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long period whatever seemed capable of furnishing either materials for erudition and observation, or food for meditation, led to the frequently accidental discovery, and afterwards to the investigation and combination, of these truths or general laws. I shall here confine myself to the exhibition of them in the natural order of their connection and bearings.
For the frequent quotations, which the nature of my subject justifies, or rather demands, it is scarcely necessary to apologize. Expatiating in the different provinces of the sciences, to verify all my general laws by numerous and diversified experiments, I could not help appealing to the authority of men who had made those sciences their particular study. Accordingly I have successively consulted naturalists and physiologists, physicians and metaphysicians, soldiers, moralists, and political writers, and sought in the scattered fragments with which their works supplied me, a warrant for my opinion respecting the general nature of the laws which I lay down.
On this head I feel so confident, that I have no hesitation to invite scholars, philosophers, moralists, and young people of observation, to apply my general principles, either in their actions and their intercourse with other men, or
in their studies and reading, in history, morals, politics, and the sciences. These principles or laws may thus become points of support and useful guides to youth ; and it appears the more suitable to prefix them to this Essay on the Art of Employing Time, because on the one hand they have been discovered and verified, as I have just stated, by means of the method here developed, and on the other several of these principles are repeated, quoted, and applied in the course of the work.
FIRST GENERAL LAW,
LAW OF THE POINT OF SUPPORT. A Point of Support is requisite in every Thing.
“Give me a point of support,” said Archimedes, “and I will move heaven and earth.” This luminous and fertile principle, borrowed from natural philosophy, mechanics, hydraulics, architecture, anatomy, particularly in the action of the locomotive organs of the animal machine, and from the physical arts and sciences, is not less applicable, from an exact analogy in expressions, to metaphysics, morals and politics, to legislation, education, rhetoric, logic, the conduct of life, general philosophy, and all the sciences. “In logic, as in trigonometry," observes a French writer, “ the first operation must be to lay down a base.”
From the law of the point of support result the utility and necessity of all the methods which assist and uphold the human mind. Methods are to the sciences what instruments and machines are to the arts, a kind of rules, compasses, levers, telescopes, quadrants, &c. which make amends for human weakness, and furnish it with assistants and auxiliaries. The progress of all the sciences depends much more than may be supposed on the invention and improvement of methods, instruments, and points of support, destined to increase their activity. The human mind has need of fixed and unerring rules to facilitate, guide, and rectify all its operations.
This first principle once established leads us in search of others, which themselves become points of support, and have general applications, the extent and consequences of which are unlimited.
In morals we admit, that in all conditions and in all the actions of life, a man should have a certain firmness of character and will, which is a point of support that upholds his conduct. A
weak mind is always vacillating in irresolution and uncertainty : it is tossed by the billows of human opinions, and becomes the sport of extraneous influences, frequently pernicious, inimical, and adverse to one another. It knows not how to keep a due medium, falls into extremes, and always fails of attaining its end. *
In morals an enlightened conscience and mind furnish points of support, like the methods in metaphysics; the levers, ladders, and machines of all kinds, in mechanics ; the foundations laid by architecture to ensure the solidity of an edifice; the general rules fixed by legislation for the government of society; the conventions and treaties in diplomacy and in commercial and political relations; the arguments in logic; and the rules, of every kind, laid down by taste or custom in the arts and sciences.
* “If the mind,” observes a philosophic writer, “ be neglected in childhood, and we suffer it to pass from wants to passions, without availing ourselves of the interregnum to plant in it certain powerful ideas that shall fix it for life, it will soon be hurried away by the torrent of the world.” Religion is therefore, in many respects, a necessary point of support, which it behoves education, morality, legislation, and politics, to employ, for the purpose of fixing the opinions and actions of men on more solid bases.
A method of employing time is a point of support in the conduct of life. The law of the point of support deserves to be examined, observed and applied in all parts of the physical, moral, intellectual, social, and political world. Luminousand productive facts of all kinds are the real points of support, on which repose observation and meditation, those two great intellectual powers which alone are capable of advancing the sciences.
SECOND GENERAL LAW.
LAW OF GENERATION OR CAUSES,
There is no Effect without Cause.
The word cause, in its most extensive signification, denotes whatever contributes to the production of a thing. The terms cause and effect convey to the mind an idea of a certain succession of facts arising out of one another. The principle which connects them together is most frequently unknown. It is useful nevertheless to study this order of succession, that we may know from experience in what manner certain facts are linked together in a chain of mutual dependence, and how some produce those which habitually