from having been found capable of effecting so much, are expected to perform all. An Indian has very few tools, and it is astonishing how much he accomplishes with them; but he sometimes fails; for although his instruments are of general, they are not of universal application. There are two principles, however, of established acceptance in morals; first, that self-interest is the main spring of all our actions, and secondly, that utility is the test of their value. Now there are some cases where these maxims are not tenable, because they are not true; for some of the noblest energies of gratitude, of affection, of courage, and of benevolence, are not resolvable into the first. If it be said, indeed, that these estimable qualities may, after all, be traced to self-interest, because, all the duties that flow from them are a source of the highest gratification to those that perform them, this I presume savours rather too much of an identical proposition, and is only a round-about mode of informing us that virtuous men will act virtuously. Take care of number one, says the worlding, and the Christian says so too; for he has taken the best care of number one, who takes care that number one shall go to heaven; that blessed place is full of those same selfish beings who, by having constantly done good to others, have as constantly gratified themselves. I humbly conceive, therefore, that it is much nearer the truth, to say that all men have an interest in being good, than that all men are good from interest. As to the stan
dard of utility, this is a mode of examining human actions, that looks too much to the event, for there are occasions where a man may effect the greatest general good, by the smallest individual sacrifice; and there are others where he may make the greatest individual sacrifice, and yet produce but little general good. If indeed the moral philosopher is determined to do all his work with the smallest possible quantity of tools, and would wish to cope with the natural philosopher, who has explained such wonders, from the two simple causes of impulse and of gravity, in this case he must look out for maxims as universal as those occasions to which he would apply them. Perhaps he might begin by affirming with me that men are the same, and this will naturally lead him to another conclusion, that if men are the same, they can have but one common principle of action, The attainment of apparent good; those two simple truisms contain the whole of my philosophy, and as they have not been worn out in the performance of one undertaking, I trust they will not fail me in the execution of another.