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came to be necessary ? He answers, that civil educated under another form, than that this is society could not well exist without them. So of worse consequences to mankind. For the that these arts are necessary to civil society, free governments, for the point of their space, and civil society necessary again to these arts. and the moment of their duration, have felt Thus are we running in a circle, without more confusion, and committed more flagrant modesty, and without end, and making one acts of tyranny, than the most perfect despotic errour and extravagance an excuse for the governments which we have ever known. Turn other. My sentiments about these arts and your eye next to the labyrinth of the law, and their cause, I have often discoursed with my the iniquity conceived in its intricate recesses. friends at large. Pope has expressed them in Consider the ravages committed in the bowels good verse, where he talks with so much force of all commonwealths by ambition, by avarice, of reason and elegance of language, in praise envy, fraud, open injustice, and pretended of the state of nature:

friendship; vices which could draw little supThen was not pride, nor arts that pride to aid,

port from a state of nature, but which blossom Man walk'd with beast, joine-lenant of the and Aourish in the rankness of political society. shade.

Revolve our whole discourse; add to it all On the whole, my Lord, if political society, those reflections which your own good underin whatever form, has still made the many the standing shall suggest, and make a strenuous property of the few; if it has introduced la- effort beyond the reach of vulgar philosophy, bours unnecessary, vices and diseases un- to confess that the cause of artificial society is known, and pleasures incompatible with nature;

more defenceless even than that of artificial reif in all countries it abridges the lives of mil- ligion; that it is as derogatory from the honour lions, and renders those of millions more utter- of the Creator, as subversive of human reason, ly abject and miserable, shall we still worship and productive of infinitely more mischief to so destructive an idol, and daily sacrifice to it the human race. our health, our liberty, and our peace ? Or If pretended revelations have caused wars shall we pass by this monstrous heap of ab- where they were opposed, and slavery where surd notions, and abominable practices, think- they were received, the pretended wise invening we have sufficiently discharged our duty in tions of politicians have done the same. But exposing the trifling cheats, and ridiculous the slavery has been much heavier, the wars juggles of a few mad, designing, or ambitious far more bloody, and both more universal by priests? Alas! my Lord, we labour under a many degrees. Shew me any mischief promortal consumption, whilst we are so anxious duced by the madness or wickedness of theoloabout the cure of a sore finger. For has not gians, and I will shew you an hundred, resultthis leviathan of civil power overflowed the ing from the ambition and villany of conquerors earth with a deluge of blood, as if he were and statesmen. Shew me an absurdity in remade to disport and play therein? We have ligion, and I will undertake to shew you an shewn, that political society, on a moderate hundred for one in political laws and institucalculation, has been the means of murdering tions. If you say, that natural religion is a several times the number of inhabitants now sufficient guide without the foreign aid of reupon the earth, during its short existence, not velation, on what principle should political upwards of four thousand years in any accounts laws become necessary? Is not the same reato be depended on. But we have said nothing son available in theology and in politics? If of the other, and perhaps as bad consequence the laws of nature are the laws of God, is it


which have spilled such seas of consistent with the divine wisdom to prescribe blood, and reduced so many millions to a mer- rules to us, and leave the enforcement of them ciless slavery. But these are only the cere- to the folly of human institutions ? Will you monies performed in the porch of the political follow truth but to a certain point ? temple. Much more horrid ones are seen as We are indebted for all our miseries to our you enter it. The several species of govern- distrust of that guide, which Providence ment vie with each other in the absurdity of thought sufficient for our condition, our own their constitutions, and the oppression which natural reason, which rejecting both in human they make their subjects endure. Take them and divine things, we have given our necks to under what form you please, they are in effect the yoke of political and theological slavery. but a despotism, and they fall, both in effect and We have renounced the prerogative of man, appearance too, after a very short period, into and it is no wonder that we should be treated that cruel and detestable species of tyranny; like beasts. But our misery is much greater which I rather call it, because we have been than theirs, as the crime we commit in reject

of these wars,

ing the lawful dominion of our reason is greater or than the present age, with our present pasthan any which they can comunit. If after all, sions, can possibly pretend to. For my part, you should confess all these things, yet plead I quit it without a sigh, and submit to the sovethe necessity of political institutions, weak and reign order without murmuring. The nearer wicked as they are, I can argue with cqual, we approach to the goal of life, the better we perhaps superiour force concerning the neces- begin to understand the true value of our exissity of artificial religion; and every step you tenco, and the real weight of our opinions. advance in your argument, you add a strength We set out much in love with both; but we to mine. So that if we are resolved to submit leave much behind us as we advance. We our reason and our liberty to civil usurpation, first throw away the tales along with the rattles we have nothing to do but to conform as quiet- of our nurses; those of the priest keep their ly as we can to the vulgar notions which are hold a little longer; those of our governours connected with this, and take up the theology the longest of all. But the passions which of the vulgar as well as their politics. But if prop these opinions are withdrawn one after we think this necessity rather imaginary than another; and the cool light of reason at the real, we should renounce their dreams of so- setting of our life, shews us what a false ciety, together with their visions of religion, splendour played upon these objects during our and vindicate ourselves into perfect liberty. more sanguine seasons. Happy, my Lord, if

You are, my Lord, but just entering into the instructed by my experience, and even by my world; I am going out of it. I have played errours, you come early to make such an estilong enough to be heartily tired of the drama. mate of things, as may give freedom and ease Whether I have acted my part in it well or ill, to your life. I am happy that such an estiposterity will judge with more candour than I, mate promises me comfort at my death.












I HAVE endeavoured to make this edition of our nature binds us to a strict law and very something more full and satisfactory than the narrow limits. We ought afterwards to ren first. I have sought with the utmost care, and examine the principles by the effect of the read with equal attention, every thing which composition, as well as the composition by that has appeared in public against my opinions ; I of the principles. We ought to compare our have taken advantage of the candid liberty of subject with things of a similar nature, and my friends; and if by these means I have been even with things of a contrary nature ; for better enabled to discover the imperfections discoveries may be and often are made by the of the work, the indulgence it has received, contrast, which would escape us on the single imperfect as it was, furnished me with a new view. The greater number of the comparisons motive to spare no reasonable pains for its we make, the more general and the more certain improvement. Though I have not found suffi- our knowledge is like to prove, as built upon a cient reason, or what appeared to me sufficient, more extensive and perfect induction. for making any material change in my theory, If an inquiry thus carefully conducted, should I have found it necessary in many places to fail at last of discovering the truth, it may explain, illustrate, and enforce it. I have answer an end perhaps as useful, in discovering prefixed an introductory discourse concerning to us the weakness of our own understanding. Taste: it is a matter curious in itself; and it If it does not make us knowing, it may make leads naturally enough to the principal inquiry. us modest. If it does not preserve us from This, with the other explanations, has made errour, it may at least from the spirit of errour; the work considerably larger ; and by increas- and may make us cautious of pronouncing with ing its bulk has, I am afraid, added to its faults; positiveness or with haste, when so much labour so that, notwithstanding all my attention, it may end in so much uncertainty. may stand in need of a yet greater share of in- I could wish that in examining this theory, dulgence than it required at its first appearance. the same method were pursued which I endea

They who are accustomed to studies of this voured to observe in forming it. The objecnature will expect, and they will allow too for tions, in my opinion, ought to be proposed, many faults. They know that many of the either to the several principles as they are objects of our inquiry are in themselves ob- distincty considered, or to the justness of the scure and intricate; and that many others have conclusion which is drawn from them. But it been rendered so by affected refinements or false is common to pass over both the premises and Icaring; they know that there are many im- conclusion in silence, and to produce as an pediments in the subject, in the prejudices of objection, some poetical passage which does others, and even in our own, that render it a not seem easily accounted for upon the princi. matter of no small difficulty to shew in a clear ples I endeavour to establish. This manner light the genuine face of nature. They know of proceeding I should think very improper. that whilst the mind is intent on the general The task would be infinite, if we could estascheme of things, some particular parts must blish no principle until we had previously unbe neglected; that we must often submit the ravelled the complex texture of every image style to the matter, and frequently give up the or description to be found in poets and orators. praise of elegance, satisfied with being clear. And though we should never be able to reconcile

The characters of nature are legible, it is the effect of such images to our principles, this true ; but they are not plain enough to enable can never overturn the theory itself, whilst it is those who run, to read them. We must make founded on certain and indisputable facts. A use of a cautious, I had almost said, a timorous theory founded on experiment, and not assumed, method of proceeding. We must not attempt is always good for so much as it explains. Our to fly, when we can scarcely pretend to creep. inability to push it indefinitely is no argument In considering any complex matter, we ought to at all against it. This inability may be owing examine every distinct ingredient in the com- to our ignorance of some necessary mediums; position, one by one; and reduce every thing to a want of proper application ; to many other to the utmost simplicity; since the condition causes besides a defect in the principles we

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