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Damon. We have no desire to be enriched by thee; and, in regard to thy friendship, we cannot accept or enjoy it, till thou become good and just. Without these qualities, thou canst be connected with none but trembling slaves and base flatterers. To be loved and esteemed by men of free and generous minds, thou must be virtuous, affectionate, disinterested, beneficent; and know how to live in a sort of equality with those who share and deserve thy friendship.
IMPORTANCE OF LITERATURE.
CADMUS AND HERCULES.
Her. Do you pretend to sit as high on Olympus as Hercules ? Did you kill the Nemean lion, the Erymanthian boar, the Lernean serpent, and Stymphalian birds ? Did you destroy tyrants and robbers? You value yourself greatly on subduing one serpent: I did as much as that while I lay in my cradle.
Cad. It is not on account of the serpent, that I boast myself a greater benefactor to Greece than you. Actions should be valued by their utility, rather than their splendour. I taught Greece the art of writing, to which laws owe their precision and permanency. You subdued monsters ; I civilized men. It is from untamed passions, not from wild beasts, that the greatest evils arise to human society. By wisdom, by art, by the united strength of civil community, men have been enabled to subdue the whole race of lions, bears, and serpents; and, what is more, to bind by laws and
wholesome regulations, the ferocious violence and dangerous treachery of the human disposition. Had lions been destroyed only in single combat, men had had but a bad time of it; and what but. laws could awe the men who killed the lions ? The genuine glory, the proper distinction of the rational species, arise from the perfection of the mental
powers. Courage is apt to be fierce, and strength is often exerted in acts of oppression; but wisdom is the associate of justice. It assists her to form equal laws, to pursue right measures, to correct power, protect weakness, and to unite individuals in a common interest and general wel. fare. Heroes may kill tyrants ; but it is wisdom and laws that prevent tyranny and oppression.. The operations of policy far surpass the labours of Hercules, preventing many evils which valour and might cannot even redress. You heroes regard nothing but glory; and scarcely consider whether the conquests which raise your fame, are really beneficial to your country. Unhappy are the people who are governed by valour not directed by prudence, and not mitigated by the gentle arts !
Her. I do not expect to find an admirer of my strenuous life, in the man who taught his countrymen to sit still and read; and to lose the hours of youth and action in idle speculation and the sport of words.
Cad. An ambition to have a place in the registers of fame, is the Eurystheus which imposes heroic labours on mankind. The Muses incite to action, as well as entertain the hours of repose; and I think you should honour them for presenting
to heroes such a noble recreation, as may prevent their taking up the distaff, when they lay down the club.
Her. Wits as well as heroes can take up the distaff. What think you of their thin-spun systems of philosophy, or lascivious poems, or Milesian fables: Nay, what is still worse, are there not panegyrics on tyrants, and books that blaspheme the gods, and perplex the natural sense of right and wrong?-I believe if Eurystheus were to set me to work again, he would find me a worse task than any he imposed; he would make me read over a great library; and I would serve it as I did the Hydra, I would burn as I went on, that one chimera might not rise from another, to plague mankind. I should have valued myself more on clearing the library, than on cleansing the Augean stables,
Cad. It is in those libraries only that the memory of your labours exists. The heroes of Marathon, the patriots of Thermopylæ owe their fame to me. All the wise institutions of lawgivers, and all the doctrines of sages, had perished in the ear, like a dream related, if letters had not preserved them. O Hercules! it is not for the man who preferred virtue to pleasure, to be an enemy to the muses. Let Sardanapalus and the silken sons of luxury, who have wasted life in inglorious ease, despise the records of action, which bear no honourable testimony to their lives : but true merit, heroic virtue, should respect the sacred source of lasting honour.
Her. Indeed, if writers employed themselves only in recording the acts of great men, much might be said in their favour. But why do they trouble people with their meditations ? Can it be of any consequence to the world what an idle man has been thinking ?
Cad. Yes, it may. The most important and extensive advantages mankind enjoy, are greatly owing to men who have never quitted their closets. To them mankind are obliged for the facility and security of navigation. The invention of the compass has opened to them new worlds. The knowledge of the mechanical powers has enabled them to construct such wonderful machines, as perform what the united labour of millions, by the severest drudgery, could not accomplish. Agriculture too, the most useful of arts, has received its share of improvement from the same source. Poetry likewise is of excellent use, to enable the memory to retain with more ease, and to imprint with more energy upon the heart, precepts and examples of virtue. From the little root of a few letters, science has spread its branches over all nature, and raised its head to the heavens. Some philosophers have entered so far into the counsels of Divine Wisdom, as to explain much of the great operations of nature. The dimensions and distances of the planets, the causes of their revolutions, the path of comets, and the ebbing and flowing of tides, are understood and explained. Can anything raise the glory of the human species more, than to see a little creature, inhabiting a small spot, amidst innumerable worlds, taking a survey of the universe, comprehending its arrangement, and entering into the scheme of that wonderful connection and correspondence of things so remote, and which it seems a great exertion of Onnipotence to have established? What a volume of wisdom, wbat a noble theology do these discoveries open to us! While some superioux geniuses have soared to these sublime subjects, other sagacious and diligent minds have been inquiring into the most minute works of the Infinite Artificer: the same care, the same providence is exerted through the whole, and we should learn from it, that, to true wisdom, utility and fitness appear perfection, and whatever is beneficial is noble.
Her. I approve of science as far as it is assistant to action. I like the improvement of navigation, and the discovery of the greater part of the globe, because it opens a wider field for the master spirits of the world to bustle in.
Cad. There spoke the soul of Hercules. But if learned men are to be esteemed for the assistance they give to active minds in their schemes, they are not less to be valued for their endeavours to give them a right direction, and moderate their too great ardour. The study of history will teach the legislator by what means states have become powerful; and in the private citizen, they will inculcate the love of liberty and order. The writings of sages point out a private path of virtue; and show that the best empire is self-government, and that subduing our passions is the noblest of conquests.
Her. The true spirit of heroism acts by a generous impulse, and wants neither the experience of history, nor the doctrines of philosophers to direct it. But do not arts and sciences render