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portrait of a single class of men, who, from very obvious causes, are the most vicious and depraved of men ? Considered as the picture of man, is it not a horrid and disgustful one? And yet, as history appears to treat of man in every age and nation, is it not by many considered to be the picture of human na-, ture? Can this fail to have the most malignant effect, to break down the human mind, and reconcile it to vice, as being in the order and course of human nature? Irritated by these passions, which introduce vice at all, man is corrupted beyond redemption by what he conceives to be general example; for, it is in the manner of general ill example that history acts upon the mind of the reader. Those who from their introduction on the stage presume, that they are destined to be the privileged managers of the human drama, read the story of their predecessors; the part which they have acted they receive as the part which themselves are to act; the tempting allurements of wealth and power and grandeur spread their charms before them;
the delicate question of right and wrong hardly occurs to them, or with not sufficient power to turn them from their course; theirs it is to command, of the multitude to obey; and hence the constant repetition of the same crimes, a kind of hereditary succession of injustice, violence, fraud, broken faith, cruelty, and all the ill-fettered progeny of widewasting ambition. History is more a change of names, than of action and character, and what in her record is favourable to the general welfare of man, is rarely to be ascribed to the efforts, or even to the concurrence of the great actors; but to the operation of seemingly fortuitous circumstances, to the general impulse of the neglected many, to the reaction against crime itself, when pushed to an extreme beyond human bearance, and what is the most true, though the least acknowledged, to the counteraction of a being behind the curtain, who diverts the counsels of a wicked policy to an end, which is the most remote from the thoughts, and the most remote from the wish of the proud actors.
The revival of letters and arts, the deliverance of man from the most abject and oppressive slavery, that of Papal Rome, was not owing to the great men of the day, but to obscure individuals, whom, but for the magnitude of the events, history would not have noticed. But these splendid reverses succeeded to a dark and dismal gloom of more than twelve hundred years; and in spite of all their benign influence, the same fell ambition, which sweeps before it in one general ruin letters, and arts, and humanity, still goes on; and the fate of Europe, I may say of the world, depends at this moment on the resistance of one gallant, enlightened, and comparatively virtuous nation; in one awful struggle it is soon to be decided, whether man shall not be driven back by the wild spirit of conquest to the same debased and horrid state, from which he was happily redeemed.
ON NATURAL AND MORAL PHILOSOPHY, AND
THE PROPER MANNER OF PHILOSOPHIZING IN
In the works of a powerful, wise, and designing artist, whoever this artist be, we expect a similarity of general plan ; that there be in each an end, and a respectable end in view ; that the means be adapted to the end; that there be neither superfluity nor defect -of.
means; that the means be simple, but extensive in their operation; and that the manher of executing one work, and producing the end contemplated therein, do not deviate from the manner in another, more than the nature of the subject requires.
Thus, if the universe, of which ourselves are a part, be referred to a powerful, wise, and designing author; and if it be not, it is, though the most astonishing of all produc