« AnteriorContinuar »
and by a spirit of prudence, regularity, and economy. Be its origin what it may, it confers pure, genuine, extensive and diversified pleasures on him only in whom are combined the advantages of a sound mind, a well-regulated soul, and a cultivated understanding. Wealth, like power, honours and reputation, is a mean, but not an end: it affords real and solid advantages to bim who knows how to make a proper use of it for himself and others; but it cannot singly bestow happi. ness, and is valuable only when accompanied by the three means above-mentioned. Let us suppose, for example, a man possessed of an immense fortune, but amidst his wealth tormented by disease, immersed in the grossest ignorance, destitute of morality and feeling, and consequently a stranger to the delights of friendship, the charms of society, the pure pleasures of love, and those with which the arts and sciences embellish life: how could such a person be happy? All the other possessions that excite our desires are in the same predicament : none of them is of any value without health, which enables us to enjoy them; without tranquillity and dignity of soul, evenness of temper and disposition, or a good moral constitution, which afford the double advantage of having friends who increase our happiness by sharing it with us, and of standing well with ourselves; lastly, without culture and elevation of mind, or knowledge, which qualifies us the better to appreciate all the means of preservation and well-being, and confers on them an additional charm.
II. OF THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE OF EDUCATION AND Mo
RALITY, OR THE FIRST LAW OF NATURE, WHICH BINDS ALL MEN TOGETHER BY THEIR RECIPROCAL INTERESTS.
The principle of education, or the science which aims at forming men and rendering them happy, is completely embraced in this law. of nature, which is likewise the basis of morality and the first link in the social chain :-" It is in the reciprocal well-being of each of the individuals composing society that each individually and all together can find happiness, and the means of meliorating their condition; or, the particular interest of each tends naturally, and by the force of things, to identify itself with the general interest." He must be thoroughly convinced of this truth, who seeks demonstrations of it in the circumstances which preceded and attended the formation of societies in their successive periods of improvement, and in their present state of civili. sation.
Man is naturally a social being. Society is as
necessary to him as the air he breathes. He never can, with impunity, separate himself from his kind, and seek an exclusive happiness. The individual welfare, and the public welfare, are two things which cannot be divided. A judicious employment of the means of our own preservation, and that of the great social family to which we belong, which tends to produce in each of us healthy and robust bodies, well-regulated souls, and expanded and cultivated understandings, leads at the same time to happiness and virtue. The latter is the conformity of our will and actions with the welfare of our fellow-creatures, or with the public welfare, from which our particular welfare results. All these things have a necessary connexion with one another. We thus view the question of happiness in a more correct and comprehensive manner, and never separate private interest from the general interest of mankind,
III. OF THREE POWERS OR FACULTIES, WHICH MAY BE DISTINGUISHED IN MAN, AND THE DEVELOPMENT AND PERFECT HARMONY OF WHICH ARE NECESSARY FOR HIS HAPPINESS.
The personal well-being of each individual, and the faculty of contributing to the happiness of others, which essentially belongs to it, result from the concurrence and perfect harmony of the three
distinct powers, which, according to the received opinion, compose and constitute man :
1. The heart, or the moral instinct, which produces actions ;
2. The mind, or the conception and intelligence which combines and directs them;
3. The body, or the physical power, which executes them.
If these three powers, or faculties, were not simultaneously exercised and developed by education, man would possess neither personal happiness, nor the means of contributing to the happiness of others.
If the body be not sound and robust, the happiness of the individual is impaired; the mind loses its vigour, and the soul its energy. An ever precarious state of health does not permit a person either to devote his attention to the sciences, or to be serviceable to others and to himself,
If the mind be not cultivated by instruction, man, brutalized and degraded, renounces his noblest privilege; he is cut off from the most delicious pleasures, and the most solid wealth.
If the soul be not fraught with a sense of its dignity, nor elevated to the level of its noble destination ; if the heart be not tender and generous; physical strength and the talents of the mind are
vain advantages, which, when ill directed, are frequently injurious to society in general, as well as to him who possesses merely to abuse them.
V. OF THE THREE POINTS OF VIEW IN WHICH THE EMPLOY
MENT OF LIFE OUGHT TO BE CONSIDERED.
In order then to be happy, we ought to turn our physical, moral, and intellectual faculties to due advantage. The first, which comprehend bodily health and a sound constitution, require keeping up by daily and moderate exercise; walking or riding, manual occupations, habits of cleanliness, sobriety, and temperance, and abstinence from every
kind of excess. The second are connected with the practice of virtue, nobleness and purity of soul, and the serenity of a conscience clear and void of reproach; that delicious serenity which springs from the good we do and the evil from which we abstain. In this respect there is implanted in our hearts a secret and unexceptionable instinct, a moral sense which speaks to all men, a warning voice, to the suggestions of which they ought to listen, and whose advice they should follow. Lastly, the intellectual faculties are not developed and improved without a careful cultivation of the mind, and studies judiciously adapted to one another.