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Some philofophers have been foolish enough to imagine, that improvements might be made in the system of the universe, by a different arrangement os the orbs of heaven; and politicians, equally ignorant and equally presumptuous, may easily be led to suppofe, that the happiness of our world would be promoted by a different tendency of the human mind. It appears, indeed, to a flight and superficial observer, that many things impracticable in our present state, might be easily effected, is mankind were better dispofed to union and co-operation: but a little reflection will discover, that is consederacies were easily formed, they would lofe their efficacy, since numbers would be oppofed to numbers, and unanimity to unanimity; and instead of the present petty competitions of individuals or single families, multitudes would be supplanting multitudes, and thoufands plotting against thoufands.
There is no class of the human species, of which the union seems to have been more expected, than of the learned: the rest of the world have almost always agreed to fhut scholars up together in colleges and cloisters; surely not without hope, that they would look for that happiness in concord, which they were debarred from finding in variety; and that such conjunctions of intellect would recompense the munificence of sounders and patrons, by persormances above the reach of any single mind.
But discord, who found means to roll her apple into the banqueting chamber of the goddesses, has had the address to scatter her laurels in the seminaries of learning. The friendship of students and of beautics is for the most part equally sincere, and equally t durable: durable: as both depend for happiness on the regard of others, on that of which the value arises merely from comparison, they are both expofed to perpetual jealousies, and both incessantly employed in schemes to intercept the praises of each other.
I am, however, far from intending to inculcate, that this confinement of the studious to studious companions, has been wholly without advantage to the public: neighbourhood, where it does not conciliate friendship, incites competition; and he that would contentedly rest in a lower degree of excellence, where he had no rival to dread, will be urged by his impatience of inseriority to incessant endeavours After great attainments.
These stimulations of honest rivalry are, perhaps, the chief effects of academies and societies; for whattVtfr be the bulk of their j8iht labours, every single piece is always the production of an individual, that ewes nothing to his colleagues but the contagion of diligence, a resolution to write, because the rest are writing* and the scorn of obscurity while the rest are illustrious.
H E N Ari/fotle was once afked, what a man could gain by uttering falfehoods; he replied, « Not to be credited when he fhall tell the « « truth.**
The charaéter of a liar is at once fo hateful and contemptible, that even of thofe who have loft their virtue it might be expeéted, that from the violation of truth they fhould be reftrained by their pride. Almoft every other vice that difgraces human nature, niay be kept in countenance by applaufe and affociation : the corrupter of virgin innocence fees himfeif envied by the men, and at lea[t not detcfted by the women : the drunkard may eafily unite with beings, devoted like himfelfto noify merriments or fìlent infenfibility, who will celebrate his viétories over the novices of intemperance, boaft themfelves the companions of his prowef$, and tell with rapture of the multitudes whom unfuccefsful emulation has hurried to the grave: even the robber and the cutthroat have their followers, who admire their addrefs and intrepidity, their ftratagems of rapine, and their
fidelity to the gang. The
The liar, and only the liar, is invariably and univerfally defpifed, abandoned, and difowned: he has no domeftic confolations, which he can oppofe to the cenfure of mankind ; he can retire to no fraternity, where his crimes may ftand in the place of virtues; but is given up to the hiffes of the multitude, without friend and without apologift. It is the peculiar condition of falfehood, to be equally detefted by the good and bad: ** The devils,'* fays Sir Thomas Browm, ** do not tell lies to one another; ** for truth is neceffary to all focieties: nor can the ** fociety of hell fubfift without it.”
It is natural to expe&l, that a crime thus generally detefted fhould be generally avoided; at leaft, that none fhould expofe himfelfto unabated and unpitied infamy, without an adequate temptation ; and that to guilt fo eafily deteéted, and fo feverely punifhed, an adequate temptation would not readily be found.
Yet fo it is, that in defiance of cenfure and contempt, truth is frequently violated; and fcarcely the moft vigilant and unremitted circumfpeétion will fecure him that mixes with mankind, from being hourly deceived by men of whom it can fcarcely be imagined, that they mean any injury to him or profit to themfelves ; even where the fubjeét of converfation could not have been expe&ted to put the paffions in motion, or to have excited either hope or fear, or zeal or malignity, fufficient to induce any man to put his reputation in hazard, however little he might value it, or to overpower the love of truth, however weak might be its influence.
The cafuifts have very diligently diftinguifhed lies
into their feveral claffes, according to their various C 3 degrces
degrees of malignity: but they have, I think, generally omitted that which is molt common, and, perhaps, not least mischievous; which, fince the moralists have not given it a name, I shall distinguish as the lie of vanity.
To vanity may justly be imputed most of the falsehoods, which every man perceives hourly playing upon his ear, and, perhaps, most of those that arc propagated with success. To the lie of commerce, and the lie of malice, the motive is so apparent, that they are seldom negligently or implicitly received: suspicion is always watchful over the practices of interest; and whatever the hope of gain, or desire of mischief, can prompt one man to assert, another is by reasons equally cogent incited to refute. But vanity pleases herself with such flight gratifications, and looks forward to pleasure so remotely consequential, that her practices raise no alarm, and her stratagems are not easily discovered.
Vanity is, indeed, often suffered to pass unpursued by suspicion, because he that would watch her morons, can never be ar reft: fraud and malice are bounded in their influence; some opportunity of tune and place is necessary to their agency; but scarce any roan is abstracted one moment from his vanity; and he, to whom truth affords no gratifications, is generally inclined to seek them in falsehoods.
It is remarked by Sir Ktnelm Digby, "that every "man has a desire to appear superior to others, *' though it were only in having seen what they have "not seen." Such an accidental advantage,, since it neither implies merit, nor confers dignity, one c would