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depend on their caprice for all that we enjoy? It is true, said I, this seems a reason.
AGAIN ; Is not power of every degree as much contested for as wealth? Are not magistracies, honours, principalities, and empire, the subjects of strife and everlasting con, tention ? I replied, They were. And why, said he, this? To obtain what end? Is it not to help us, like wealth, to the possession of what we desire ? Is it not farther to ascertain, to secure our enjoyments ; that when others would deprive us, we may be strong enough to resist them? I replied, it was.
Or to invert the whole ; Why are there, who seek re. cesses the most diftant and retired; flee courts and power, and submit to parfimony and obscurity? Why all this, but from the fame intention? From an opinion that fmall pos; feflions, used moderately, are permanent; that larger poffeflions raise envy, and are more frequently invaded ; that: the safety of power and dignity is more precarious, than that of retreat; and that therefore they have chosen, what is most eligible upon the whole? It is not, faid I, improbable, that they act by some such motive.
Do you not see then,' continued he, two or three more pre-conceptions of the Sovereign Good, which are fought for by all, as essential to constitute it? And what, said I, are thefe ? That it should not be transient, nor derived from the will of others, nor in their power to take away ; but be durable, self-derived, and (if I may use the expression) indeprivable. I confess, said I, it appears so. But we have already found it to be considered, as something agreeable to our nature; conducive, not to mere being, but to well-being; and what we aim to have accommodated to all places and times. We have. - K3
THERE may be other characteristics, said he, but these I think suficient. See then its idea; behold it, as collected from the original, natural and universal pre-conceptions of all mankind. The Sovereign Good, they have taught us, ought to be something agreeable to our nature; conducive to well-being ; cccommodated to all places avd times : durable, self-derived, and indeprivable. Your account, said I, appears just.
THE SAME SUBJECT. DRUTUS perished untimely, and Cæfar did no more D These words I was repeating the next day to myself, when my friend appeared, and chearfully bade me good. morrow. I could not return his compliment with an equal gaiety, being intent, somewhat more than usual, on what had passed the day before. Seeing this, he proposed a walk into the fields. The face of nature, said he, will perhaps dispel these glooms. No aflistance, on my part, shall be wanting, you may be assured. I accepted his proposal ; the walk began; and our former conversation insensibly renewed.
Brutus, said he, perished untimely, and Cæsar did no more. It was thus, as I remember, not long since you were expressing yourself. And yet fuppose their fortunes to have been exactly parallel - Which would you have prefere red? Would you have been Cæfar, or Brutus ? Brutus, replied I, beyond all controversy. He aked me, Why? Where was the difference, when their fortunes, as we now supposed them, were considered as the same? There seems, faid I, abftract from their fortunes, something, I know not
what, intrinsically preferable in the life and character of Brutus. If that, said he, be true, then must we derive it, not from the success of his endeavours, but from their truth and rectitude. He had the comfort to be conscious, that his caufe was a just one. It was impossible the other should have any such feeling. I believe, said I, you have explained it.
SUPPOSE then, continued he, (it is but merely an hypothesis) fuppose, I say, we were to place the Sovereign Good in such a rectitude of conduct, in the Conduct merely, and not in the Event. Suppofe we were to fix our Happiness not in the actual attainment of that health, that perfection of a social state, that fortunate concurrence of externals, which is congruous to our nature, and which all have a right to pursue ; but folely fix it in the mere doing whatever is correspondent to such an end, even though we never attain, or are near attaining it. In fewer words; What if we make our natural state the standard only to determine our conduct; and place our happiness in the rectitude of this conduct alone? On such an hypothefis (and we consider it as nothing farther) we should not want a good, perhaps, to correspond to our pre-conceptions ; for this, it is evident, would be correspondent to them all. Your doctrine, replied I, is so new and frange, that though you have been copious in explaining, I can hardly yet comprehend you.
It amounts all, said he, but to this: Place your happiness, where your praise is. I asked, Where he supposed that? Not, replied he, in the pleasures which you feel, more than your disgrace lies in the pain ; not in the casual prosperity of fortune, more than your disgrace in the casual adversity; but in just complete action throughout every part of life, whatever be the face of things, whether favourable, or the contrary.
But why then, said I, such accuracy about externals ? So much pains to be informed, what are pursuable, what avoidable? It behoves the Pilot, replied he, to know the 'feas and the winds; the nature of tempefts, calms and tides.
They are the subjects, about which his art is conversant. Without a just experience of them, he can never prove himself an artist. Yet we look not for his reputation either in fair gales, or in adverse ; but in the skilfulnefs of his conduet, be these events as they happen. In like manner fares it with the moral artist. He, for a subject, has the whole of human life: health and sickness; pleasure and pain ; with every other possible incident, which can befal him during his existence. If his knowledge of all these be accurate and exact, so too muft his conduct, in which we place his happiness. But if his knowledge be defective, must not his condact be defective also ? I replied, so it Mould feem. And if his conduct, then his happiness? It is true.
You see then, continued he, even though externals were as nothing; though it was true, in their own nature, they were neither good nor evil; yet an accurate knowledge of them is, from our hypothesis, absolutely necessary. Indeed, said I, you have proved it.
He continued--Inferior artists may be at a stand, because they want materials. From their stubbornness and intractability, they may often be disappointed. But as long as life is pafling, and nature continues to operate, the moral artist of life has at all times all he desires. He can never want a subject fit to exercise him in his proper calling; and that with this happy motive to the constancy of his endeavours, that, the crosser, the harsher, the more untoward the events, the greater his praise, the more illustrious his reputation.
All this, said I, is true, and cannot be denied. But · one circumstance there appears, where your fimile seems to fail. The praise indeed of the Pilot we allow to be in his conduct; but it is in the success of that conduct, where we look for his happiness. If a storm arise, and the ship be loft, we call him not happy, how well soever he may have con-ducted it. It is then only we congratulate him, when he has reached the desired haven. Your distinction, said he, is just... And it is here lies the noble prerogative of moral artists, above all others. But yet I know not how to explain myself, I fear my doctrine will appear so strange. You may proceed, said I, safely,. since you advance it but as an hya pothesis.
Thus then, continued he–The end in other arts is ever distant and removed. It confifts not in the mere conduct, much less in a single energy; but is the just result of many. energies, each of which are essential to it. Hence, by ob-stacles unavoidable, it may often be retarded: nay more, may be fo embarrassed, as never poffibly to be attained. But in the moral art of life, the very.conduct is the End; the very conduct, I say, itself, throughout every its minutest energy; because each of these, however minute, partake as truly of rectitude; as the largest combination of them, when considered collectively. Hence, of all arts this is the only one perpetually complete in every instant, because it needs. not, like other arts, time to arrive at that perfection, at which in every instant it is arrived already. Hence by dus ration it is not rendered either more or less perfect; completion, like truth, admitting of no degrees, and being in ne: sense capable of either intention or remiffion. And hence too by necessary connection (which is a greater paradox thanks all) even that Happiness or Sovereign Gcod, the end of this: K 5.