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LAW OF EQUILIBRIUM, OR OF THE DUE MEAN. A just Medium should be observed in all Things.

The operation which takes place in an exchange may be compared with the oscillation of a balance, the two scales of which at length stand still at the point of equilibrium. The consummation of the act which I call exchange, which results from the discussion between the seller and the buyer, and terminates that discussion, forms the point of equilibrium, or of the due mean, which exists in like manner in all human concerns. This general principle, the applications and consequences of which are very numerous and infi. nitely diversified, is connected in some respects with the law of the point of support, and belongs as well to mechanics and hydraulics, which are always obliged to establish a just equilibrium between the powers they employ; to optics, to astronomy, to geometry, to architecture, to all the physical and mathematical sciences; to anatomy and physiology; to medicine and to gymnastics, which preserve the health of man, merely by keeping his powers and humours in a kind of equili


brium ; to morality and to politics, which study to balance and reconcile the frequently contrary movements of our passions ; to political economy, which works the different wheels of the social organisation in such a manner that they harmonize together, and mutually support each other; to legislation and jurisprudence, whose province it is to weigh our duties and our rights in an impartial balance, whence results public morality; and lastly to metaphysics and general philosophy.

In mineralogy and chemistry, the law of equilibrium is observed in the union of various substances, in consequence of their inutual attractions. When all the affinities are satisfied, the combination stops, and there is established a point of equilibrium, which determines particular forms and properties.

In political economy, it is an acknowledged principle, that productions of all kinds naturally find the level of the wants of the consumers. Such is also the case with the social professions, which proportion themselves to the wants of the inhabitants of a district or town, without needing the interference of the legislature or local authorities for the increase or diminution of their number: there is a constant tendency to an equilibrium among them.

In literature and in poetry it is necessary to guard equally against meanness, bombast, and every kind of exaggeration.

In the dramatic art the distances of the times and places to which the action is assigned must not be too widely extended : and the tragic poet ought never to carry the feelings of pity or terror beyond that point at which the heart finds those emotions agreeable.

In morals, every virtue, courage, modesty, justice, prudence, nay, even moderation itself, is placed between two extremes. An extreme degree of an agreeable quality borders on the first degree of a quality which is displeasing.

In philosophy, we ought, according to Bacon, to preserve a due medium between the dogmatism

of the peripatetics, which begins where it ought 1. to end (with certainty), and the vacillating doctrine of the sceptics, which ends where it e would be sufficient to begin (with doubt).

If we would make any progress in the sciences, we must avoid these two extremes : one hand, the frequently imprudent boldness of those who lose themselves among systems; on the other, the pusillanimous timidity of indolent or grovelling minds, which have no wish to pass the limits of that which immediately surrounds them. We should also bear in mind the precept of Horace: Nil admirari—not to conceive an undue admiration or esteem for any object whatever.


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In military tactics, and in the disposition of an army on a march, a general should not make his columns too numerous and too weak, which might render theif movements too complicated; nor should they be too strong, as they would then be less manageable, and more tardy in their evolutions.

The law of the due mean deserves to be attentively considered in every department of the physical, moral and intellectual, social and political world. It manifests itself in the general action of nature, which, according to the expression of a philosopher, balancing the exuberance of reptoduction and life by death, keeps the population of the globe within proper limits.


In Nature all is Action and Re-action.

The perfect state of equilibrium, which belongs to the general law that we have just examined, and which may be observed in natural philosophy,

mechanics, medicine, morals, and politics, is the constant result of an alternate motion, or a kind of balancing, to which every thing in nature is subject.

All is action and re-action-every thing has, like the sea, its flood and ebb. The application of this general principle is found in all the sciences : in astronomy, and in the observation of the laws of the motions of the heavenly bodies; in physics, in chemistry, and in individual bodies, or their particles, as in the mechanism of the universe; in medicine, anatomy, and physiology, which consider the actions and re-actions of our humours and solids; in the alternate motions in which the circulation of the blood consists; and, lastly, in the social and political body, as in the human body; in the revolutions of empires, in the moral and political sciences, in nature, and in the arts. It is connected with all the other general laws already treated of.

In mechanics, the equilibrium is the result of a perfect equality of powers, in the action and reaction of two bodies, acting one against the other.

The same principle manifests itself in physiology and medicine. The different parts of the body enjoy that perfect equilibrium which constitutes the state of health, only inasmuch as the

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