Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

SPAIN.

FROM the circumstances of her territorial possessions, of her resources, and the whole of her civil and political state, we may be authorized safely, and with undoubted confidence to affirm, that

Spain is not a substantive power :
That she must lean on France, or on England.

That it is as much for the interest of Great Britain to prevent the predominancy of a French interest in that kingdom, as if Spain were a province of the crown of Great Britain, or a state actually dependent on it; full as much so as ever Portugal was reputed to be. This is a dependency of much greater value: and its destruction, or its being carried to any other dependency, of much more serious misfortune.

SOCIAL INTEREST OF STATES.

That sort of interest belongs only to those, whose state of weakness or mediocrity is such, as to give them greater cause of apprehension from what may destroy them, than of hope from any thing by which they may be aggrandized.

STUDIES.

WHATEVER turns the soul inward on itself, tends to concentre its forces, and to fit it for greater and stronger flights of science. By looking into physical causes, our minds are opened and enlarged; and in this pursuit, whether we take or whether we lose our game, the chase is certainly of service. Cicero, true as he was to the academic philosophy, and consequently led to reject the certainty of physical, as of every other kind of knowledge, yet freely confesses its great importance to the human understanding; Est animorum ingeniorumque nostrorum naturale quoddam quasi pabulum consideratio contemplatioque naturæ.” If we can direct the lights we derive from such exalted speculations, upon the humbler field of the imagination, whilst we investigate the springs, and trace the courses of our passions, we may not only communicate to the taste a sort of philosophical solidity, but we may reflect back on the severer sciences some of the graces and elegancies of taste, without which the greatest proficiency in those sciences will always have the appearance of something illiberal.

The more accurately we search into the human mind, the stronger traces we every where find of his wisdom who made it. If a discourse on the use of the parts of the body may be considered as an hymn to the Creator; the use of the passions, which are the organs of the mind, cannot be barren of praise to him, nor unproductive to ourselves of that noble and uncommon union of science and admiration, which a contemplation of the works of infinite wisdom alone can afford to a rational mind; whilst, referring to him whatever we find of right or good or fair in ourselves, discovering his strength and wisdom even in our own weakness and imperfection, honouring them where we discover them clearly, and adoring their profundity where we are lost in our search, we may be inquisitive without impertinence, and elevated without pride; we may be admitted, if I may dare to say so, into the counsels of the Almighty by a consideration of his works. The elevation of the mind ought

[ocr errors]

to be the principal end of all our studies, which if they do not in some measure effect, they are of very little service to us.

STUDY OF THE LAW.

The law is, in my opinion, one of the first and noblest of human sciences; a science which does more to quicken and invigorate the understanding, than all the other kinds of learning put together; but it is not apt, except in persons very happily born, to open and to liberalize the mind exactly in the same proportion.

* * * *

When great honours and great emoluments do not win over this knowledge to the service of the state, it is a formidable adversary to government. If the spirit be not tamed and broken by these happy methods, it is stubborn and litigious. Abeunt studia in mores. This study renders men acute, inquisitive, dexterous, prompt in attack, ready in defence, full of

resources.

SUPERSTITION.

But is superstition the greatest of all possible vices ? In its possible excess I think it becomes a very great evil. It is, however, a moral subject; and of course admits of all degrees and all modifications. Superstition is the religion of feeble minds; and they must be tolerated in an intermixture of it, in some trifling or some enthusiastic shape or other, else you will deprive weak minds of a resource found necessary to the strongest. The body of all true religion consists, to be sure, in obedience to the will of the sovereign of the world; in a confidence in his declarations; and an imitation of his perfections. The rest is our own. It may be prejudicial to the great end; it may be auxiliary. Wise men, who as such, are not admirers (not admirers at least of the munera terra) are not violently attached to these things, nor do they violently hate them,

SYMPATHY.

Men are rarely without some sympathy in the sufferings of others; but in the inmense and diversified inass of human misery, which may be pitied, but cannot be relieved, in the gross, the inind must make a choice. Our sympathy is always more forcibly attracted towards the misfortunes of certain persons, and in certain descriptions; and this sympathetic attraction discovers, beyond a possibility of mistake, our mental affinities, and elective affections. It is a much surer proof, than the strongest declaration, of a real connexion and of an over-ruling bias in the mind.

TALENTS.

REMEMBER that great parts are a great trust. Remember too that mistaken or misapplied virtues, if they are not as pernicious as vice, frustrate at least their own natural tendencies, and disappoint the purposes of the great Giver,

TASTE.

On the whole it appears to me that what is called taste, in its most general acceptation, is not a simple idea, but is partly made up of a perception of the

primary pleasures of sense, of the secondary pleasures of the imagination, and of the conclusions of the reasoning faculty, concerning the various relations of these, and concerning the human passions, manners, and actions. All this is requisite to form taste, and the ground-work of all these is the same in the human mind; for as the senses are the great originals of all our ideas, and consequently of all our pleasures, if they are not uncertain and arbitrary, the whole groundwork of taste is common to all, and therefore there is a sufficient foundation for a conclusive reasoning on these matters.

* * * *

Taste and elegance, though they are reckoned only among the smaller and secondary morals, yet are of no mean importance in the regulation of life. A moral taste is not of force to turn vice into virtue ; but it recommends virtue with something like the blandishments of pleasure ; and it infinitely abates the evils of vice.

TAXATION OF SALARIES RECEIVED FROM THE

STATE.

I HAVE always thought employments a very proper subject of regulation, but a very ill-chosen subject for a tax. An equal tax upon property is reasonable ; because the object is of the same quality throughout. The species is the same, it differs only in its quantity : but a tax upon salaries is totally of a different nature; there can be no equality, and consequently no justice, in taxing them by the hundred, in the gross.

[merged small][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »