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nefs, their infufficiency to make him happy, that he proclaimed a reward to the man, who should invent a new delight. The reward indeed was proclaimed, but the delight was not to be found. If by delight, faid he, you mean fome good; fomething conducing to real happiness; it might have been found perhaps, and yet not hit the monarch's fancy. Is that, faid I, poffible? It is poffible, replied he, though it had been the fovereign good itself. And indeed what wonder? Is it probable that fuch a mortal as an eaftern monarch; fuch a pampered, flattered, idle mortal, fhould have attention, or capacity for a fubject fo delicate? A fubject, enough to exercise the fubtleft and most acute ?
WHAT then is it you efteem, said I, the fovereign good to be? It should feem, by your representation, to be fomething very uncommon. Afk me not the queftion, faid he, you know not where it will carry us. Its general idea indeed is eafy and plain; but the detail of particulars is perplexed and long; paffions and opinions for ever thwart us; a paradox appears in almoft every advance. Befides, did our inquiries fucceed ever fo happily, the very subject itself is always enough to give me pain. That, replied I, feems a paradox indeed. It is not, faid he, from any prejudice, which I have conceived against it; for to man I esteem it the nobleft in the world. Nor is it for being a fubject, to which my genius does not lead me; for no fubject at all times has more employed my attention. But the truth is, I can scarce ever think of it, but an unlucky story ftill occurs to my mind." A certain ftar-gazer, with his telescope was
once viewing the moon; and describing her feas,her moun"tains, and her territories. Says a clown to his compani"on, Let him fpy what he pleases; we are as near to the 65 moon, as he and all his brethren." So fares it, alas!
with these our moral fpeculations. Practice too often creeps, where theory can foar. The philofopher proves as weak, as thofe whom he moft contemns. A mortifying thought to fuch as well attend it. Too mortifying, replied I, to be long dwelt on. Give us rather your general idea of the fovereign good. This is eafy from your own account, however intricate the detail.
THUS then, faid he, fince you are fo urgent, it is thus that I conceive it. The Sovereign Good is that, the poffeffion of which renders us happy. And how, faid I, do we poffefs it? Is it fenfual, or intellectual? There you are entering, faid he, upon the detail. This is beyond your queftion. Not a small advance, faid I, to indulge poor curiofity? Will you raise me a thirst, and be so cruel not to allay it? It is not, replied he, of my raising, but your own. Befides I am not certain, fhould I attempt to proceed, whether you will admit fuch authorities as it is poffible may vouch. That, said I, must be determined by their weight and character. Suppofe, faid he, it fhould be mankind; the whole human race. Would you not think it fomething ftrange, to feek of those concerning Good, who purfue it a thousand ways, and many of them contradictory? I confefs, faid I, it feems fo. And yet, continued he, were there a point, in which fuch diffentients ever agreed, this agreement would be no mean argument in favour of its truth and juftnefs. But where, replied I, is this agreement
to be found?
He answered me by asking, what if it should appear, that there were certain original characteristics and preconceptions of good, which were natural, uniform and common to all men ; which all recognized in their various pursuits; and that the difference lay only in the applying them to particulars?
ticulars? This requires, faid I, to be illuftrated. continued he, a company of travellers, in fome wide forest, were all intending for one city, but each by a rout peculiar to himself. The roads indeed would be various, and many perhaps false; but all who travelled, would have one end in view. It is evident, faid I, they would. So fares it then, added he, with mankind in the purfuit of good. The ways indeed are many, but what they seek is one.
FOR inftance: Did you ever hear of any, who in pursuit of their good were for living the life of a bird, an infect, or a fish. None. And why not? It would be inconfiftent, answered 1, with their nature. You see then, said he, they all agree in this; that what they purfue, ought to be confiftent, and agreeable to their proper nature. So ought it, faid I, undoubtedly. If fo, continued he, one pre-conception is discovered, which is common to good in general: It is, that all good is supposed something agreeable to nature. This indeed, replied I, feems to be agreed on all hands.
BUT again, faid he, Is there a man scarcely to be found of a temper fo truly mortified, as to acquiefce in the lowest, and shortest neceffaries of life? Who aims not, if he be able, at fomething farther, something better? I replied scarcely one. Do not multitudes pursue, said he, infinite objects of defire, acknowledged, every one of them, to be in no respect neceffaries? Exquifite viands, delicious wines, fplendid apparel, curious gardens; magnificent apartments adorned with pictures and sculptures; mufic and poetry, and the whole tribe of elegant arts? It is evident, faid I. If it be, continued he, it should seem that they all confidered the Chief or Sovereign Good, not to be that, which conduces to bare existence or mere being; for to this the neceffaries alone are adequate. I replied they were. But if not this, it must
be fomewhat conducive to that, which is fuperior to mere being. It muft. And what, continued he, can this be, but well-being, under the various fhapes, in which different opinions paint it? Or can you fuggeft any thing else? I replied, I could not. Mark here, then, continued he, another pre-conception, in which they all agree; the Sovereign Good is fomewhat conducive, not to mere being, but to well-being. I replied, it had so appeared.
AGAIN, continued he. What labour, what expence, to procure those rarities, which our own poor country is unable to afford us! How is the world ranfacked to its utmost verges, and luxury and arts imported from every quarter! Nay more How do we baffle nature herfelf; invert her order; feek the vegetables of fpring in the rigours of winter, and winter's ice during the heats of fummer! I replied, we did. And what difappointment, what remorse, when endeavours fail? It is true. If this then be evident, faid he, it would feem, that whatever we defire as our Chief and Sovereign Good, is fomething which, as far as poffible, we would accommodate to all places and times. I anfwered, So it appeared. See then, faid he, another of its characteristics, another pre-conception.
BUT farther ftill; What contefts for wealth! What fcrambling for property! What perils in the purfuit! What folicitude in the maintenance! And why all this? To what purpofe, what end? Or is not the reason plain? Is it not that wealth may continually procure us, whatever we fancy good; and make that perpetual, which would otherwife be tranfient? I replied, it seemed fo. Is it not farther defired, as fupplying us from ourselves; when without it, we must be beholden to the benevolence of others, and
depend on their caprice for all that we enjoy? It is true, faid I, this feems a reafon.
AGAIN Is not power of every degree as much contested
for as wealth? Are not magiftracies, honours, principalities, and empire, the subjects of strife and everlasting contention? I replied, They were. And why, faid he, this? To obtain what end? Is it not to help us, like wealth, to the poffeffion of what we defire? Is it not farther to ascertain, to secure our enjoyments; that when others would deprive us, we may be ftrong enough to refift them? I replied, it was.
OR to invert the whole; Why are there, who feek receffes the most distant and retired; flee courts and power, and fubmit to parfimony and obfcurity? Why all this, but from the fame intention? From an opinion that small poffeffions, ufed moderately, are permanent; that larger poffeffions raise envy, and are more frequently invaded; that the fafety of power and dignity is more precarious, than that of retreat; and that therefore they have chosen, what is moft eligible upon the whole? It is not, faid I, improbable, that they act by fome fuch motive.
Do you not fee then, continued he, two or three more pre-conceptions of the Sovereign Good, which are fought for by all, as effential to constitute it? And what, said I, are these? That it fhould not be tranfient, nor derived from the will of others, nor in their power to take away; but be durable, felf-derived, and (if I may use the expreffion) indeprivable. I confefs, faid I, it appears fo. But we have already found it to be confidered, as fomething 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.