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Agent by whom this conftitution is formed, and by whose influence caufes operate and effects are produced. The work, alfo, confidered in this point of view, is not without merit; as part of a moral fyftem it is not unworthy of a perufal; the ftyle is natural, animated, and agreeable, and the thoughts are often judicious and folid; but confidered as a complete system, it is deficient and lame.
The great principle from whence our Author draws all his conclufions is, that man is an intelligent, rational, and focial being, fufceptible of pleasure and pain, depending for both, upon his fellow creatures who must be engaged by pleasures to promote bis pleafure, and who will not contribute to it when he injures them, or makes them fuffer. There is nothing, furely, new in this selfish fcheme of morals. It is rather in his details than in his principles that this anonymous moralift deserves attention.
His work is divided into three Parts, or five Sections. The first part contains the Theory of Morals, the fecond-the Pratice of Morals, and the third, the Duties of private Life; which latter we wonder to fee made a diftinct part, as it is evidently comprehended in the Practice of Morals; but we ought not to expect order or arrangement from Atheists, though by a fortuitous rencounter they may now and then throw out good things. Our Author, however, piques himfelf upon his method, and acknowledging that he derives his beft materials from the ancients, whom he criticifes feverely on account of their fophiftry and metaphyfics, he claims the merit of having digefted thefe materials into a lucid order, that carries all the marks of fimplicity and evidence. In his firft fection we bave his General Principles and Definitions, which fill nine chapters, relative to moral obligation, the nature of man, his fenfibility, intellectual faculties, pleasures, pains, and felicity; his paffions, defires, and wants; his will and actions, together with fome fhort, fuperficial touches on experience, truth, reason, confcience, inftruction, habit, and education, and the effects of confcience in morality. In the difcuffion of these points many ingenious hints and reflexions are thrown out; but they are not all folid. They all, however, read agreeably, and give the philofophic mind fometimes occafion to re-examine its ideas.
The fecond fection contains the Duties of Man in a State of Nature, and in a State of Society; as alfo the focial Virtues. Here the Author confiders first the duties of man in a ftate of nature, i. e. according to his notion of the expreffion, a state of folitude. He fays that moralifts and philofophers call the state of nature that in which man is confidered abftractedly from all connexions with his fellow-creatures. In this definition of the ftate of nature he is evidently mistaken, fince the whole body of eminent moralifts and philofophers call fo that state, which
is anterior to all pofitive conventions, and all civil fubordina tion and obligations. It is not, indeed, likely that the ftate of nature, taken in either of these fenfes, continued long enough to deferve the name of a fate. Our Author, accordingly, confiders his state of nature as a fituation merely ideal; but he mentions it only to fhew that though man never exifted in that ftate, there are, nevertheless, certain duties which he owes to himself; and as he defines duties as the means that are necessary in order to obtain the end we propofe to ourselves (a very good atheistical definition) there is no doubt but man, even in folitude, has duities to perform toward himself: he is obliged to eat and drink as well as he can, to take care that he does not break his neck or fall into a river; his confcience will torment him if he burns his finger, or acquires an ague by eating too many water-melons; and hence prudence, moderation, and temperance are essen-· tial to the felicity of man confidered in a state of folitude. From this ftate our Author, in the fame fection, follows him into fociety; and here, after confidering the focial contract, or alliance to which man is naturally led by his propenfities, wants, and defires, he demonftrates, that it is the intereft of each individual to maintain harmony and order in the fociety, as here alone lies the fource of both private and public tranquillity and happiness. Here he treats, in feveral chapters, of virtue in general, of justice, humanity, compaffion, beneficence, modefty, honour, glory, temperance, chastity, prudence, fortitude, magnanimity, patience, veracity, activity, mildness, indulgence, toleration, complaifance, and politenefs, which he reprefents as the foundations of the focial edifice, and on which he fays many good things. There is a great deal of fimplicity and good fenfe in this fection, which is quite of a practical kind, and adapted to fhew men, who were previously good in confequence of religious principle or the happy effects of natural character, example, or education, that they are in the right road to happiness; but it will never convince the licentious and unjust that he is on the wrong road to perfonal felicity, if he thinks he has cunning enough to escape the gout, the pox, the confumption, the pillory, or the gibbet, and as to public felicity, What is it to him, who is here to-day and will be annihilated a little time hence? It is therefore the good Chriftian who has the leaft need of it, who, alone, will read this Univerfal Morality with profit and pleasure.
It has been fometimes difputed, whether a fenfe of shame, in expofing to view or making the fubjects of converfation the
This the French call happily pudeur, which is more limited to the objects in question than our terms fhame-facedness, modefly, which
parts and pleafures on which depend the propagation of the fpecies, be a natural principle? The nakedness of our first parents in a state of innocence, the nudity of an Indian, the effects of. nudity upon children, would lead us to confider this kind of modefty, as an acquired principle, which owes its rife to a concioufnets of inward irregularity, or an undue degree of force in the fenfual paffions, or to the apprehenfion that we are fufpected of fuch irregularity, or to the mark of infamy that we fee attached in fociety to the perfons who needlessly expofe thefe parts, or talk roundly and with complacence of thefe inferior pleasures. Our Author touches this delicate fubject fomewhat fuperficially, but not injudiciously, and neither here nor elfewhere do his moral maxims at all favour of licentioufnefs or fenfuality. He does not think, with fome analyfers of fentiment and feeling, that the fenfe in queftion has for its foundation or principle, prejudice, convention, or the customs and ufages of polifhed nations: he rather thinks that this peculiar fenfe of fame
is founded on natural reafon, which pointing out the diforder and havock that voluptuoufnefs and debauchery are adapted to produce in human fociety, fhews thereby that it is the interest of fociety that thofe objects fhould be veiled with care, and thofe pleasures concealed from obfervation which tend to excite voluptuous and criminal defires.' Accordingly our Author defines this fpecies of modesty (la pudeur) by calling it the apprehenfion or fear of kindling within ourselves, or exciting in others, dangerous paffions, by expofing to obfervation the objects from which they take their rife. All this is orthodox, but we queftion whether it is entirely accurate. We should be inclined rather to think that voluptuousness, abftractedly from its pernicious influence on fociety, has, when compared with the nobler pleafures of virtue and order, an intrinfic meanness ftamped upon its nature, which will ftrike a mind that is in a good moral fate, and make it afhamed of any thing that indicates too great a propensity to fenfual gratifications.
The third fection prefents to our view the melancholy tabla. ture of moral evil; i. e. of the crimes, vices, and feelings of men. Examining thefe in their influence upon fociety, and upon the vicious themselves, he undertakes to prove, that there is no vice that is not feverely punished, both by the nature of things, and by the nature and conftitution of fociety; and that every inftance of conduct that is prejudicial to others, becomes fo in the iffue to the perfon himself from whom it proceeds. This we pofitively deny to be the cafe in every inftance, during this
are equally used for many other fentiments, or even than chastity, which denotes rather abitinence from the vicious deed than any thing cile.
prefent life, to which the Author scrupulously confines his views. It may be true with respect to drunken foxhunters, hot-headed debaucheés, clumfy pickpockets, ftupid highwaymen, phrenetic murderers; but it is not true with respect to the fagacious hypocrite, the dextrous adulterer, the prudent poifoner, the calculating fenfualift, and the man, who having extinguished all idea of futurity, and all tafte for rational pleafure, violates the laws of honefty, candour, fidelity, &c. with provident precautions taken againft contingencies. Brutibus XV. lived in a feries of fenfual and voluptuous gratifications, which impoverifhed his dominions, produced fcenes of oppreffion, extortion, and mifery: he spent among whores and profligates, millions that had been inhumanly drawn from the fweat of unprotected and painful industry, and we do not find that he was severely punifhed by the courfe of events. If he fuffered from confcience, of which we have not had any information, it was not from a confcience of our Author's manufacture; for this being no more by his definition than the knowledge of the effects that our actions produce upon our fellow-creatures and upon ourselves by recoiling from them,-thefe effects and this counterbuff produced nothing difagreeable to Brutibus, who ftill obtained all he defired, which was money to buy ignoble pleasures; and his days, spent in the flowery paths of fenfuality, were terminated by an accidental diforder, which had no connexion with his vices, for it was the small-pox that ended a long life of voluptuousness, by a ftupid, and confequently a remorfelefs, exit; and this, with many fimilar inftances, will overturn this part of our Author's fyftem. Still, indeed, it is true, that virtue on the whole, and in the iffue, contributes to the happiness of a society, but vice is not always vifited, by calamity, upon the individual; for vice is a flow poifon, and the individual who fcattered it may be long gone off the scene in tranquillity and well-being, if neither confcience (in our sense of that word) nor the awful prospect of futurity troubled, upon earth, his iniquitous and licentious mo ments. For the reft the Author makes many juft reflexions in this fection, on injustice, murders, theft, cruelty-On pride, vanity, and luxury-On anger, vengeance, ill humour, and mifanthropy-On avarice and prodigality-On ingratitude -On envy, jealoufy and cenforioufnefs, which he dispatches in three pages---On lying, flattery, hypocrify and calumny--On laziness, inactivity, Ennui (for we have yet got no word
• The word Ennui has, by fome bungling tranflators of French books, been expreffed in English by the term laffitude, which fignifies that state of debility and dejection which fucceeds hard labour. But ennui is quite another thing; it is most frequently found where
for it) and its effects, gaming, &c---On diffolute manners, debauchery, love, and indecent pleafures---On intemperance -And lastly, on failings, imperfections, ridiculous objects, and difagreeable qualities in focial life.
The fourth Section, which treats of the Practice of Morality, takes up the whole fecond part of the work, and turns upon the Morality or duties of nations and fovereigns, of the great and the opulent, of nobles and warriors,---of ma. giftrates and lawyers, of the clergy or minifters of religion--of artists and learned men, of merchants, manufacturers, tradefmen, and husbandmen. Here the Author endeavours to fettle our notions and to rectify our ideas with refpect to the law of nations, that is, with refpect to the moral and reciprocal duties and obligations that take place between different ftates and empires. But we fee nothing very new or uncommon in his manner of treating this fubject, though his obfervations upon it are full of good fenfe and humanity. Mankind, according to him, form one vaft fociety, of which the different nations are members. Warmed by the fame fun, furrounded by the fame ocean, endowed with the fame nature, fubject to the fame wants, the inhabitants of different countries ought to confider themfelves, as brethren, united by the fame bonds which attach every individual to the fociety of which he is a member. And this being the cafe how abfurd, fays he (very) justly) are thofe barbarous exclufive prejudices, which make kings and minifters imagine that the grandeur and felicity of a ftate confifts in its bringing on the ruin and deftruction of its neighbours! But, adds our Author (in his fpirited manner) Nature prepares her vials of wrath to chaftife, fooner or later, thofe odious ftates who thus declare themselves the enemies of mankind: forced to purchase their victories with their own blood they fink gradually into a ftate of debility: the riches acquired by war and conqueft corrupt and divide them. Inteftine wars and civil difcords avenge the wrongs of the nations they have oppreffed: loaded with the hatred of all mankind they are at length attacked on every fide: their dominions become the prey of a hundred barbarous nations, whose vengeance they have drawn upon them by their violence and injuftice. Such was the fate of Rome, which after having
neither hard labour, nor indeed any kind of labour have been known, even among kings, princes, lazy lords and fine ladies down to Maccaronies, &c. According to our Author's definition ennui is that languor and ftagnation of body and mind which proceed from inactivity, and the abfence of all lively fenfations that give us an agreeable information of our existence and well-being.
REV. Auguft 1776.