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if he thought as he wrote, that a mania had possessed man froin a very early period, and that in his day this mania had risen to its greatest height. It was well that the question did not come to issue between him and, the world, for the world would assuredly have out-voted him. Rousseau is however entitled to a philosophic and argumentative reply.
In the first part of that discourse Rousseau objects to knowledge, that it is the
parent of that external civility and politeness, by which the foundations of candour and plain dealing are undermined, and fellow-intercourse becomes constrained and disguised. Before art, says he, had fashioned our manners, imposed concealment on our passions, and taught us to speak a borrowed language, our behaviour, though rustic, was natural. He admits that human nature, at the bottom, might not perhaps be better, but he asserts that men derived security from bem ing able to read each other's thoughts, and that this advantage, of which we now know
not the value, preserved them from many vices. To this part of his charge the present essay is confined.
In answer to this charge, it is asserted that external civility and politeness are not the offspring of learning or knowledge, but claim other
parents; that disguise, borrowed looks and language, and false exhibitions of the heart, are not peculiar to any period or state of man; that sincerity and honesty are not irreconcileable with politeness ; and that whatever of evil can be charged to the account of politeness, is amply compensated by the real good which it produces.
Politeness may, certainly associate with learning, and may be separate from it; but their first origin is in the good-will and sympathy of man, in the desire of being agreeable in the form as well as in the substance of our fellow-intercourse.
This is so obvious, that it is impossible to discover any special connection of cause and effect between a learned mind and a polite mind. A learned
man, without a
kind and sympathetic heart, without a desire to please, may be as blunt a rustic as Rousseau can contemplate in his golden age of simplicity. Learning is very far from being the character of the polite world, and politeness in a still less degree is the character of the learned world. The weakest
persons, to whom literature has not opened her very door, may lead in the dance of fashionable politeness. They are perfectly innocent,, poor creatures! of the horrid crime of learning; but they are the arraigned before Rousseau's tribunal, they are the convicts of unmeaning profession, of prostituted language, and of all the idle waste of words. Observe the learned man! He may possibly be po
be courteous in his address, in his speech, in all his manners : but he has not learnt this from his books; he has acquired it from an habitual commerce with the dressed and fashionable world. Such an union of attainments is however a rare spectacle ; for, learning abstracted from other circumstances has a contrary tendency, and
the world is so persuaded of this, that it expresses something like astonishment, if in the acknowledged scholar or philosopher it find the polite man. The love of retirement and even of solitude, as conducive to the pursuits of learned men; the little attraction which they feel for the lighter amusements of life, the straws in their estimation which float upon
its surface; the little attention which they have bestowed in order to acquit themselves with propriety and grace ; the disgust which is excited in them by the trifling conversation and important nothings of men of the world, render what is called good company as unfit for a philosopher as a philosopher is for good company. What a figure does he often exhibit in a gay and brilliant circle, with his solemn air, his stiffened attitudes, his unmanaged limbs, his absorbed mind, 'his inattentions, his constrained recollections, his studied expressions, his deep and sententious discourse ! He is an object of ridicule to the circle around him; but he knows to estimate
himself, and he returns the contempt with which he is received. He feels that he is not on his proper ground; no common sympathy attaches him to his company, nor his company to him ; each are under restraint ; but a modesty yet unsubdued in him subjects him to truly painful feelings, while a happy confidence which the polish of the world often confers, administers to the company the enjoyment of a secret triumph. He retires from the scene without regret, and his absence excites no regret in those whom he has quitted. A few reflections on the strange interview for-a while occupy the thoughts of either party. The one laments the littlenesses and follies of which he has been a witness, the others laugh at the awkward mortal for his oddities and unaccommodating wisdom: while the fruit of these reflections differs in each as much as the reflections themselves. The one are strengthened in the persuasion that the accomplishments of politeness are the finishing of the human character, and with G3