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But I weaken Milton; his poem, from the beginning to the end, is a sublime sermon, a discourse of the Almighty in a language of fire, a sacred enthusiasm ! His countrymen begun to read it in the reign of Charles the second ; and in this reign, more than in any other, the allurements of riches, luxury, and debauchery, made England forget both the fall and the punishment of man. But it is not one nation only that is interested in this poem ; it relates to the most important interest of all nations. Accordingly, all Europe reads Paradise loft: It strikes, it astonishes, but does it reform? alas, no!'
Our author now proceeds to consider what influence the dra. matic writers, and the satirists of ancient and modern times, have had upon the morals of mankind.
He shews, in a sprightly and agreeable manner, that mens whether they cry or laugh, still continue the same ; that laws are not better obeyed, social virtues more practised, juftice more respected, or faith better kept. History too, which is more natural, more simple than poetry, though it has always endeavoured to correct the manners of mankind by facts and reflec'tions arising from them, has, he observes, never attained its end; whilst it continues to relate the calamities that cover the earth, it fhews the inefficacy of its own efforts.
• If the force of instruction, continues he, could produce good morals, this glory, next to the preaching of the gospel, Thould seem to be peculiarly reserved for philosophy. The phi. losopher, in order to establish morality, neither borrows the bitterness of satire, nor the enchantment of the theatre ; neither the thunder of eloquence, nor the fublime of inspiration. He disdains to make use of any instrument of furprise; he confines himself to the simplicity of reason ; he opens before us the book of nature, which speaks an intelligible language to every understanding; he looks for the foundation of morality in the constitution of things; he supposes nothing, but proves every thing. Is an action hurtful to society ? it is bad, and he proscribes it. Is it beneficial to society? it is good, and he recommends it. Thus it is that he lays the line, and ascertains the boundaries between vice and viriue. He allows us the use of all the gifts of 'nature, and only defires us not to abuse them: he means not to form a man without passions, but a worthy man with palLions.'
* Does he speak of God? He takes care not to represent him as an arbitrary law-giver, who commands or forbids, without any other motive but that of being obeyed. He does not say, honour and love your father and mother, because God commands it; but he says, God commands it, because, if you refuse to hearken to this first call of nature, there is no other being whom you will honour, none whom you will love. He does not say abstain from violence, because God forbids it ; but he says, God forbids it, because with it, towns and countries would soon become an immenfe theatre of confusion, horror, and blood. He teaches us, after Cicero, that law is not a human invention, but the expreffion of that universal reason which governs the world ; that, like it, it is eternal and unchange. able; that it does not vary according to times and places; that what it commanded or forbid in the beginning of the world, it still commands or forbids to every nation on earth ; and after having fixed the boundaries between vice and virtue, far from seeing in the Deity an implacable judge, the philolopher sees in him a father, who never punishes, but in order to reform.'
Now this sublime, this simple philosophy, this torch of reason herself, which, after being extinguished in Greece, was lighted up again in Italy, in England, and in France, and has spread knowledge to the remotest boundaries of the north, what effects has it produced upon morals ? It has happily banished some barbarous prejudices. Wills are no longer void, which bequeath nothing to the church. Churches no longer serve as fanctuaries for assassins; we no longer believe that Rome can absolve subjects from the oath of allegiance to their sovereign. . We shall. never go again to ruin our families and cut one anothers throats in Palestine. Witches are not committed to the flames, and: at the last Auto-da-fe in Lisbon, no human being was sacrificed; &c. &c.'
Thefe maladies of the mind, and some others of the fame kind, which are the offspring of ignorance, philosophy has cured ; but all the vices which can infect enlighiened nations still subfift; and their poison, as it circulates through all ranks ,and conditions of men, from the cottage to the court, is still height." ened in proportion as it ascends. The Stoic philosophy, in its greatest efforts, produced indeed some good emperors, Trajan, Nerva, Adrian, the two Antonines, and some individuals in every order of the state ; but it had no effect upon the multitude. With more light and knowledge than it was then poftersed of, it labours still with as much ardour as ever to make profelytes; but this flower of the human species will only make a very puny republic.
• It appears plainly, therefore, from the records of all ages, that preaching, under whatever form it is considered, whether in the lessons of philosophers, in the examples of history, the enthusiasm of poets, the oracles of the gospel, the precepts of the synagogue, the inspiration of prophets, the zeal of patriarchs, has never formed, and never can form a virtuous people. Who then, it will be asked, is the true preacher? I anfwer Government. But it is not enough to affirm this, I must prove it.
Our author, who is now come to the principal point he has in view, goes on to observe, that as the centripetal and centrifugal forces regulate the physical world, so there are two Springs in the power of government, which are capable of regulating the moral world, at least fo far as regularity is compatible with liberty. The one keeps us at a distance from vice; to wit, punifhmient; the other excites us to virtue, i. e, reward.
He endeavours to confirm and illustrate this by examples taken from ancient and modern history; and though some of the examples which he produces will, no doubt, be objected to, yet the greatest part of them are extremely pertinent, and shew that he is well acquainted with the policy of ancient and modern times : he seems perfectly sensible of the difficulties that attend all schemes of reformation, and that fine fpeculations upon this subject are often like those mechanical inventions, which play perfectly well in the model, but fail in the execution. Ac: cordingly he writes with a becoming degree of modesty and diffidence. After shewing, in several instances, the effects which rewards and punishments have had, and still have, upon the manners of mankind, he proceeds to give a sketch of a plan of yeformation for a great city:
• Let us suppose then, says he, a city as large as Paris, and as corrupt as Sybaris ; that luxury prevails in it; that the frivoIpus arts are in the highest esteem, and the useful ones. in contempt; that a varnisher, a toy-man, or a dancing master, gets more in one day, than all the labourers of a province in a month; that modesty is banished from it; that young women only wish for husbands, in order to have a cloak for licentioufnels; that the faith of marriages is cpenly violated by both sexes; that virtuous wives, if any such are to be found, mourn while curtezans triumph ; that debauchery poisons the very source of the human species; that old men retain the vices of youth, and that young men are old in constitution, before they arrive at the years of maturity; that in this city there is al- ;
vays money enough for theatrical entertainments, table, and dress, none for the payments of debts, or the relief of the indigent; that public assemblies shine in silk, gold, and jewels, whilst the streets and temples are filled with beggars; that every one finds his account in the ruin of his neighbour ; that agrecable men are preferred to men of worth; that yice is a subject only for mirth and pleasantry; that a man may have even every vice that disgraces humanity, provided he can only be • witty upon himself; that all places are disposed of by favour or purchased by money; that the very right of judging and being judged is fold; that the public treasury is plúndered ; that the Sanctuary is polluted; that the great are mean, and that the vulgar, worthy of those above them, are a nursery of sogues,
thieves, and affaffines. What a city! what a capital ! I undertake, however, to give it morals, and if I succeed, the provinces, always less corrupt, will soon be reformed.
• I begin by strengthening paternal authority, the first and the moft sacred of all. It is derived from God; it governed before there were any kings ; it was the foundation and the model of the Chinese government for many ages, when the rest of the earth was at the mercy of tyrants ; Romulus, who perhaps Itretched it too far, placed it at the head of his laws; he allowed a father, not only to put his children in prison, to load them with chains, to order them to be publickly beaten with rods, to condemn them to labour, to difinherit them, but even to sell them or put them to death. I would give fathers all this power, excepting that of selling their children, and putting them to death. When we consider, that it is a father who punishes, there is little reason to be afraid of severity. Romulus perhaps extended the duration of paternal authority too far; it was exercised over children of whatever age or dignity. It may continue till the age of five and twenty. When a child has been properly trained till this time, if he is guilty of any irregularity afterwards, let him be subject to the laws.-A father, to whom such a power is committed, must not be surprised, if after the example of China, he is obliged to answer for the conduct of his children, under the pain of being punished for their crimes. The law supposes, that if the father had educated his son properly, the crime would not have been committed. And at the worst, the punishment of an innocent person, which is sometimes unavoidable under the best form of government, would prevent a hundred other fathers from being guilty.'
• My next step should be, to re-establish the authority of husbands. It is well known what this was in the days of the patriarchs. The great study of Sarah and Rachel was to please their husbands. This tender respect for the head of the family would have kept them in their duty, even if they had been void of virtue. The fair fex, throughout all the eaft, was long faithful to this falutary subordination, and those nations of the west, which gave any attention to morals, placed it among their institutions. Under the first laws of Rome, a wife that was guilty of any crime, had no other judge but her husband, who called her relations together, and, with them, fat in judgment upon her. It was owing to the wisdom of this law, that during several ages, there was no complaint against wives. before any of the tribunals; no action for adultery, no divorce.
- The Athenians had a particular magistrate who watched over the conduct of wives; the true magistrate, the magistrate of nature, is the husband. A philosopher of our tims, who is reproached with many paradoxes, has mixed some truth with
them them which we overlook : the fair sex, fays he, incapable of taking our manner of living, which is too laborious for them, obliges us to take theirs, which is too effeminate for us. This perversion of order, this ascendant of the fair sex, which is formed to be guided, begins in families, and extends itself to the public, which it corrupts. It is women who form the characters of men, Hence it is, that in what is called good company, we meet with so many agreeable and fo few virtuous persons.- A wife conItantly under the eye of a husband, who is her master, and who has power to punish her, would endeavour to gain his affections, by confining herself within her family; and then the education of children, domestic busine!s and oeconomy, harmony, &c. would flourish.'
• A third step should be, to encrease the authority of masters over their servants. It is very surprising that the Greeks and Romans, with so much knowledge and humanity, had Naves, like the barbarians, instead of domestics. It is still more surprising, perhaps, that Christian nations, with the Gospel before their eyes, should condemn their brethren in the colonies to all the horrors of flavery, because they are black. The first man, who said to another, you shall be my fave, for I am stronger than you;
must have had the heart of a tiger. But the first man, who faid to another ; I see you are poor, if you will receive your subsipence from me, you fall be my domestick, made a contract useful for both. But this contract, by a relaxation of domestick difciplinc, is become more grievous to masters than to servants, &c.
After pointing out a remedy for this evil, our author now proceeds to that part of his plan which relates to masters of families, the nobility, &c.; and here he is of opinion, that a number of cenfors should be appointed, under certain regulations. The institution of cenfors, he fays, has been of fingular service in every government, where virtue and good morals have been the principal objects.
• The plan, which I lay down, continues he, in order to facilitate the execution of it, presupposes a good public education; this fhall not be that of Emilius, which, were it practicable and unexceptionable, can only be a private one. Nor shall it be that which is established in our colleges, which is condemned by the voice of the public; it shall be that which arises from the ideas of Locke, Montaigne, Plutarch, Xenophon, and Plato; that, wherein things shall be taught before languages, which are often useless to those who learn them ; that, which inftead of being the same for all, shall have separate clafies according to the wants of the state, and by exercises appropriated to each class, shall form fit subjects for commerce, for jurisprudence, for war, for the church, for the arts, &.;