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dies, is of very remote antiquity, and has been applied with considerable accuracy by nations of no scientific character, and but in a moderate degree removed from barbarism. If a simple elementary language, wherein from a few characters infinite combinations are formed, be a necessary instrument to the progress of science, the Chinese can have no pretensions to the character of a learned nation, although for no other reasons this attribute should be refused to them. For as language is the vehicle of ideas, how slow must be the progress of literary improvement, where only to know the language itself requires the application of a whole life. Yet on the first visit of the Europeans the Chinese were found to be possessed of the elements of almost all the arts, those very elements, which under the culture of the more ardent European have so exalted him amongst men. The same may
be observed of the Mexicans and Peruvians, · who had no form of written language whatever. The date of their empires was indeed comparatively of yesterday, but at the period of their highest improvement they could support no claim to the character of learned nations. Yet many of their productions of art, magnificence and taste, were objects of admiration to the more improved European. The practical principles of chemistry have been known, and successively acted on, by many of the rudest and most ignorant nations of the earth, and the communication of some of their processes would be a valuable acquisition to the European artist of the present day. Indeed, without disparagement to the present state of scientific improvement, it must be acknowledged that the valuable arts of mechanics and chemistry have been indebted for discoveries of high estimation to rude and unlettered practitioners, which had eluded all the penetration of the theoretic artist. The fact appears to be, that mere accidental observation, excited by the continually working hand of nature, and agreeably to those eternal laws which go vern her operations, has revealed to man,
in every state and condition, the fundamental principles of all the arts; that they are thus brought home to his very feelings , and that, the discovery being made, the necessities and interests of man seize the discovery, and apply it to his use. Man, in a state of literary culture, digests these experimental discoveries, compares them, reasons upon them, and reduces them into an orderly and harmonious system, which is without doubt of great assistance, in applying the practice of the arts to progressive improvement and utility. Sensible of this truth, the ingenious theorist will acknow. ledge that the arts, in the whole extent of their subservience to the use of man, have derived their richest treasures from the discoveries and operations of rude and unlearned men.
· Rousseau therefore fails in every view in which it can be attempted to fix the odium of luxury and its concomitant vices upon learning. There is no necessary connection between the arts and luxury; and the arts,
in what degree they may be required to minister to luxury, ask little, very little, aid from learning.
Perhaps Rousseau had no view to honest truth in this celebrated essay, but by a bold singularity to raise himself into general notice. Had truth been his object, he could not have avoided to observe, what must strike the common mind, that the appetites and tastes of men are the parents of luxury, and that wealth, or a supply of what wealth purchases, is the nurse of luxury. Whereever or whenever these two are found to be coexistent, luxury in a greater or less degree will be found to exist also. These may be co-existent, and to any extent, and have so existed, without any thing of what answers to the scientific arts of modern Europe.
SEQUEL TO THE DEFENCE OF LEARNING AND
THE ARTS, AGAINST SOME CHARGES OF ROUSSEAU.
In my former observations on the celebrated Essay of Rousseau, I was aware that I had not adverted to all the accusations which he had brought against literature, science, and the arts; but diffident of myself, whether I should ever resume the subject, I took no notice at the time of the omission. The fic has however returned upon me, and with the good pleasure of the Society, I present to them my reply to his remaining charges against those productions of the human mind, which, unless by Rousseau, have been held in the highest estimation.
To those crimes of which poor literature is accused by him, and to which I have already replied, this farther charge is added;