Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

cessary for man, being a school for improving every manly virtue ; and Providence renders kings blind to their true in

terest,

“ sustains the loss of as many of his old subjects as he “ acquires new, weakens in fact his power while he « aims at strengthening it: he increases the territory “ to be defended, while the number of defenders is not “ increased. Who does not know, that in the modern “ manner of making war, the greatest depopulation is “ not from the havock made in the armies? That in“ deed is the obvious and apparent destruction ; but " there is, at the same time, in the state a loss much “ more severe and irreparable ; not that thousands are “ cut off, but that thousands are not born : population

is wounded by the increase of taxes, by the interrup“ tion of commerce, by the desertion of the country, “and by the fagnation of agriculture : the misfortune " which is overlooked at first, is severely felt in the e“ vent; and it is then that we are astonished to find “ we have been growing weak, while increasing our “ power. What renders every new conquest ftill the « less valuable, is the confideration of the possibility of “ doubling and tripling a nation's power, without ex« tending its territory, nay, even by diminishing it, “ The Emperor Adrian knew this, and wisely practi. • fed it. The numbers of the subjects are the strength “ of the prince : and a consequence of what I have « faid is this proposition, That of two states equal in 6 the number of inhabitants, that is in reality the 66 more powerful which occupies the smaller territory. “ It is by good laws, by a falutary police, and great " oeconomical schemes, that a wise sovereign gains a “ sure augmentation of strength, without trusting any 5 thing to the fortune of his arms."

tereft, in order that war may sometimes take place. To rely upon Providence in the government of this world, is the wifdom of man.

Upon the whole, perpetual war is bad, because it converts men into beasts of prey : perpetual peace is worse, because it converts men into beasts of burden. To prevent such woful degeneracy on both hands, war and peace alternately are the only effectual means; and these means are adopted by Providence.

SKETCH

S K E TCH VII.

Rise and Fall of Patriotism.

THE members of a tribe in their ori

1 ginal state of hunting and fishing, being little united but by a common language, have no notion of a patria ; and scarce any notion of society, unless when they join in an expedition against an enemy, or against wild beasts. The shepherdftate, where flocks and herds are poffefed in common, gives a clear notion of a common interest ; but still none of a patria. The sense of a patria begins to unfold itself, when a people leave off wandering, to settle upon a territory that they call their own. Agriculture connects them together ; and government still more : they become fellow-citizens; and the territory is termed the patria of every person born in it. It is so ordered by Providence, that a man's country and his countrymen, are to him in conjunction an object of a peculiar affection, termed amor patriae, or

patriotism; patriotism; an affection that rises high among a people intimately connected by regular government, by husbandry, by commerce, and by a common interest. “ Cari sunt parentes, cari liberi, propin“ qui, familiares ; fed omnes omnium “ caritates patria una complexa eft : pro “ qua quis bonus dubitet mortem oppe" tere *}"

In a man of a solitary disposition who avoids society, patriotism cannot abound. He may possibly have no hatred to his countrymen ; but, were he desirous to see them happy, he would live among them, and put himself in the way of doing good.

The affection a man has for the place where he was bred, ought to be distinguished from patriotism, being a passion far inferior, and chiefly visible in the low people. A rustic has few ideas but of external sense : his hut, his wife, his children, the hills, trees, and rivulets around him,

.“ Our parents are dear to us; so are our chil. ço dren, our relations, and our friends : all these our o country comprebends; and shall we fear to die for f our country?"

compose

compose the train of his ideas. Remove him from these objects, and he finds a dismal vacuity in his mind. History, poetry, and other subjects of literature, have no relation to time nor place. Horace is relished in a foreign country as at home : the pleasures of conversation depend on persons, not on place.

Social passions and affe&tions, beside being much more agreeable than selfish, are those only which command our esteem (a). Patriotism stands at the head of social affections; and stands so high in our esteem, that no actions but what proceed from it are termed grand or heroic. When that affection appears so agreeable in contemplation, how glowing, how elevating, must it be in those whom it inspires ! Like vigorous health, it beats constantly with an equal pulse : like the vestal fire, it never is extinguished. No source of enjoyment is more plentiful than patriotism, where it is the ruling passion : it triumphs over every selfish motive, and is a firm support to every virtue. In fact, where-ever it prevails, the morals

(a) Elements of Criticism, vol. 1. p. 113. edit. 5.

of

« AnteriorContinuar »