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Full text of "Constitution of man; Essays on decision of character; Philosophy of sleep and Anatomy of drunkenness; Influence of literature upon society; Treatise on self-knowledge"

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CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 

BY GEORGE COMBE, ESQ. 

ESSAYS ON DECISION OF CHARACTER, &o. 

BY" JOHN FOSTER, ESQ. 



PHILOSOPHY OF SLEEP, AND ANATOMY 
OF DRUNKENNESS. 

BY ROBERT MACNISH, ESQ. 



INFLUENCE OF LITERATURE UPON 
^ SOCIETY, &c. 

BY MADAME DE STAEL. 



. A TB'EATISE ON SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 

JUL 1 ^'Ty9^ 

?-:->• :; BY JOHN MASON, A. M. 



J 



m&M'dmM,^^-^'^^^^^ 



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HARTFORD: 

PUBLISHED BY SILAS ANDRUS & SON. 
1854. 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN 



C0N8IDEKED IN 



RELATION TO EXTERNAL OBJECTS. 



GEORGE COMBE. 



Vain IS the ridicule with which one sees some persons will divert themselves, 
npnii finding lesser pains considered as instances of divine punishment. There ia 
no possibility of ansv/eriiig or evading the general thing here intended, without 
denying all final causes. — Butler's Analogy. 



) 



'ikLEXANDRIAN EDITION. 



41096 



HARTFORD: 

PUBLISHED BY SILAS ANDRUS & SON. 
1854. 



PREFACE 



TO THE EDINBURGH EDITION. 



This Essay would not have been presented to the 
public, had I not believed that it contains views of the 
constitution, condition, and prospects of Man, which 
deser\-e attention ; but these, I trust, are not ushered 
forth with any thing approaching to a presumptuous 
spu-it. I lay no claim to originality of conception. 
My first notion of the natural laws were derived from 
an unpublished manuscript of Dr Spuezheim, with the 
perusal of which I wa-s honoured some years ago ; and 
all my inquiries and meditations since have impressed 
me more and more with a conviction of their impor- 
tance. The materials employed lie open to all. Taken 
separately, I would hardly say that a new truth has 
been presented in the following work. The parts have 
all been admitted and employed again and again, by 
writers on morals, from Socrates down to the present 
day. In this respect, there is nothing new under the 
sun. The only novelty in this Essay respects the rela- 
tions which acknowledged truths hold to each other. 
Physical laws of nature, affecting our physical condi- 
tion, as well as regulating the whole material system 
of the universe, are universally acknowledged, and 
constitute the elements of natural philosophy and che- 
mical science. Physiologists, medical practitioners, 
and all who take medical aid, admit the existence of 
organic laws ; and the science of government, legisla- 
tion, education, indeed our whole train of conduct 
through life, proceed upon the admission of laws in 
morals. Accordingly, the laws of nature have formed 
an interesting subject of inquiry to philosophers of all 
ages ; but, so far as I am aware, no author has hitherto 
attempted tu point out, in a combined and systematic 
form, the relations between these laws and the constitu- 
tion of Man ; which must, nevertheless, be done, be- 
fore our knowledge of them can be beneficially applied. 
The great object of the following Essay is to exhibit 
these relations, with a view to the improvement of edu- 
cation, and the regulation of individual conduct. 

Edinburgh, 9th Juno. 1R23 



But, although my purpose is practical, a theory of 
Mind forms an essential element in the execution of 
the plan. Without it, no comparison can be instituted 
between the natural constitution of man and external 
objects. Phrenology appears to me to be the clearest, 
most complete, and best supported system of Human 
Nature, which has hitherto been taught ; and I have 
assumed it as the basis of this Essay. But the practi- 
cal value of the views now to be unfolded does not 
depend on Phrenology. This theory of Mind itself is 
valuable, only in so far as it is a just exposition of what 
previously existed in human nature. We are physical, 
organic, and moral beings, acting under the sanction 
of general laws, let the merits of Phrenology be what 
they may. Individuals will, under the impulse of pas 
sion, or by the direction of intellect, hope, fear, won- 
der, perceive, and act, whether the degree in which 
they habitually do so, be ascertainable on phrenological 
principles or not. In so far, therefore, as this Essay 
treats of the known qualities of Man, it may be instruc- 
tive even to those who contemn Phrenology as un- 
founded ; while it can prove useful to no one, if it 
shall depart from the true elements of mental philoso- 
phy, by whatever system these may be expounded. 

I have endeavoured to avoid all religious controversy. 
'The object of Moral Philosophy,' says Mr Stewart, 
' is to ascertain the general rules of a wise and virtuous 
conduct in life, in so far as these rules may be disco- 
vered by the unassisted light of nature ; that w by an 
examination of the principles of the human constitu- 
tion, and of the circumstances in which man is placed.'* 
By following this method of inquiry, Dr Hutcheson, 
Dr Adam Smith, Dr Reid, Mr Stewart, and Dr 
Thomas Brown, have, in succession, produced highly 
interesting and instructive works on Moral Science; 
and the present Essay is a humble attempt to pursue 
the same plan, with the aid of the new lights afforded 
by phrenology. 

* Outlines of Moral Philosophy, p. 1. 



ESSAY 



THE CONSTITUTION OF MAN, 



AND ITS RELATIONS TO EXTERNAL OBJECTS. 



CHAPTER I. 



ON NATURAL LAWS. 



A STATEMENT of the evidence of a great intelligent 
First Cause is given in the ' Phrenological Journal,' 
and in the ' System of Phrenology.' I hold this exist- 
ence as capable of demonstration. By Nature, I mean 
the workmanship of this great Being, such as it is re- 
vealed to our minds by our senses and faculties. 

In natural science, three subjects of inquiry may be 
distinguished. 1st. What exists 1 2dly. What is the 
purjiose or design of what exists ; and, 3dly. Why was 
what exists designed for such uses as it evidently 
subserves 1 For example, — It is a matter of fact that 
arctic regions and torrid zones exist, — that a certain 
kind of moss is most abundant in Lapland in mid-win- 
ter, — that the rein-deer feeds on it, and enjoys high 
health and vigor in situations where most other animals 
would die ; farther, it is a matter of fact that camels exist 
in Africa ; that they have broad hoofs, and stomachs 
fitted to retain water for a length of time, and that they 
flourish amid arid tracts of sand, where the rein-deer 
would not live for a day. All this fails under the in- 
quiry. What exists 1 But in contemplating the fore- 
going facts, it is impossible not to infer that one object 
of the Lapland moss is to feed the rein-deer, and one 
puipose of the deer is to assist man : and that, in like 
manner, broad feet have been given to the camel to 
enable it to walk on sand, and a retentive stomach to 
fit it for arid places in which water is not found except 
at wide intervals. These are inquiries into the use or 
pui-pose of what exists. In like manner, we may in- 
quire. What purpose do sandy deserts and desolate 
heaths subserve in the economy of nature 1 In short, 
an inquiry into the use or purpose of any object that 
exists, is merely an examination of its relations to other 
objects and beings, and of the modes in which it affects 
them; and this is quite a legitimate exercise of the 
human intellect. But, 3dly, we may ask, why were 
the physical elements of nature created such as they 
are 1 Why we're summer, autumn, spring, and winter 
introduced '! Why were animals formed of organized 
matter 1 These are inquiries why what exists was 
made such as it is, or into the will of the Deity in crea- 
tion. Now, man's perceptive faculties are adequate to 
the first inquiry, and his reflective faculties to the 
second ; but it may well be doubted whether he has 
powers suited to the third. My investigations are con- 
fined to the first and second, and I do not discuss the 
third. 

A law. in the common acceptation, denotes a rule of 
action ; its existence indicates an estabhshcd and con- 
stant mode, or process, according to v/hich plienomena 
take place ; and this is the sense in which I shall use 
it, when treating of physical substances and beings. 
For example, water and heat are substances ; and wa- 
ter presents different appearances, and manifests cer- 
tain qualit.es, according to the altitude of its situation, 
and the degree of heat with which it is cosnbined. 
When at the level of the sea, and combined with that 
portion of heat indicated by 33" of Fahrenheit's 
Uieimometcr, it freezes o; becomes solid ; when 



combined with the portion denoted by 212° of that in- 
strument, it rises into vapour or steam. Here water 
and heat are the substances, — the freezing and rising 
in vapour are the appearances or phenomena presented 
by them ; and when we say that these take place ac- 
cording to a Law of Nature, we mean only that these 
modes of action appear, to our intellects, to be estab- 
lished in the very constitution of the water and heat, 
and in their natural relationship to each other ; and that 
the processes of freezing and rising in vapour are their 
constant appearances, when combined in these propor- 
tions, other conditions being the same. 

The ideas chiefly to be kept in view are, 1st. That 
all substances and beings have received a definite natu- 
ral constitution ; 2dly. That every mode of action, 
which is said to take place according to a natural law, 
is inherent in the constitution of the substance, or 
being, that acts ; and, 3dly. That the mode of action 
described is universal and invariable, wherever and 
whenever the substances, or beings, are found in the 
same condition. For example, water, at the level of 
the sea, freezes and boils, at the same temperature, in 
China and in France, in Peru and in England ; and 
there is no exception to the regularity with which it 
exhibits these appearances, when all its conditions are 
the same : For cceteris ■paribus is a condition which per- 
vades all departments of science, phrenology included. 
If water be carried to the top of a mountain 20,000 
feet high, it boils at a lovv^er temperature than 212'', 
but this again depends on its relationship to the air, 
and takes place also according to fixed and invariable 
principles. The air exerts a great pressure on the wa- 
ter. At the level of the sea the pressure is nearly the 
same in all quarters of the globe, and in that situation 
the freezing points and boiling points correspond all 
over the world ; but on the top of a high mountain the 
pressure is much less, and the vapour not being held 
down by so great a power of resistance, rises at a lower 
degree of heat than 212**. But this change of appear- 
ances does not indicate a change in the constitution of 
the v^ater and the heat, but only a variation of the cir- 
cumstances in which they are placed ; and hence it is 
not correct to say, that water boiling on the tops of 
high mountains, at a lower temperature than 212°, is 
an exception to the general law of nature : there never 
are exceptions to the laws of nature ; for the Creator 
is too wise and too powerful to make imperfect or in- 
consistent arrangements. The error is in the human 
mind inferring the law to be, that water boils at 212'' 
in all altitudes ; when the real law is only that it boils 
at that temperature, at the level of the sea, in all coun- 
tries ; and that it boils at a lower temperature, the 
liigher it is carried, because there the pressure of the 
atmosphere is diminished. 

InteUigent beings exist, and are capable of modify- 
ing their actions. By means of their faculties, the 
laws impressed by the Creator on physical substances 
become known to them ; and, when perceived, consti- 
tute lavi's to them, by which to regulate their conduct. 
For example, it is a pljysical law, that boiling water 
destroys the iri':?cu!ar and nervous systems of man. 
This is the resuit purely of the constitution of the 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



body, and the relation between it and heat ; and man 
cannot alter or suspend that law. But whenever the 
human intellect perceives the relation, and the conse- 
quences of violating it, the mind is prompted to avoid 
infringement, in order to shun the torture attached by 
the Creator to the decomposition of the human body 
by heat. 

Similar views have long been taught by philosophers 
and divines. Bishop Butler, in particular, says : - 
'An Author of Nature being supposed, it is not so 
much a deduction of reason as a matter of experience, 
that we are thus under his government, in the same 
sense as we are under the government of civil magis- 
trates. Because the anne'>'"ing pleasure to some ac- 
tions, and pain to others, in our power to do or forbear, 
and giving notice of this appointment beforehand to 
those whom it concerns, is the proper formal notion of 
government. Whether the pleasure or pain which 
thus follows upon our behaviour, be owing to the 
Author of Nature's acting upon us every moment 
which we feel it, or to his having at once contrived 
and executed his own part in the plan of the world, 
makes no alteration as to the matter before us. For, 
if civil magistrates could make the sanctions of their 
laws take place, without interposing at all, after they 
had passed them, without a trial, and the formalities 
of an execution ; if they were able to make their laws 
execute themselves, or every offender to execute them 
upon himself, we should be just in the same sense un- 
der their government then as we are now ; but in a 
much higher degree and more perfect manner. Vain 
is the ridicule ivith ivhich one sees some persons ivill 
divert themselves, upon finding lesser pains consid- 
ered AS INSTANCES OF DIVINE PUNISHMENT. ThERE 

IS NO POSSIBILITY OF ANSWERING OR EVADING the ge- 
neral thing here intended, without denying all final 
CAUSES. For, final causes being admitted, the plea- 
sures and pains now mentioned must be admitted too, 
as instances of them. And if they are, if God annexes 
delight to some actions, with an apparent design to in- 
duce us to act so and so, then he not only dispenses 
happmess and misery, but also rewards and punishes 
actions. If, for example, the pain ivhich we feel upon 
doing u-hat tends to the destruction of our bodies, sup- 
pose upon too near approaches to fire, or upon wound- 
ing ourselves, be appointed by the Author of Nature to 
prevent our douig what thus tends to our destruction ; 

this is ALTOGETHER AS MUCH AN INSTANCE OP HIS 

PUNISHING OUR ACTIONS, and consequently of our being 
under his government, as declaring, by a voice from 
Heaven, that, if we acted so, he would inflict such pain 
upon us, and inflict it whether it be greater or less.' * 

If. then, the reader keep in view that God is the 
creator ; that Nature, in the general sense, means the 
world which he has made ; and, in a more limited 
sense, the particular constitution which he has bestow- 
ed on any special object, of which we may be treating, 
and that a Law of Nature means the established mode 
in which that constitution acts, and the obligation 
thereby imposed on intelligent beings to attend to it, he 
will be in no danger of misunderstanding my meaning. 

Every n=>tural object has received a definite consti- 
tution, in 'vrtue of which it acts in a particular way. 
There must, therefore, be as many natural laws, as 
thero are distinct modes of action of substances and 
beings, viewed by themselves. But substances and 
beings stand in certain relations to each other, and mo- 
dify each other's action in an established and definite 
manner, according to that relationship ; iiltitude, for 
instance, modifies the effect of heat upon water. 
There must, therefore, be also as many laws of nature, 
as there are relations between different substances and 
beings. 

It is impossible, in the present state of knowledge, 

* Bi^tler's Wnrks, Vol. I, p. 44. SimilVr obscrviilions by 
Other autliors will Ise fuund in the AppenJix, No. I 



to elucidate all these laws : countless years may 
elapse before they shall be discovered ; but we may 
investigate some of the most familiar and striking of 
them. Tliuse that most readily present themselves 
bear reference to the great classes into which the ob- 
jects around us may be divided, namely. Physical, Or- 
ganic, and Intelligent. I shall therefore confine mv 
self to the physical laws, the organic laws, and the 
laws which characterise intelligent beings. 

1st. The Physical Laws embrace all the phenomena 
of mere matter ; a heavy body, for instance, wnen un- 
supported, falls to the ground with a certain accelerat- 
ing force, in proportion to the distance which it falls, 
and its own density ; and this motion is said to take 
place according to the law of gravitation. An acid 
applied to a vegetable blue colour, converts it into red, 
and this is said to take place according to a chemical 
law. 

2dly. Organized substances and beings stand higher 
in the scale of creation, and have properties peculiar 
to themselves. They act, and are acted upon, in con- 
formity with their constitution, and are therefore said 
to be subject to a peculiar set of laws, termed the Or- 
ganic. , The distinguishing characteristic of this class 
of objects, is, that the individuals of them derive their 
existence from other organized beings, are nourished 
by food, and go through a regular process of growth 
and decay. Vegetables and Animals are the two great 
subdivisions of it. The organic laws are different from 
the merely physical. A stone, for example, does not 
spring from a parent stone ; it does not take food from 
its parent, the earth, or air ; it does not increase in 
vigor for a time, and then decay and suffer dissolution, 
all which processes characterize vegetables and ani- 
mals. The organic laws are superior to the merely 
physical. For example, a living man, or animal, may 
be placed in an oven, along with the carcass of a dead 
animal, and remain exposed to a heat, which will com- 
pletely bake the dead flesh, and yet come out alive, 
and not seriously injured. The dead flesh is mere 
physical matter, and its decomposition by the heat in- 
stantly commences ; but the living animal is able, by 
its organic qualities, to counteract and resist to a cer- 
tain extent, that influence. The expression Organic 
Laws, therefore, indicates that every phenomenon con- 
nected with the production, health, growth, decay, and 
death of vegetables and animals, takes place with un- 
deviating regularity, whenever circumstances are the 
same. Animals are the chief objects of my present 
obsei"vations. 

3dly. Intelligent beings stand still higher in the scale 
than merely organized matter, and embrace all animals 
that have distinct consciousness, from the lowest of 
the inferior creatures up to man. The great divisions 
of this class are into Intelligent and Animal — and into 
Intelligent and Moral creatures. The dog, horse, and 
elephant, for instance, belong to the first class^ because 
they possess some degree of intelligence, and certain 
animal propensities, but no moral feelings ; man be- 
longs to the second, because he possesses all the three 
These various faculties have received a definite coasti 
tution from the Creator, and stand in deterfninate rela 
tionship to external objects : for example, a healthy 
palate cannot feel wormwood sweet, nor sugar bitter : 
a healthy eye cannot see a rod partly plunged m water 
straight, because the water so modifies the rays of 
light, as to give to the stick the appearance of being 
crooked ; a healthy Benevolence cannot feel gratified 
with murder, nor a healthy Conscientiousness with 
fraud. As, therefore, the mental faculties have re- 
ceived a precise constitution, have been placed in fixed 
and definite relations to external objects, and act regu- 
larly, we speak of their acting according to rules or 
laws, and call these the Moral and Intellectual Laws. ^ 

In short, the expression ' laws of nature.' when pro- 
perly used, signifies the rules of action impressed on 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



.objects and beings by their natural constitution. Thus, 
when we say, that by the physical law, a ship sinks 
when a plank starts from her side, we mean, that, by 
the constitution of the ship, and the water, and the re- 
lation subsisting between them, the ship sinks when 
the plank starts. 

Several imj ;rtant principles strike us very early in 
attending to the natural laws, viz. 1st. Their indepen- 
dence of each other ; 2dly. Obedience to each of them 
is attended with its own reward, and disobedience with 
its own punishment ; 3dly. They are universal, un- 
bending, and invariable in their operation ; 4thly. They 
are in harmony with the constitution of man. 

1. The independence of the natural laws may be 
illustrated thus ; — A ship floats because a part of it 
being immersed, displaces a weight of waj;er equal to 
its whole weight, leaving the remaining part above the 
fluid. A ship, therefore, will float on the surface of 
the water as long as these physical conditions are ob- 
served ; no matter although the men in it should irj- 
fringe other natural laws ; as, for example, although 
they should rob, murder, blaspheme, and commit every 
species of debauchery ; and it will sink whenever the 
physical conditions are subverted, however strictly the 
crew and passengers may obey the other laws here ad- 
verted to. In like manner^ a man who swallows poi- 
son, which destroys the stomach or intestines, will die, 
just because an organic law has been infringed, and 
because it is independent of others, although the man 
should have taken the drug by mistake, or been the 
most pious and charitable individual on earth. Or, 
thirdly, a man may cheat, lie, steal, tyrannise, and in 
short break a great variety of the moral laws, and 
nevertheless be fat and rubicund, if he sedulously ob^ 
serve the organic laws of temperance and exercis* 
wliich determine the condition of the body ; while, on 
the other hand, an individual who neglects these, may 
pine in disease, and be racked with tojturing pains, al- 
though at the very moment, he may be devoting his 
mind to the highest duties of humanity. 

2. Obedience to each law is attended with its own 
reward, and disobedience with its own punishment. 
Thus the mariners who preserve their ship in accord- 
ance with the physical laws, reap the reward of sailing 
in safety ; and those who permit its departure from 
them, are punished by the ship sinking. Those who 
obey the moral law, enjoy the intense internal delights 
that spring from active moral faculties ; they render 
themselves, moreover, objects of affection and esteem 
to moral and intelligent beings, who, in consequence, 
confer on them many other gratifications. Those who 
disobey that law, are tormented with insatiable desires, 
which, from the nature of thmgs, cannot be gratified ; 
they are punished by the perpetual craving of whatever 
portion of moral sentiment they possess, for higher en- 
joyments, which are never attained ; and they are ob- 
jects of dislike and malevolence to other beings in the 
same condition as themselves, who inflict on them the 
evils dictated by their own provoked propensities. 
Those who obey the organic laws, reap the reward of 
health and vigour of body, and buoyancy of mind ; 
those who break them are punished by sickness, fee- 
bleness, and languor. 

3. The natural laws are universal, invariable, and 
unbending. When the physical laws are subverted in 
China or Kamschatka, there is no instance of a ship 
floating there more than in England ; and when they 
are observed, there is no instance of' a vessel sinking 
in any one of these countries more than in another. 
There is no example of men, in any country, enjoying 
the mild and generous internal joys, and the outward 
esteem and love that attend obedience to the moral 
law, while they give themselves up to the dominion of 
brutal propensities. There is no example, in any lati- 
tude or longitude, or in any age, of men who entered 
biie with a constitution in perfect harmony with the or- 



ganic laws, and who continued to obey these laws 
throughout, being, in consequence of this obedience, 
visited with pain and disease ; and there are no 
instances of men who were born with constitutions at 
variance with the organic laws, and who lived in ha/- 
bitual disobedience to them, enjoying that sound health 
and vigour of body, that are the rewards of obedience, 

4. The natural laws are in harmony with the whole 
constitution of man, the moral and intellectual powers 
being supreme. For example, if ships had sunk when 
they were in accordance with the physical law, this 
would have outraged the perceptions of Causality, and 
offended Benevolence and Justice ; but as they float, 
the physical is, in this instance, in harmony with the 
moral and iritellectual law. If men who rioted in 
drunkenness and debauchery, had thereby established 
health and increased their happiness, this, again, would 
have been in discord with our intellectual and moral 
perceptions ; but the opposite result is in harmony 
with them. 

It will be subsequently shown, that our moral senti- 
ments desire universal happiness. If the physical and 
organic laws are constituted in harmony with them, it 
ought to follow that the natural laws, when obeyed, 
conduce to the happiness of moral and intelligent be- 
ings, who are called on to observe them ; and that the 
evil consequences or punishments resulting from diso- 
bedience, are calculated to enforce stricter attention and 
obedience to the laws, that these beings may escape from 
the miseries of infringement, and return to the advantages 
of observance. For example, according to this view, 
when a ship sinks, in consequence of a plank starting, 
the punishment ought to impress upon the spectators 
the absolute necessity of having every plank secure 
and strong before going to sea again, a condition indis- 
pensable to their safety. When sickness and pain fol- 
low a debauch, they serve to urge a more scrupulous 
obedience to the organic laws, that the individual may 
escape death, which is the inevitable consequence of 
too great and continued disobedience to these laws, 
and enjoy health, which is tlic reward of opposite con- 
duct. When discontent, irritation, hatred, and other 
mental annoyances, arise out of infringement of the 
moral law, this punishment is calculated to induce the 
offender to return to obedience, that he may enjoy the 
rewards attached to it. 

When the transgression of any natural law is exces- 
sive, and so great that return to obedience is impossi- 
ble, one purpose of death, which then ensues, may be 
to deliver the individual from a continuation of the 
punishment which could then do him no good. Thus, 
when, from infringement of a physical law, a ship sinks 
at sea, and leaves men immersed in water, without the 
possibility of reaching land, their continued existence 
'in that state would be one of cruel and protracted suf- 
fering ; and it is advantageous to them to have their 
mortal life extinguished at once by drowning, thereby 
withdrawing tbem from further agony. In like man- 
ner, if a man in the vigour of life, so far infringe any 
organic law as to destroy the functirti of a vital organ, 
the heart, for instance, or the lungs, or the brain, it is 
better for him to have his life cut short, and his pain 
put an end to, than to have it protracted under all the 
tortures of an organic existence without lungs, without 
a heart, or without a brain, if such a state were possi- 
ble, which, for this wise reason, it is not. 

• I do not intend to predicate any thing concerning the 
perfectibility of man by obedience to the laws of nature. 
The system of sublunary creation, so far as we per^- 
ceive it, does not appear to be one of optimism ; yet 
benevolent design, in its constitution, is undeniable. 
Paley says, ' Nothing remains but the first supposi- 
tion, that God, when he created the human species, 
wished them happiness, and made for them the provi- 
sions which he has made, with that 'view and for that 
purpose. The same argument may be proposed ia 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



different terms : Contrivance proves design ; and the 
predominant tendency of the contrivance indicates the 
disposition of the designer. The world abounds with 
tontrivances ; and ALL THE CONTRIVANCES 
ichich we are acquainted with, are directed to beneficial 
purposes.' Paley's Mor. Phil. Edinb. 1816, p. 51. 
My object is to discover as many of the contrivances 
of the Creator, for effecting beneficial purposes, as 
possible ; and to point out in what manner, by accom- 
modating our conduct to these contrivances, we may 
lessen our misery and increase our happiness. 

I do not intend to teach that the natural laws, dis- 
temible by unassisted reason, are sufficient for the 
salvation of man without revelation. Human interests 
regard this world and the next. To enjoy this world, 
I humbly maintain, that man must discover and obey 
the natural laws ; for example, to ensure health to off- 
spring, the parents must be healthy, and the children 
after birth must be treated in conformity to the organic 
kws ; to fit them for usefulness in society, they must 
be instructed in their own constitution, — in that of ex- 
ternal objects and beings, and taught to act rationally 
in reference to these. Revelation does not commu- 
nicate complete or scientific information concerning 
the best mode of pursuing even our legitimate tempo- 
ral interests, probably because faculties have been 
given to man to discover arts, sciences, and the natu- 
ral laws, and to adapt his conduct to them. The phy- 
sical, moral, and intellectual nature of man, is itself 
•open to investigation by our natural faculties ; and nu- 
merous practical duties' resulting from our constitution 
are discoverable, which are not treated of in detail in 
the inspired volume ; the mode of preserving health, 
for example ; of pursuing with success a temporal call- 
ing ; of discovering the qualities of men with whom 
we mean to associate our interests ; and many others. 
My object, I repeat, is to investigate the natural con- 
stitution of the human body and mind, their relations 
to external objects and beings in this world, and the 
■courses of action that, in consequence, appear to be 
beneficial or hurtful. 

Man's spiritual interests belong to the sphere of re- 
velation : and I distinctly declare, that I do not teach, 
Jhat obedience to the natural laws is sufficient for sal- 
vation in a future state. Revelation prescribes certain 
requisites for salvation, which may be divided into two 
xlasses ; first, faith or belief; and, secondly, the per- 
formance of certain practical duties, not as meritorious 
■cf salvation, but as the native result of that faith, and 
ie necessary evidence of its sincerity. The natural 
iaws form no guide as to faith ; but so far as I can per- 
ceive their dictates and those of revelation coincide 
in all matters relating to practical duties in temporal 
affairs. 

It may be asked, whether mere knoivledge of the na- 
tural laws is sufficient to insure observance of them 1 
Certainly not. Mere knowledge of music does not en- 
able one to play on an instrument, nor of anatomy 
to perform skilfully a surgical operation. Practical 
training, and the aid of every motive that can interest 
the feelings, are necessary to lead individuals to obey 
the natural laws. Religion, in particular, may furnish 
motives highly conducive to this obedience. But, it 
must never be forgotten, that although mere knowledge 
is not all-sufRcicnt, it is a primary and indispensable re- 
quisite to regular observance ; and that it is as impos- 
sible, effectually and systematically to obey the natural 
laws without knowing them, as it is to infringe them 
with impunity, although from ignorance of their exis- 
tence. Some persons are of opinion that Christianity 
«lone suffices, not only for man's salvation, which I do 
not dispute, but for his guidance in all practical vir- 
tues, without knowledge of, or obedience to, the \d.\\s 
of nature ; but from this notion I respectfully dissent. 
It appears to me, that one reason why vice and misery, 
in this world, do not diminish in proportion to preach- 



ing, is, because the natural laws are too much over^ 
looked, and very rarely considered as having any rela- 
tion to practical conduct. 

Connected with this subject, it is proper to state, 
that I do not maintain that the world is arranged on the 
principle of Benevolence exclusively : my idea is, that 
it is constituted in harmony with the whole faculties 
of man ; the moral sentiments and intellect holding 
the supremacy. What is meant by creation being con- 
stituted in harmony with the whole faculties of man.j^ 
is this. Suppose that we should see two men holding 
a third in a chair, and a fourth drawing a tooth from 
his head : — While we contemplated this bare act, and 
knew nothing of the intention with which it was done, 
and of the consequences that would follow, we would 
set it down as purely cruel ; and say, that, although it 
might be in harmony with Destructiveness, it could not 
be so with Benevolence. But, when we were told 
that the individual in the chair was a patient, the ope- ' 
rator a dentist, the two men his assistants, and that 
the object of all the parties was to deliver the first from 
violent torture, we would then perceive that Destruc- 
tiveness had been used as a means to accomplish a be- 
nevolent puipose ; or, in other words, that it had acted 
under the supremacy of moral sentiment and intellect, 
and we would approve of the transaction. If the 
world were created on the principle of Benevolence 
exclusively, no doubt the toothach could not exist ; 
but, as pain does exist, Destructiveness has been given 
to place men in harmony with it, when used for a be- 
nevolent end. 

To apply this illustration to the works of providence ; 
I humbly suggest it as probable, that if we knew tho- 
roughly the design and whole consequences of such 
institutions of the Creator, as are attended with pain, 
death, and disease, for example, we should find that 
Destructiveness was used as a means, under the gui- 
dance of Benevolence and Justice, to arrive at an end 
in harmony with the moral sentiments and intellect ; 
in short, that no institution of the Creator has pure 
evil, or destructiveness alone, for its object. In judg- 
ing of the divine institutions, the moral sentiments and 
intellect embrace the results of them to the race, while 
the propensities regard only the individual ; and as the 
former are the higher powers, their dictates are of su- 
preme authority in such questions. Farther , when the 
operations of these institutions are sufficiently under- 
stood, they will be acknowledged to be beneficial for 
the individual also ; although, when partially viewed, 
this may not at first appear to be the case. 

The opposite of this doctrine, viz. that there are in- 
stitutions of the Creator which have suffering for their 
exclusive object, is clearly untenable ; for this would 
be ascribing malevolence to the Deity. As, however 
the existence of pain is undeniable, it is equally impos- 
sible to believe that the world is arranged on the principle 
of Benevolence exclusively ; and, with great submis- 
sion, the view now presented reconciles the existence 
of Pain with that of Benevolence in a natural way, and 
the harmony of it with the constitution of the human 
mind, renders its soundness probable. 



/ 



CHAPTER IL 



OF THE CONSTITUTION OF MAN, AND ITS RELATIONS TO 
EXTERNAL OBJECTS. 

Let US, then, consider the Constitution of Man, and 
the natural laws to which he is subjected, and endea- 
vour to discover how far the external world is arranged 
with wisdom and benevolence, in regard to him. 
Bishop Butler, in the Preface to his Sermons, sayS, ' It is 
from considering the relations which the several appe- 
tites and passions in the inward frame have to each 
other, and, above all, the supkemacy of reflection oi 
conscience, that we get the idea of the system or con- 
stitution of human nature. And from the idea itself, 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



it will as fully appear, that this our nature, i. e. con- 
stitution, is adapted to virtue as from the idea of a watch 
it appears, that its nature, i. e. constitution or system 
•is adapted to measure time. 

* Mankind has various instincts and principles* of ac- 
tion as brute creatures have ; some leading most directly 
and immediately to the good of the community, and 
some most directly to private good. 

' Man has several, which brutes have not ; particu- 
larly reflection or conscience, an approbation of some 
principles or actions, and disapprobation of others.' 

' Brates obey their instincts or principles of action, 
according to certain rules ; suppose, the constitution 
of their body, and the objects around them.' 

' The generality of mankind also obey their instincts 

and principles, all of them, those propensities we call 

good, as well as the bad, according to the same rules, 

namely, the constitution of their body, and the exter- 

♦ nal circumstances which they are in.' 

' Brutes, in acting according to the rules before men- 
tioned, their bodily constitution and circumstances, act 
suitably to their luhole nature. 

' Mankind also, in acting thus, would act suitably to 
their whole nature, if no more were to be said of man's 
nature than what has been now said ; if that, as it is a 
true, were also a complete, adequate account of our 
nature. 

' But that is not a complete account of nature. Some- 
what farther must be brought in to give us an adequate 
notion of it ; namely, that one of those principles of 
action, conscience, or reflection, compared with the rest, 
as they all stand together in the nature of man, plainly 
hears upon it marks of authority over all the rest, and 
claims the absolute direction of them, all, to allow or for- 
bid their gratification ; — a disapprobation on reflection 
being in itself a principle manifestly superior to a mere 
propension. And the conclusion is, that to allow no 
more to this superior principle or part of our nature, 
than to other parts ; to let it govern and guide only 
occasiji.ally, in common with the rest, as its turn hap- 
pens to come, from the temper and circumstances one 
happens to be in ; this is not to act conformably to the 
constitution of man : neither can any human creature be 
said to act conformably to his constitution of nature, 
unless he allows to that superior principle the absolute 
authority which is due to it.' — Butler'' s Works, vol. ii. 
Preface. The following Essay is founded on the prin- 
ciples here suggested. 

SECT. I. MAN CONSIDEKED AS A PHYSICAL BEING. 

The human body consists of bones, muscles, nerves 
bloodvessels, besides organs of nutrition, of respiration, 
and of thought. These parts are all composed of phy- 
sical elements, and to a certain extent, are subjected to 
the physical laws of creation. By the laws of gravita- 
tion, the body falls to the ground when unsupported, and 
is liable to be injured, like any frangible substance ; by 
a chemical law, excessive cold freezes, and excessive 
heat dissipates, its fluids ; and life, in either case is ex- 
tinguished. 

To discover the real effect of the physical laws of 
nature on human happiness, we would require to un- 
derstand, 1st. The physical laws themselves, as 
levealed by mathematics, natural philosophy, natural 
history, and their subordinate branches ; 2dly. The 
ftnatomical and physiological constitution of the hu- 
man body ; 3dly. The adaptation of the former to the 
fetter. These expositions are necessary, to ascertain 
the extent to which it is possible for man to place him- 
self in accordance with the physical laws so as to reap 
advantage from them, and also to determine how far 
ihe sufi'erings which he endures, fall to be ascribed to* 
Iheir inevitable operation and how far to his ignorance 
and infringement of them. To treat of these views in 
detail, would require separate volumes, and I thereforo 
COiifine myself to a single instance as an illustration of 



the mode in which the investigation might be conducted. 

By the law of gravitation, heavy bodies always tend 
toward the centre of the earth. Some of the advan- 
tages of this law are, that objects remain at rest when 
properly supported, so that men know where to find 
them when they are wanted for use ; walls, when erect- 
ed of sufficient thickness and perfectly perpendicular, 
stand firm and secure, so as to constitute edifices for 
the accommodation of man. Water descends from the 
clouds, from the roofs of houses, from streets and fields, 
and precipitates itself down the channels of rivers, turns 
mill-wheels in its course, and sets in motion the most 
stupendous and useful machinery ; ships move steadi- 
ly through the water with part of their hulls immersed, 
and part rising moderately above it, their masts and 
sails towering in the air to catch the inconstant breeze ; 
and men are enabled to descend from heights, to pene- 
trate by mines below the surface of the ground, and by 
diving-bells beneath that of the ocean. 

To place man in harmony with this law, the Creator 
has bestowed on him bones, muscles, and nerves, con- 
structed on the most perfect principles of mechanical sci- 
ence, which enable him to jireserve his equilibrium, and 
to adapt his movements to its influence ; also intellec- 
tual faculties, calculated to perceive the existence of 
the law, its modes of o})eration, the relation between 
it and himself, the beneficial consequences of observing 
this relation, and the painful results of infringing it. 

Finally, when a person falls over a precipice, and is 
maimed or killed ; when a ship springs aleak and sin.ks ; 
or when a reservoir pond breaks down its banks and 
ravages a valley, we ought to trace the evil back to its 
cause, which will uniformly resolve itself into infringe- 
ment of a natural law, and then endeavour to discover 
whether this infringement could or could not have Lceu 
prevented, by a due exercise of the physical and men- 
tal powers bestowed by the Creator on man. 

By pursuing this course, we shall arrive at sound 
conclusions concerning the adaptation of the human 
mind and body to the physical laws of creation. The 
subject, as I have said, is too extensive to be here pro- 
secuted in detail, and I am incompetent, besides, to do 
it justice ; but the more minutely anyone inquires, the 
more firm will be his conviction, that in these relations 
admirable provision is made by the Creator for human 
happiness, and that the evils which arise from neglect 
of them, are attributable, to a great extent, to man's 
not adequately applying his powers to the promotion of 
his own enjoyment. 

SECT. II. AIAN CONSIDERED AS AN ORGANIZED BEING. 

Man is an organized being, and subject to the organic 
laws. An organized being is one which derives its ex- 
istence from a previously existing organized being, 
which subsists on food, which grows, attains maturity, 
decays, and dies. The first law, then, that must be 
obeyed, to render an organized being perfect in its kind, 
is that the germ, from which it springs, shall be com- 
plete in all its parts, and sound in Us whole constitu- 
tion. If we sow an acorn, in which some vital part has 
been destroyed altogether, the seedhng plant, and the 
full grown oak, if it ever attain to maturity, will be de- 
ficient in the lineaments which were wanting in the 
embryo root ; if we sow an acorn entire in its parts, but 
only half ripened or damaged, by damp or other causes 
in its whole texture, the seedling oak will be feeble, 
and will probably die early. A similar law holds in re- 
gard to man. A second organic law is, that the or- 
ganized being, the moment it is ushered into life, and 
so long as it continues to live, must be supplied with 
food, light, air, and other physical aliment requisite for 
its support, in due quantity, and of the kind best suited 
to its particular constitution. Obedience to this law ia 
rewarded w"ith a vigorous and healthy development of 
its powers ; and in animals, with a pleasing conscious- 
ness of existence and aptitude for the perfomiance of 



8 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN 



their natural functions ; disobedience to it is punished 
with feebleness, stinted growth, general imperfection, 
or death. A third organic law, applicable to man, is, 
that ho shall duly exercise his organs, this condition be- 
ing an indispensable requisite to health. The reward of 
obedience to this law, is enjoyment in the very act of 
exercising the functions, pleasing consciousness of ex- 
istence, and the acquisition of numberless gratifications 
and advantages, of which labour, or the exercise of 
our powers, is the procuring means : disobedience is 
punished with derangement and sluggishness of the 
functions, with general uneasiness or positive pain, and 
v\'ith the denial of gratification to numerous faculties. 

Directing our attention to the constitution of the hu- 
man body, we perceive that the power of reproduction 
IS bestowed on man, and also intellect, to enable him to 
discover and obey the conditions necessary for the trans- 
mission of a healthy organic frame to his descendants ; 
that digestive organs are given to him for his nutrition, 
and innumerable vegetable and animal productions are 
placed around him, in wise relationship to these organs. 

Without attempting to expound minutely the organic 
structure of man, or to trace in detail its adaptation to 
his external condition, I shall offer some observations 
in support of the proposition, that the due exercise of 
the osseous, muscular, and nervous systems, under the 
guidance of intellect and moral sentiment, and in ac- 
cordance with the physical laws, contributes to human 
enjoyment ; and, that neglect of this exercise, or an 
abuse of it, by carrying it to excess, or by conducting 
it in opposition to the moral, intellectual, or physical 
laws, is punished vnth pain. 

The earth is endowed with the capability of producing 
an ample supply for all our wants, provided we expend 
muscular and nervous energy in its cultivation ; while, 
in most climates, it refuses to produce if we withhold 
this labour and leave it waste. Farther, the Creator 
has presented us with timber, metal, wool, and count- 
less materials, which, by means of muscular power, 
may be converted into clothing, and all the luxuries of 
life. The fertility of the earth, and the demands of the 
body for food and clothing, are so benevolently adapted 
to each other, that with rational restraint on population, 
a few hour's labour each day from evtry individual ca- 
pable of labour, would suffice to furnish all with every 
commodity that could really add to enjoyment. 

In the tropical regions of the globe, for example, 
where a high atmospheric temperature diminishes the 
quantum of muscular energy, the fertility and produc- 
tiveness of the soil are increased in a like proportion, so 
that less labour suffices. Less labour, also, is required 
to provide habitations and raiment. In the colder lati- 
tudes, muscular energy is greatly increased, and there 
much higher demands are made upon it. The earth is 
more sterile, the rude winds require firmer fabrics to re- 
sist their violence, and the piercing frosts require a 
thicker covering to the body. 

Farther, the food afforded by the soil in each climate 
is admirably adapted to the maintenance of the organic 
constitution in health, and to the supply of the muscu- 
lar energy requisite for the particular wants of the situ- 
ation. In the Arctic Regions no farinaceous food 
ripens ; but on putting the question to Dr Richardson, 
how he, accustomed to the bread and vegetables of the 
temperate regions, was able to endure the pure animal 
diet, which formed his only support on his expedition to 
the shores of the Polar Sea along with Captain Frank- 
lin, he replied, that the effects of the extreme dry cold to 
which they were exposed, living, as they did, constantly 
in the open air, was to produce a desire for the most 
stimulating food they could obtain ; that bread in such 
a climate was not only not desired, but comparatively 
impotent, as an article of diet ; that pui-e animal food, 
and the fatter the better, was the only sustenance that 
maintained the tone of the corporeal system, but that 
when It was abundant (and the quantity required was 



much greater than in milder latitudes) a delightful 
vigour and buoyancy of mind and body were enjoyed, 
that rendered life highly agreeable. Now, in beautiful 
harmony with these wants of the human frame, these 
regions abound, during summer, in countless herds of 
deer, in rabbits, partridges, ducks, in short, in game of 
every description, and fish ; and the flesh of these dried, 
constitutes delicious food in winter, when the earth is 
wrapped in one wide-spread covering of snow. 

In Scotland, the climate is moist and cold, the 
greater part of the surface is mountainous, but ad- 
mirably adapted for raising sheep and cattle, while a 
certain portion consists of fertile plains, fitted for fari- 
naceous food. If the same law holds in this country, 
the diet of the people should consist of animal and 
farinaceous food, the former decidedly predominating. 
As we proceed to warmer latitudes, we find tne soil 
and temperature of France less congenial to sheep and 
cattle, but more favourable to com and wine ; and the 
Frenchman inherits a native elasticity of body and 
m.ind, that enables him to flourish in vigour on less of 
animal food, than would be requisite to preserve the Scot- 
tish Highlander in a like gay and alert conditicHi, in the re- 
cesses of his mountains. The plains of Hindostan ar? too 
hot for the sheep and ox, but produce rice and vegeta- 
ble spices in prodigious abundance, and the native is 
healthy, vigorous and active, v,-hen supplied with rice 
and curry, and becomes sick, when obliged to live upon 
animal diet. He, also, is supplied with less muscular 
energy from this species of food, and his soil and cli- 
mate require far less laborious exertion than those of 
Britain, Germany, or Russia. 

So far, then, the external world appears to be wisely 
and benevolently adapted to the organic system of man, 
that is, to his nutrition, and to the developement and 
exercise of his corporeal organs ; and the natural law 
appears to be, that all, if they desire to enjoy the plea- 
sures attending sound and vigorous muscular and ner- 
vous systems, must expend i.i labour the energy which 
the Creator has infused into these organs. A wide 
choice is left open to man, as to the mode in which he 
shall exercise his nervous and muscular systems. The 
labourer, for example, digs the ground, and the squire 
engages in the chase. The penalty of neglecting this 
law is debility, bodily and mental, lassitude, imperfect 
digestion, disturbed sleep, bad health, and, if carried to 
a certain length, death. The penalty for over-exerting 
these systems is exhaustion, mental incapacity, the de- 
sire of strong artificial stimulants, such as ardent spirits, 
general insensibility, and grossness of feeling and per- 
ception, with disease and shortened life. Society has 
not recognised this law, and in consequence, the higher 
orders despise labour, and suffer the first penalty ; while 
the lower orders are oppressed with toil, and undergo 
the second. The penalties serve to provide motives 
for obedience to the law, and wherever it is recognised, 
and the consequences are discovered to be imevitable, 
men will no longer shun labour as painful and igno- 
minious, but resort to it as a source of pleasure, as 
well as to avoid the pains inflicted on those who neg- 
lect it. 

SECT. III. MAN CONSIDERED AS AN ANIMAL MORAL 

AND INTELLECTUAL BEING. 

In the third place, man is an animal — moral — and 
intellectual being. To discover the adaptation of these 
parts of his nature to his external circumstances, we 
must first know what are his various animal, moral, and 
intellectual powers themselves. Phrenology gives us 
a view of them, drawn from observation ; and as I have 
verified the inductions of that science, so as to satisfy 
myself that it is the most complete and correct exposi- 
tion of the Nature of Man which has yet been given, I 
adopt its classification of facuces as the basis of the 
subsequent observations. According to Phrenology, 
then, the Human Faculties are the following : 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN, 



9 



Order I. FEELINGS. 

Genus I. PROPENSITIES— Commow to Man with 

the Lower Animals. 

1. Amativeness ; Produces sexual love. 

2. Philoprogenitiveness. — Uses: Love of offspring. 

— Abuses : Pampering and spoiling children. 

3. CoNCENTEATivENEss. — Uses : It gives the desire 

for permanence in place, and for permanence of 
emotions and ideas in the mind. — Abuses: Aver- 
sion to move abroad ; morbid dwelling on inter- 
nal emotions and ideas, to the neglect of external 
impressions. 

4. Adhesiveness. — Uses: Attachment; friendship, 

and society result from it. — Abuses : Clanship for 
improper objects, attachment to worthless individu- 
als. It is generally large in women. 

5. Co.MBATivENESs. — Uscs : Courage to meet danger, 

to overcome difficulties, and to resist attacks. — 
Abuses : Love of contention, and tendency to 
provoke and assault. 
C. Destructiveness. — Uses : Desire to destroy nox- 
ious objects, and to kill for food. It is very dis- 
cernible in carnivorous animals. — Abuses : Cruel- 
ty, desire to torment, tendency to passion, rage, 
harshness and severity in speech and writing. 

7. CoNSTRUCTivENEss. — Uscs : Desire to build and 

construct works of art. — Abuses : Construction of 
engines to injure or destroy, and fabrication of ob- 
jects to deceive mankind. 

8. Acquisitiveness. — Uses: Desire to possess, and 

tendency to accumulate articles of utility, to pro- 
vide against want. — Abuses : Inordinate desire for 
property ; selfishness ; avarice. 

9. Seuretiveness. — Uses: Tendency to restrain with- 

in the mind the various emotions and ideas that 
involuntarily present themselves, until the judg- 
ment has approved of giving them utterance ; it 
also aids the artist and the actor in giving expres- 
sion ; and is an ingredient in prudence. — Abuses : 
Cunning, deceit, duplicity, lying, and, joined with 
Acquisitiveness, theft. 

Genus II. SENTIMENTS. 
I. Sentiments common to Man with the Lower Animals. 

10. Self-Esteem. — Uses: Self-interest, love of inde- 
pendence, personal dignity. — Abuses : Pride, dis- 
dain, overweening conceit, excessive selfishness, 
love of dominion. 

11. Love of Approbation. — Uses: Desire of the es- 
teem of others, love of praise, desire of fame or 
glory. — Abuses . Vanity, ambition, thirst for praise 
independent of praiseworthiness. 

12. Cautiousness. — Uses: It gives origin to the sen- 
timent of fear, the desire to shun danger, to cir- 
cumspection ; and it is an ingredient in prudence. 
■ — Abuses : Excessive timidity, poltroonery, un- 
founded apprehensions, despondency, melancholy. 

13. Benevolence. — Uses: Desire of the happiness of 

others, universal charity, mildness of disposition, 
and a lively sympathy with the enjoyment of all 
animated beings. — Abuses : Profusion, injurious 
indulgence of the appetites and fancies of others, 
prodigahty, facility of temper. 

II. Sentiments proper to Man. 

14. Veneration. — Uses : Tendency to worship, adore, 
venerate, or respect whatever is great and good ; 
gives origin to the religious sentiment. — Abuses : 
Senseless respect for unworthy objects consecra- 
ted by time or situation, love of antiquated cus- 
toms, abject subserviency to persons in authority, 
superstition. 

15. Hope. — Uscs : Tendency to expect and to look for- 
ward to the future with confidence and reliance ; 
it cherishes faith. — Abuses : Credulity, absurd ex- 
pectations of felicity not founded on reason. 



Feeling or Touch. 
Tastk. 

S.MEI.L. 

Hearing. 
Light. 



IG. Ideality. — Uses: Love of the beautiful and splen- 
did, the desire of excellence, poetic feeling. — • 
Abuses : Extravagance and absurd enthusiasm, 
preference of the showy and glaring to the solid 
and useful, a tendency to dwell in the regions of 
fancy, and to neglect the duties of hfe. 

Wonder. — Uses: The desire of novelty, admiration 
of the new, the unexpected, the grand, and extra- 
ordinary. — Abuses : Love of the marvellous, as- 
tonishment. — Note. Veneration, Hope, and Won- 
der, combined, give the tendency to religion ; th-eir 
abuses produce superstition and belief in false 
miracles, in prodigies, magic, ghosts, and all su- 
pernatural absurdities. 

17. Consciousness. — Uses: It gives origin to the 
sentiment of justice, or respect for the rights of 
others, openness to conviction, the love of truth. 
Abuses : Scrupulous adherence to noxious princi- 
ples when ignorantly embraced, excessive refine- 
ment in the views of duty and obligation, excess 
in remorse, or self-condemnation. 

18. Firmness. — Uses: Determination, perseverance, 
steadiness of purpose. — Abuses : Stubbornness, 
infatuation, tenacity in evil. 

Order II. INTELLECTUAL FACULTIES. 

Genus I. External Senses. 

Uses : To bring man into com- 
munication with external objects, 
and to enable him to enjoy them. 
.Abuses : Excessive indulgence 
'in the pleasures arising from the 
senses, to the extent of impair- 
ing the organs and debilitating 
) the mind. 

Genus II. INTELLECTUAL FACULTIES--i«fccA 
perceive existence. 

19. Individuality — Takes cognizance of existence 

and simple facts. 
Eventuality — Takes cognizance of occuirences 
and events. 

20. Form — Renders man observant of form. 

2L Size — Renders man observant of dimensions, and 
aids perspective. 

22. Weight — Communicates the perception of momen- 

tum, weight, resistance, and aids equilibrium. 

23. Colouring — Gives perception of colours. 

Genus III. INTELLECTUAL FACULTIES— 
which perceive the relations of exteriial objects. 

24. Locality — Gives the idea of space and relative 
position. 

25. Order — Communicates the love of physical ar- 
rangement. 

26. Time — Gives rise to the perception of duration. 

27. Number — Gives a turn for arithmetic and algebra. 

28. Tune — The sense of Melody arises from it. 

29. Language — Gives a facility in acquiring a know- 
ledge of arbitrary signs to express thoughts — a 
felicity in the use of them — and a power of invent- 
ing them. 

Genus IV. REFLECTING FACULTIES— z/)AicA 
compare, judge, and, discriminate. 

30. Comparison — Gives the power of discovering ana- 
logies and resemblances. 

31. Causality — To trace the dependencies of pheno- 
mena, and the relation of cause and effect. 

32. Wit — Gives the feeling and the ludicrous. 

33. Imitation — To copy the manners, gestures, and 
actions of others, and nature generally. 

The first glance at these faculties suffices to show, 
that they are not all equal in excellence and elevation.; 
that some are common to man with the lower animals ; 
and others peculiar to man. In comparing the human 
mind, therefore, with its external condition, it becomes 



10 



. CONSTITUTION OF MAN, 



an object of primary importance to discover the rela- 
tive subordination of these different orders of powers. 
If the Animal Faculties are naturally or necessarily su- 
preme, then external nature, if it be wisely constituted, 
may be expected to bear direct reference, in its arrange- 
ments, to this supremacy. If the Moral and Intellec- 
tual Faculties hold the ascendancy, them t!le constitu- 
tion of external nature may be expected to be in har- 
Biony with them, when predominant. Let us attend to 
these questions. 

SECT. IV. THE FACULTIES OF MAN COMPARED WITH 

EACH OTHER ; OR THE SUPREMACY OF THE MORAL 
SENTIMENTS AND INTELLECT. 

According to the phrenological theory of human na- 
ture, the faculties are divided into Propensities common 
to man with the lower animals, Sentiments proper to 
man, and intellect. Every faculty stands in a definite 
relation to certain external objects ; — when it is inter- 
nally active it desires these objects ; — when they are 
presented to it they excite it to activity, and delight it 
with agreeable sensations. Human happiness and 
misery are resolvable into the gratification or denial of 
gratification of one or more of our active faculties, be- 
fore described, of the external senses, and the feehngs 
connected with our bodily frame. The faculties, in 
themselves, are mere instincts ; the moral sentiments 
and intellect are higher instincts than the animal pro- 

fiensities. Every faculty is good in itself, but all are 
iable to abuse. Their manifestations are right only 
when directed by enlightened intellect and moral senti- 
ment. In maintaining the supremacy of the moral sen- 
timents and intellect, I do not consider them sufficient 
to direct conduct by their mere instinctive suggestions. 
To fit them to discharge this important duty, they must 
Ic illuminated by knowledge of science and of moral 
and of religious duty ; but whenever their dictates, 
thus enlightened, oppose the solicitations of the propen- 
sities, the latter must yield., otherwise, by the constitu- 
'tion of external nature, evil will inevitably ensue. This 
is what I mean by nature being constituted in harmony 
with the supremacy of the moral sentiments and intel- 
lect. Let us consider the faculties themselves. 

The first three propensities, Amativeness, Philopro- 
gcnitiveness, and Adhesiveness, or the group of the 
domestic affections, desire a conjugal partner, offspring, 
and friends ; the obtaining of these affords them de- 
ight, — the reinoval of them occasions pain. But to 
lender an individual happy, the whole faculties must be 
gratified harmoniously, or at least the gratification of 
one or more must not offend any of the others. For 
examyile, suppose the group of the domestic affections 
to be highly interested in an individual, and strongly to 
desire to form an alliance with him, but that the person 
so loved is improvident and immoral, and altogether an 
object which the faculties of Self-esteem, Love of Ap- 
probation, Benevolence, Veneration, Conscientiousness, 
and Intellect, if left dispassionately to survey his qua- 
lities, could not approve of; then, if an alliance be 
formed with him, under the ungovernable impulses of 
the former faculties, bitter days of repentance must ne- 
cessarily follow, when these begin to languish, and the 
latter faculties receive offence from his qualities. If, 
©n the other hand, the domestic affections are guided 
by intellect to an object pleasing to the latter powers, 
these themselves will be gratified, they will double the 
delights afforded by the former faculties, and render the 
enjoyment permanent. 

The great distinction between the animal faculties 
and the powers proper to man, is, that the object of the 
former is the preservation of the individual himself, or 
his family ; while the latter have the welfare of others, 
and our duties to God, as their ends. Even the do- 
mestic affections, amiable and respectable as they un- 
doubtedly are when combined with the moral feelings, 
have self as their object. The love of children, 



springing from Philoprogenitiveness, when acting alone, 
is the same in kind as that of the miser for his gold ; 
an intense interest in the object, for the sake of the 
gratification it affords to his own mind, without regard 
for the object on its own account. This truth is recog- 
nized by Sir Walter Scott. He says, ' Elspat's ardent, 
though selfish affection for her son, incapable of being 
qualified by a regard for the true interests of the unfor- 
tunate object of her attachment, resembled the instinct- 
ive fond7iess of the animal race for their offspring ; and, 
diving little farther into futurity than one of the inferior 
creatures, she only felt that to be separated from 
Hamish, was to die.''* 

In man, this faculty generally acts along with Bene- 
volence, and a disinterested desire of the happiness of 
the child mingles along with, and elevates the mere in- 
stinct of, Philoprogenitiveness ; but the sources of these 
two affections are different, their degrees vary in differ- 
ent persons, and their ends also are dissimilar. 

The same observation applies to the affection pro- 
ceeding from Adhesiveness. When this faculty acts 
alone, it desires, for its own satisfaction, a friend to 
love ; but, if Benevolence do not act along with it, it 
cares nothing for the happiness of that friend, except in 
so far as his welfare may be necessary to its own grati- 
fication. The horse feels melancholy when his com- 
panion is removed ; but the feeling appears to be one 
of unneasiness at the absence of an object which gra- 
tified his Adhesiveness. His companion may have been 
led to a richer pasture, and introduced to more agree- 
able society ; yet this does not assuage the distress 
suffered by him at his removal ; his tranquillity, in short, 
is restored only by time causing the activity of Adhe- 
siveness to subside, or by the substitution of another 
object on which it may exert itself In human natm-e, 
the effect of the faculty, wheii acting singly, is tlie 
same ; and this accounts for the fact of the almost total 
indifference of many persons who were really attached, 
by Adhesiveness, to each other, when one falls into 
misfortune, and becomes a disagreeable object to the 
Self-esteem and Love of Approbation of the other. 
Suppose two persons, elevated in rank, and possessed 
of affluence, to have such Adhesiveness, Self-esteem, 
and Love of Approbation large, with Benevolence and 
Conscientiousness moderate, it is obvious that, while 
both are in prosperity, they may really like each other's 
society, and feel a reciprocal attachment, because there 
will be mutual sympathy in their Adhesiveness, and the 
Self-esteem and Love of Approbation of each will be 
gratified by the rank and circumstances of his friend ; 
but imagine one of them to fall into misfortune, and to 
cease to be an object gratifying to Self-esteem and 
Love of Approbation ; suppose that he becomes a poor 
friend instead of a rich and influential one, the harmony 
between their selfish faculties will be broken, and then 
Adhesiveness in the one who remains rich will transfer 
its affection to another individual who may gratify it, 
and also supply agreeable sensations to Self-esteem and 
Love of Approbation, — to a genteel friend, in short, 
who will look well in the eye of the world. 

Much of this conduct occurs in society, and the 
v/hining complaint is very ancient, that the storms of 
adversity disperse friends just as the winter winds strip 
leaves from the forest that gaily adorned it in the sun- 
shine of summer ; and many moral sentence are point- 
ed, and episodes finely turned, on the selfishness and 
corruption of poor human nature. But such friend- 
ships were attachments founded on the lower feelings, 
which, by their constitution, are selfish, and the deser- 
tion complained of is the fair and legitimate result of 
the principles on which both parties acted during the 
gay hours of prosperity. If we look at the head of 
Sheridan, we shall perceive large Adhesiveness, Self- 
esteem, and Love of Approbation, with deficient re- 
flectincr organs, and moderate Conscientiousness. He 
♦ Chroniclea of the Canongate, vo! i. p. 231. 



s~ 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



1] 



has large Individuality, Comparison, Secretiveness, and 
Imitation, which gave him talents for observation and 
displav. When these earned him a brilliant reputation, 
he was surrounded by friends, and he himself probably 
felt attachment in return. But his deficient morality 
prevented him from loving his friends with a true, dis- 
interested, and honest regard ; he abused their kind- 
ness, and, as he sunk into poverty and wretchedness, 
and ceased to be an honour to them, or to excite their 
Love of Approbation, they almost all deserted him. 
But the whole connexion was founded on selfish prin- 
ciples ; Sheridan honoured them, and they flattered 
Sheridan ; and the abandonment was the natural con- 
sequence of the cessation of gratification to their sel- 
fish feelings. I shall by-and-by point out the sources 
of a loftier and a purer friendship, and its effects. 

To proceed with the propensities : Combativeness 
and Destructiveness, also are in their nature purely 
selfish. If aggression is committed against us, Com- 
bativeness draws the sword and repels the attack ; De- 
structiveness inflicts vengeance for the oflfence ; both 
feelings are obviously the very opposite of benevolent. 
I do not say, that, in themselves, they are despicable 
or sinful ; on the contrary, they are necessary, and, 
when legitimately employed, highly useful ; but still 
self is the object of their supreme regard. 

The next organ is Acquisitiveness, and self is emi- 
nently its object. It desires bhndly to possess, is 
pleased with accumulating, and sulfers great uneasiness 
in being deprived of its objects. It is highly useful, 
like all the other faculties, for even Benevolence cannot 
give away until Acquisitiveness has acquired. There 
are friendships, particularly among mercantile men, 
founded on Adhesiveness and Acquisitiveness, just as 
in fashionable life they are founded on Adhesiveness 
and Love of Approbation. Two individuals fall into 
a course of dealing, by which each reaps profit by 
transactions with the other : this leads to intimacy, and 
Adhesiveness probably mingles its influence, and pro- 
duces a feeling of actual attachment. The moment, 
however, that the Acquisitiveness of the one suffers the 
least inroad from that of the other, and their interests 
clash, they are apt, if no higher principle unite them, 
to become bitter enemies. It is probable that, while 
these fashionable and commercial friendships last, the 
parties may profess great recrij)rocal esteem and regard, 
and that, when a rupture takes place, the one who is 
depressed, or disobliged, may recall these expressions 
and charge them as hypocritical ; but they really were 
not so : each probably felt from Adhesiveness and gra- 
tified Love of Approbation something which he coloured 
over, and perhaps believed to be disinterested friend- 
ship ; but if each would honestly probe his own con- 
science, he would be obliged to acknowledge that the 
whole basis of the connexion was selfish ; and hence, 
that the result is just what every man ought to expect, 
who places his reliance for happiness chiefly on the 
lower propensities. 

Secretiveness is also selfish in its nature ; for it sup- 
presses feelings that might injure us with other in- 
dividuals, and desires to find out secrets that may en- 
able its possessor to guard self against hostile plots or 
, designs. In itself it does not desire, in any respect, 
the benefit of others. 

Self-esteem is, in its very essence and name, sel- 
fish ; it is the love of ourselves, and the esteem of our- 
selves far excellence. 

Love of Approbation, although many think otherwise, 
is also in itself a purely selfish feeling. Its real de- 
sire is applause to ourselves, to be esteemed ourselves, 
and if it prompt us to do services, or to say agreeable 
things to others, it is not from love of them, but purely 
for the sake of obtaining self-gratification. 

Suppose, for example, we are acquainted with a per- 
son who has committed an error in some public dutv, 
who has done or said somethmg that the public disap- 



prove of, and which we see to be really wrrong. Bene- 
volence and Conscientiousness would prompt us to lay 
before oar friend the very head and front of his offend- 
ing, and conjure him to forsake his error, aud publicly 
make amends : — Love of Approbation, on the othe» 
hand, would either render us averse to speak to iiim oh 
the subject, lest he should be offended, or prompt us to 
extenuate his fault, and represent it as either positively 
no error at all, or as extremely trivial. If we analyze 
the motive which prompts to this course, we shall find 
that it is not love of 'our friend, or consideration for his 
welfare, but fear lest, by our presenting to him disa- 
greeable truths, he should feel oflfended at us, and de- 
prive us of the gratification afforded to our Love of 
Approbation by his good opinion : in short, the motive 
is purely selfish. 

Another illustration occurs. A manufacturer hi a 
country town, having acquired a considerable fortune 
by trade, applied part of it in building a princely man- 
sion, which he furnished in the richest and most expen- 
sive style of fashion. He asked his customers, near 
and distant, to visit him when calling on business, and 
led them into a dining-room or drawing-room that abso- 
lutely dazzled them with its magnificence. This ex- 
cited their wonder and curiosity, which was precisely 
the effect he desired ; he then led them over his whole 
apartments, and displayed before them his grandeur and 
taste. In doing so, he imagined that he was confer- 
ring a high pleasure on them, and filling their minds 
with an intense admiration of his greatness ; but the 
real effect was very different. The motive of his con- 
duct was not love of them, or regard for their happi- 
ness or welfare ; it was not Benevolence to others that 
prompted him to build the palace ; it was not Venera- 
tion, nor was it Conscientiousness. The fabric sprung 
from Self-esteem and Love of Approbation combined, 
no doubt, with considerable Intellect and Ideahty. In 
leading his humble brethren in trade through tho 
princely halls, over the < costly carpets, and amidst the 
gilding, burnishing, and rich array, that every where met 
their eyes,he exulted in the consciousness of his owh 
importance, and asked for their admiration, not as an 
expression of respect for any real benefits conferred 
upon them, but as the much relished food of his owa 
selfish vanity. 

Let us attend, in the next place, to the effect of tliia 
display on those to whom it was addressed. To gain 
their esteem or affection, it was necessary to manifest 
towards them real Benevolence, real regard, and impar- 
tial justice ; in short, to cause another individual to 
love us, we must make him the object of the moral sen- 
timents, which have his good and happiness for their 
end. Here, however, these were not the inspiring mo- 
tives of the conduct, and the want of them would be 
instinctively felt. The customers, who possessed the 
least shrewdness, would ascribe the whole exhibition te 
the vanity of the owner, and they would either pity or 
hate him ; if their ovv'n moral sentiments predominated, 
they would pity ; if their Self-esteem and Love of Ap- 
probation were paramount, these would be offended at 
his assumed superiority, and would rouse Destructive- 
ness to haie him. It would only be the silliest and the 
vainest who would be at all gratified; and their satisfaction 
would arise from the feeling, that they could now re- 
turn to their own circle, and boast how great a friend 
they had, and in how grand a style they had been enter- 
tained, — this display being a direct gratification of their 
own Self-esteem and Love of Approbation, by their 
identifying themselves with him. Even this pleasure 
could be reaped only where the admirer was so humble 
in rank as to entertain no idea of rivalship, and so 
limited in intellect and sentiments as not to perceive 
the worthlessness of the qualities by which he was cap- 
tivated. 

In like manner, when nersons. even of more sense 
than the manufacturer here alluded to, give entertaiu. 



12 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



ments to their friends, they sometimes fail iii their ob- 
ject from the same cause. They wish to show off them- 
selves as their leading motive, much more than to con- 
fer real happiness upon their acquaintances ; and, by 
the irreversible law of human nature, this must fail in 
exciting good-will and pleasure in the minds of those to 
whom It is addressed, because it disagreeably affects 
their Self-esteem and Love of Approbation. In short, 
to be really successful in gratifying our friends, we 
must keep our own selfish faculties in due subordina- 
tion, and pour out- copious streams of real kindness 
from the higher sentiments, animated and elevated by 
intellect ; and all who have experienced the heart-felt 
joy and satisfaction attending an entertainment con- 
ducted on this principle, will never quarrel with the 
homeliness of the fare, or feel uneasy about the ab- 
sence of fashion in the service. 

Cautiousness is the next faculty, and is a sentiment 
instituted to protect self from danger, and has clearly a 
regard to individual safety as its primary object. 

This terminates the li^t of the feelings common to 
man with the lower animals,* and which, as we have 
seen, have self preservation as their leading objects. 
They are given for the protection and advantage of 
our animal nature, and, when duly regulated, are highly 
useful, and also respectable, viewed with reference to 
that end ; but they are sources of innumerable evils 
when allowed to usurp the ascendancy over the moral 
faculties, and to become the leading springs of our so- 
cial intercourse. 

I proceed to notice the moral sentiments which con- 
stitute the proper human faculties, and to point out 
their objects and relations. 

Benevolence has no reference to self. It desires 
purely and disinterestedly the happiness of its objects ; 
it loves for the sake of the person beloved ; if he be 
well, and the sunbeams of prosperity shine warmly 
around him, it exults and delights in his felicity. It 
desires a diffusion of joy, and renders the feet swift 
and the arm strong in the cause of charity and love. 

Veneration also has no reference to self. It looks 
np with a pure and elevated emotion to the being to 
whom it is directed, whether God or our fellow-men, 
and delights in the contemplation of their venerable 
and admirable qualities. It desires to find out excel- 
lence, and to dwell and feed upon it, and renders self 
lowly, humble, and submissive. 

Hope spreads its gay wing in the boundless regions 
of futurity. It desires good, and expects it to come ; 
' it incites us to aim at a good which we can live with- 
out ;' its influence is soft, soothing, and happy ; but 
self is not its direct or particular object. 

Ideality delights in perfection from the pure pleasure 
of contemplating it. So far as it is concerned, the pic- 
ture, the statue, the landscape, or the mansion, on 
which it abides with intensest rapture, will be as pleas- 
ing, although the property of another, as if all its own. 
It is a spring that is touched by the beautiful wherever 
it exists ; and hence its means of enjoyment are as un- 
bounded as the universe is extensive. 

Wonder seeks the new and the striking, and is de- 
lighted with change ; but there is no desire of appro- 
priation to self in its longings. 

Conscientiousness stands in the midway between self 
and other individuals. It is a regulator of our animal 
feelings, and points out the limit which they must not 
pass. It desires to do to another as we would have 
another to do to us, and thus is a guardian of the wel- 
fare of our fellow men, while it sanctions and supports 
our personal feelings within the bounds of a due mo- 
deration. It is a noble feeling ; and the mere con- 

* Benevolence is stated in the works on Phrenology as com- 
mon to man with the lower animal.' • but in them it appears to 
profliirp rafhe; passive meeKness and goon tiaiuic, iljar. T-'nal 
oesire lor each other's happiness. In the human race this last is 
its proper function ; and, viewed in this light, I here treat of it as 
exclusively a human faculty. 



sciousness of its being bestowed upon us, ought t« 
bring home to our minds an intense conviction that the 
Author of the universe is at once wise and just. 

Intellect is universal in its application. It may be- 
come the handmaid of any of the faculties ; it may de- 
vise a plan to murder or to bless, to steal or to bestow, 
to rear up or to destroy ; but, as its proper use is to 
observe the different objects of creation, to mark their 
relations, and direct the propensities and sentiments to 
their proper and legitimate enjoyments, it has a bound- 
less sphere of activity, and, when properly exercised 
and applied, is a source of high and inexhaustible de- 
light. 

Keeping in view the great difference now pointed 
out between the animal and properly human faculties, 
the reader will perceive that three consequences foUovr 
from the constitution of these powers : First, All the 
faculties, when in excess, are insatiable, and, from the 
constitution of the world, never can be satisfied. They 
indeed may be soon satisfied on any particular occasion. 
Food will soon fill the stomach ; indulgence will speed- 
ily assuage Amativeness ; success in a speculation will 
render Acquisitiveness quiescent for the moment : a tri- 
umph will satisfy for the time Self-esteem and Love of 
Approbation ; a long concert will fatigue Tune ; and too 
long a discourse atHict Casuality. But after repose they 
will all renew their solicitations. They must all there- 
fore be regulated ; and, in particular, the lower pro- 
pensities, from having self as their primary objects, and 
being blind to consequences, do not set limits to their 
own indulgence ; and hence lead to misery to the in- 
dividual, and injury to society, when allowed to exceed 
the limits prescribed by the superior sentiments and 
intellect. 

As this circumstance attending the propensities is of 
great practical importance, I shall make a few obser- 
vations in elucidation of it. The births and lives of 
children depend upon circumstances, over which unen- 
lightened men have but a limited control ; and hence 
an individual, whose supreme happiness springs frora 
the gratification of Philoprogenitiveness will, by the 
mere predominance of that propensity, be led to neglecl 
or infringe the natural laws, on which the lives and wel- 
fare of children depend, and which can be observed 
only by active moral and intellectual faculties. Henct 
he will be in constant danger of anguish and disappoint ■ 
ment, by the removal of his children, or by their undu 
tiful conduct and immoral behaviour. Besides, Philo- 
progenitiveness, acting along with Self-esteem and Love 
of Approbation, would, in each parent, desire that his 
children should possess the highest rank, the greatest 
wealth, and be distinguished for the most splendid tal- 
ents. Now the highest, the greatest, the most splen- 
did of any qualities, necessarily imply the existence of 
inferior degrees, and are not attainable except by one. 
The animal faculties, therefore, must be restrained in 
their desires, and directed to their objects by the human 
faculties, by the sentiments of Conscientiousness, Be- 
nevolence, Veneration, and Intellect, otherwise they 
will inevitably lead to disappointment. In like manner, 
Acquisitiveness desires wealth, and, as nature affords 
only a certain number of quarters of grain annually, a 
certain portion of cattle, of fruit, of flax, and other arti- 
cles, from which food, clothing, and wealth, are manu- 
factured ; and as this quantity, divided equally among 
all the members of a state, would afford but a moder- 
ate portion to each, it is self-evident that, if all desire 
to acquire and possess a large amount, ninety-nine out 
of the hundred must be disappointed. This tlisa[)[)oint- 
ment, from the very constitution of nature, is inevitable 
to the greater number ; and when individuals form 
schemes of aggrandisement, originating from desires 
communicated by the animal faculties alone, they would 
do well to keep this law of nature in view. When we 
looR aio'in<l. we see how few make rich ; how few suc- 
ceed in accomplishing all their lofty aiiticijiations for the 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN, 



13 



advancement of their children ; how few attain the 
snmniit of ambition, compared with the multitudes who 
fall short. Love of Approbation and Self-esteem when 
unregulated, desire the highest station of ambition ; 
but, as these faculties exist in all men, and only one 
can be greatest, they will prompt one man to defeat the 
gratification of another. All this arises, not from error 
and unperfection in the institution of the Creator but 
from blindness in men to their own nature, to the na- 
ture of external objects, and to the relations establish- 
ed between these : in short, blindness to the principles 
of the divme administration of the world. 

Secondly. The animal propensities being inferior 
in their nature to the human faculties, their gratifica- 
tions when not approved of by the latter, leave a painful 
feeling of discontent and dissatisfaction in the mind, 
occasioned by the secret disclamation of their exces- 
sive action by the higher feelings. Suppose, for example 
a young person to set out in life, with the idea that the 
great object of existence is to acquire wealth, to rear 
and provide for a family, and to attain honor and dis- 
tinction among men ; all these desires spring from the 
propensities alone. Imagine him to rise early and sit 
up late, to put forth all the energies of a powerful mind 
in buying, selling, and making rich, and that he is suc- 
cessful ; it is obvious, that, in prompting to this course 
of action. Benevolence, Veneration, and Conscientious- 
ness, had no share ; and that, in pursuing it, they have 
not received direct and intended gratification ; they 
■would have anxiously and wearily watched the animal 
faculties, longing for the hour when they were to say 
Enough ; their whole occupation, in the mean time, 
being to restrain them from such gross extravagances 
as would have defeated their own ends. In the domes- 
tic circle, again, a spouse and children would gratify 
Philoprogenitiveness and Adhesiveness, and their ad- 
vancement would please Self-esteem and Love of Ap- 
probation ; but here also the moral sentiments would 
act the part of mere spectators and sentinels to impose 
restraints ; they would receive no direct enjoyment, and 
would not be recognised as the fountain of the conduct. 
In the pursuit of honor, suppose an office of dignity 
and power, or high rank in society, the mainsprings of 
exertion would still be Self-esteem and Love of Appro- 
bation, and the moral sentiments would be compelled to 
wait in tiresome vacuity, without having their energies 
called directly into play, so as to give them full scope 
in their legitimate sphere. 

Suppose, then, this individual to have reached the 
evening of life, and to look back on the pleasures and 
pains of his past existence, he must feel that there has 
been vanity and vexation of spirit, — the want of a satis- 
fying portion ; and for this sufficient reason, that the 
highest of his faculties have been all along scarcely em- 
ployed. In estimating, also, the real affection and es- 
teem of mankind which he has gained, he will find it to 
be small or great in exact proportion to the degree in 
which he has manifested, in his habitual conduct, the 
lower or the higher faculties. If society has seen him 
selfish inyhis pursuit of wealth, selfish in his domestic 
affections, selfish in his ambition ; although he may have 
gratified all these feelings without positive encroach- 
ment on the rights of others, they will still look coldly 
on him, they will feel no glow of affection towards him. 
no elevated respect, no sincere admiration ; he will see 
and feel this, and complain bitterly that all is vanity and 
vexation of spirit. But the fault has been his own ; 
love, esteem, and sincere respect, arise, by the Crea- 
tor's laws, not from contemplating the manifestations 
of plodding, selfish faculties, but only from the display 
of Benevolence, Veneration, and Justice, as the motives 
and end of our conduct ; and the individual supposed 
nas reaped the natural and legitimate produce of the 
soil which he cultivated, and eaten the fruit which he 
Las reared. 

Thirdly. The higher feelings, when directed by en- 



lightened intellect, have a boundless scope for gratifi- 
cation ; their least indulgence is delightful, and their 
highest activity is bliss ; they cause no repentance, 
leave no void, but render life a scene at once of peace- 
ful tranquillity and sustained felicity ; and, what is of 
much importance, conduct proceeding from their dic- 
tates carries in its train the highest gratification to the 
animal propensities themselves, of which the latter are 
susceptible. At the same time, it must be observed, 
that the sentiments err, and lead also to evil, when not 
regulated by enlightened intellect ; that intellect in its 
turn must give due weight to the existence and desires 
of both the propensities and sentiments, as elements in 
the human constitution, before it can arrive at sound 
conclusions regarding conduct ; and that rational ac- 
tions and true happiness flow from the gratification of 
all the faculties in harmony with each other ; the sen- 
timents and intellect bearing the directing sway. 

This proposition may be shortly illustrated. Ima- 
gine an individual to commence life, with the thorough 
conviction that the higher sentiments are the superior 
powers, and that they ought to be the sources of his ac- 
tions, the first effect would be to cause him to look 
habitually outward on other men and on his Creator, 
instead of looking inward on himself as the object of 
his highest and chief regard. Benevolence would shed 
on his mind the conviction, that there are other human 
beings as dear to the Creato'r as he, as much entitled 
to enjoyment as he, and that his duty is to seek no 
gratification to himself which is to injure them; but, 
on the contrary, to act so as to confer on them, by his 
daily exertions, all the services in his power. Vene- 
ration would give a strong feeling of reliance on the 
power and wisdom of God, that such conduct would 
conduce to the highest gratification of all his faculties ; 
it would add also an habitual respect for his felluw 
men, as beings deserving his regard, and whose rea- 
sonable wishes he was bound to yield a willing and 
sincere obedience. Lastly, Conscientiousness would 
prompt him to apply the scales of rigid justice to his 
animal desires, and to curb and restrain each so as to 
prevent the slightest infraction on what is due to his 
fellow men. 

Let us trace, then, the operation of these principles 
in ordinary life. Suppose a friendship formed by such 
an individual ; his first and fundamental principle is 
Benevolence, which inspires with a sincere, pure, and 
disinterested regard for his friend ; he desires his well- 
fare for his friend's sake ; next Veneration reinforces 
this love by the secret and grateful acknowledgment, 
which it makes to Heaven for the joys conferred upon 
the mind by this pure emotion, and also by the habitual 
deference which it inspires towards our friend liimself, 
rendering us ready to yield where compliance is becom- 
ing, and curbing our selfish feelings when these would 
intrude by interested or arrogant pretensions on his 
enjoyment ; and thirdly, Conscientiousness, ever on the 
watch proclaims the duty of making no unjust demands 
on the Benevolence of our friend, but of limiting our 
whole intercourse with him on an interchange of kind- 
ness, good offices, and reciprocal affection. Intellect, 
acting along with these principles, would point out, as 
an indispensable requisite to such an attachment, that 
the friend himself should be so far under the influence 
of the sentiments, as to be able, in some degree, to 
meet them ; for, if he were immoral, selfish, vainly 
ambitious, or, in short, under the habitual influence of 
the propensities, the sentiments could not love and re- 
spect him ; they might pity him as unfortunate, but 
love him they could not, because this is impossible by 
the very laws of their constitution. 

Let us now attend to the degree in which such a 
friendship would gratify the lower propensities. In the 
first place, how would Adhesiveness exult and rejoice 
in such an attachment !It would be overpowered with 
delight, because, if the intellect were convinced that 



14 



CONSTITUTION OF' MAN. 



the friend habitually acknowledged the supremacy of 
the higher sentiments, Adhesiveness might pour forth 
all its ardour, and cling to its object with the clos- 
est bonds of affection. The friend would not en- 
croach on us for evil, because his Benevolence and 
Justice would oppose this ; he would not lay aside re- 
straint, and break through the bounds of affection by un- 
due familiarity, because Veneration would forbid this ; he 
would not injure us in our name, person, or reputation, 
because Conscientiousness, Veneration, and Benevo- 
lence, all combined, would prevent such conduct. 
Here then Adhesiveness, freed from the fear of evil, 
from the fear of deceit, from the fear of dishonour, be- 
cause a friend who should habitually act thus, could 
not possibly fall into dishonour, would be at liberty to 
take its deepest draught of aflectionate attachment ; it 
would receive a gratification which it is impossible it 
could attain, wliile acting in combination with the pure- 
ly selfish faculties. What delight, too, would such a 
friendship afford to Self-esteem and Love of Approba- 
tion ! There would be an internal approval of ourselves, 
that would legitimately gratify Self-esteem : because it 
Would arise from a survey of pure motives, and just and 
benevolent actions. Love of Approbation also, would 
be gratified in the highest degree ; for every act of af- 
fection, every expression of esteem, from such a friend, 
would be so purified by Benevolence, Veneration, and 
Conscientiousness, that it would form the legitimate 
food on which Love of Approbation might feast and be 
satisfied ; it would fear no hoilowness beneath, no tat- 
tling in absenccj no secret smoothing over for the sake 
of mere effect, no envyings, and no jealousies. In 
short, friendship founded on the higher sentiments, as 
the ruling motives, would delight the mind with glad- 
ness and sunshine, and gratify all the faculties, animal, 
moral, and intellectual, in harmony with each other. 

By this illustration, the reader will understand more 
clearly what I mean by the harmony of the faculties. 
The fashionable and commercial friendships of which I 
spoke, gratified the propensities of Adhesiveness, Love 
of Approbation, Self-esteem, and Acquisitiveness, but 
left out, as fundamental principles, all the higher senti- 
ments : — there was, therefore, a want of harmony in 
these instances, an absence of full satisfaction, an un- 
certainty and changeableness, which gave rise to only a 
mixed and imperfect enjoyment while- the friendship 
lasted, and to a feeling of painful disappointment, and 
of vanity and vexation, when a rupture occurred. The 
error, in such cases, consists in founding attachment on 
the lower faculties, seeing they, by themselves, are not 
calculated to form a stable basis of affection, instead of 
building it on them and the higher sentiments, which af- 
ford a foundation for real, lasting, and satisfactory friend- 
ship. In complaining of the vanity and vexation of at- 
tachments springing from the lower faculties exclusively, 
we are like men who should try to build a pyramid on 
its smaller end, and then, lament the hardness of their 
fate, and speak of the unkindness of Providence, when 
it fell. A similar analysis of all other pleasures found- 
ed on the animal propensities chiefly, would give simi- 
lar results. In short, happiness must be viewed by 
men as connected inseparably with the exercise of the 
three great classes of faculties, the moral sentiments 
and intellect exercising the directing and controlling 
fway, before it can be permanently attained. 

SECT. v. THE FACULTIES OF MAN COMPARED WITH 

EXTERNAL OBJECTS. 

Having considered man as a ■physical being, and 
briefly adverted to the adaptation of his constitution to 
the physical laws of creation ; having viewed him as an 
organised being, and traced the relations of his organic 
structure to his external circumstances ; having taken 
a rapid survey of his facuUics, as an animal, moral, and 
intollcctual being, — with their uses and the forms of 
their abuse — and having contrasted these faculties with 



each other, and discovered the supremacy of thd moral 
sentiments and intellect, I proceed to compare his fa- 
culties with external objects, in order to discover what 
provision has been made for their gratification. 

1. Amativeness is a feeling obviously necessary to the 

continuance of the species ; and one which, pro- 
perly regulated, is not offensive to reason ; — oppo- 
site sexes exist to provide for its gratification.* 

2. Philoprogenitiveness is given, and offspring exist. 

3. Concentrativeness is conferred, — and the other 

faculties are its objects. 

4. Adhesiveness is given, — and country and friends 

exist. 

5. Combativeness is bestowed, — and physical and 

moral obstacles exist, requiring courage to meet 
and subdue them. 

6. Destructiveness is given,. — and man is constituted 

with a carnivorous stomach, and animals to be 
killed and eaten exist. Besides, the whole combi- 
nations of creation are in a state of decay and re- 
novation. In the animal kingdom almost evfery 
species of creatures is the prey of some other ; 
and the faculty of Destructiveness places the hu- 
man mind in harmony with this order of creation. 
Destruction makes way for renovation, and the act 
of renovation furnishes occasion for the activity of 
our powers ; and activity is pleasure. That de- 
struction is a natural institution is unquestionable. 
Not only has nature taught the spider to construct 
a web for the purpose of ensnaring flies, that it 
may devour them, and constituted beasts of prey 
with carnivorous teeth, but she has formed even 
plants, such as the Drosera, to catch and kill flie«, 
and use them for food. Destructiveness serves 
also to give weight to indignation, a most import- 
ant defensive as well as vindicatory purpose. It 
is a check upon undue encroachment, and tends to 
constrain mankind to pay regard to the rights and 
feelings of each other. When properly regulated. 
it is an able assistant to justice. 

7. Constructiveness is given, — and materials for con- 
structing artificial habitations, raiment, ships, and 
various other fabrics that add to the enjoyment of 
hfe, have been provided to give it scope. 

S. Acquisitiveness is bestowed, — and property exists 
capable of being collected, preserved, and apphed 
to use. 

9. Secretiveness is given, — and our faculties possess 

internal activity requiring to be restrained, until fit 
occasions and legitimate objects present themselves 
for their gratification ; which restraint is rendered 
not only possible but agreeable, by the propensity 
in question. While we suppress and confine one 
feeling within the limits of our own consciousness, 
we exercise and gratify another in the very act of 
doing so. , 

10. Self-Esteem is given, — and we have an individual 
existence and individual interests, as its objects. 

11. Love of Approbation is bestowed, — and we are 

surrounded by our fellow men, whose good opin- 
ion is the object of its desire. 

12. Cautiousness is given, and it is admirably adapt- 
ed to the nature of the external world. The hu- 
man body is combustible, is liable to be destroyed 
by violence, to suffer injury from extreme wet and 
winds, &c ; and it is necessary for us to be habitu- 
ally watchful to avoid these sources of calamity. 
Accordingly, Cautiousness is bestowed on us as 
an ever watchful sentinel, constantly whispering, 
' Take care.' There is ample scope for the legiti- 
mate and pleasureable exercise of all our faculties, 
without running into these evils, provided we know 
enough, and are watchful enough ; and, therefore, 

* The nature anil sphere of activity ofthe phrenological facul- 
t\e^ is explaiiieil at length In the ' System uf Phrenolngy,' to 
which I beg to refer. Here I can only indicate general ideas. 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN, 



16 



Cautiousnes3S is not ovenvhelmed with inevitable 
terrors. It serves merely as awarder to excite us 
to beware of sudden and unexpected danger ; it 
keeps the other faculties at their post, by furnish- 
ing a stimulous to them to observe and trace con- 
sequences, that safety may be insured ; and, when 
these other faculties do their duty i^ proper form, 
the impulses of Cautiousness are not painful, but 
the reverse : they communicate a feeling of inter- 
nal security and satisfaction, expressed by the 
motto Semper paratus ; and hence this faculty ap- 
pears equally benevolent in its design, as the others 
which we have contemplated. 

Here, then, we perceive a- beautiful provision made 
for supporting the activity of, and affording legitimate 
gratification to, the lower propensities. These powers 
are conferred on us clearly to support our animal na- 
ture, and to place us in harmony with the external ob- 
jects of creation. So far from their being injurious or 
base in themselves, they possess the dignity of utility, 
and the estimable quality of being sources of high en- 
joyment, when legitimately indulged. The phrenolo- 
gist, therefore, would never seek to extirpate, nor to 
weaken them too much. He desires only to see their 
excessBvS controlled, and their exercise directed in ac- 
cordance with the great institutions and designs of the 
Creator. 

The ne.'ft class of faculties is that of the moral sen- 
timents proper to man. These are the following : 

Benevolence is given^ — and sentient and entelligent 
beings are created, whose happiness we are able to 
increase, thereby affording it its scope and delight. 
It is an error to imagine, that creatures in misery 
are the only objects of benevolence, and that it has 
no function but the excitement of pity. It is a 
Tvido-spreading fountain of generous feeling, desi- 
ring for its gratification not only the removal of 
pain, but the maintenance and augmentation of 
positive enjoyment ; and the happier it can ren- 
der its objects, the more complete are its satisfac- 
tion and dcUght. Its exercise, like that of all the 
other faculties, is a source of great pleasure to the 
individual himself; and nothing can be conceived 
more admirably adapted for affording it scope, than 
the system of creation exhibited on earth. From 
the nature of the human faculties, each individual, 
without injuring himself, has it in his power to 
confer prodigious benefits, or, in other words, to 
pour forth the most co])ious stream.s of benevo- 
lence on others, by legitimately gratifying their 
Adhesiveness, Constructivencss, Acquisitiveness, 
Love of Approbation, Self-Esteem, Cautiousness, 
Veneration, Hope, Ideality, Conscientiousness, 
and their Knowing and Reflecting Faculties. 

Veneration. — The legitimate object of this faculty is 
the Divine Being ; and I assume here, that Phre- 
nology ena'iles us to demonstrate the existence of 
God. The very essay in which I am now engaged, 
is an attempt at an exposition of some of his at- 
tributes, as manifested in this world. If we shall 
find contrivance, wisdom, and benevolence in his 
works, unchangeableness, and no shadow of turn- 
ing in his laws ; perfect harmony in each depart- 
ment of creation, and shall discover that the evils 
which afflict us are much less the direct objects of 
his arrangements than the consequences of igno- 
rant neglect of institutions calculated for our en- 
joyment, — then we shall acknowledge in the Divine 
Being an object whom we may love with our whole 
soul, reverence with the deepest emotions of ve- 
neration, and on whom Hope and Conscientious- 
ness may repose with a perfect and unhesitating 
reliance. The exercise of this sentiment is in it- 
self, a great positive enjoyment, when the object 
is in harmony with all our other faculties. Fur- 
B 



ther, its activity disposes us to yield obedience to 
the Creator's laws, the object of which is our 
own happiness ; and hence its exercise is in the 
highest degree provided for. Revelation unfojfls 
the character and intentions of God where reasoa 
cannot penetrate, but its doctrines do not fall with- 
in the limits prescribed to this Essay. 

Hope is given, — and our understanding, by disc jvering 
the laws of nature, is enabled to penetrate into 
the future. This sentiment, then, is gratified by 
the absolute reliance which Causality warrants ua 
to place on the stability and wisdom of the Divine 
arrangements ; its legitimate exercise, in reference 
to this life, is to give us a vivifying faith, that while 
we suffer evil, we are undergoing a chastisement 
for having neglected the institutions of the Crea- 
tor, the object of which punishment is to force us 
back into the right path. Revelation presents to 
Hope the certainty of a life to come ; and directs 
all our faculties in points of Faith. 

Ideality is bestowed, — and not only is external nature 
, invested with the most exquisite lovehness, but a 
capacity for moral and intellectual refinement is 
given to us, by which we may rise in the scale of 
excellence, and at every step of our progress reap 
direct enjoyment from this sentiment. Its con- 
stant desire is for ' something more excellent still :' 
in its own immediate im.pulses it is delightful, and 
external nature and our own faculties respond to 
its call. 

Wonder prompts to admiration, and desires something 
new. When we contemplate man endowed with 
intellect to discover a Deity and to comprehend his 
works, we cannot doubt of Wonder being provi- 
ded with objects for its intensesl exercise ; and 
when we view him placed in a world where all old 
things are constantly passing away, and a system 
of renovation is incessantly proceeding, we see at 
once how vast a provision is made for the gratifica- 
tion of his desire of novelty, and how admirably it is 
calculated to impel his other faculties to activity. 

Conscientiousness exists, — and it is necessary to 
prove that all the divine institutions are founded 
in justice, to afibrd it full satisfaction. This is a 
point which many regard as involved in much ob- 
scurity : I shall endeavour in this Essay to hft the 
veil, for to me justice appears to flow tlirough every 
divine institution. 

One difficulty in regard to Conscientiousness, long ap- 
peared inexplicable ; it was, how to reconcile with 
Benevolence the institution by which this facul- 
ty visits us vvith remorse, after offonces are ac- 
tually committed, instead of arresting our hands 
by an irresistible veto before them, so as to save 
us from from th# perpetration altogether. The 
problem is solved by the principle, ' That happi- 
ness consists in the activity of our faculties, and 
that the arrangement of punishment after the of- 
fence is 'far more conducive to activity than the 
opposite. For example, if we desired to enjoy 
the highest gratification of Locality, Form, Cor 
louring. Ideality, and Wonder, in exploring a new 
country, replete with the most exquisite beauties 
of scenery, and most captivating natural produc- 
tions, and if we found among these, precipices that 
gi-atified Ideality in the highest degree, but which- 
endangered life when we advanced so near as to 
fall over them, and neglected the law of gravitation, 
whether would it be most bountiful for Provideiice 
to send an invisible attendant with us, who, when- 
ever we were about to approach the brink, should in- 
terpose a barrier, and fairly cut short our advance, 
without requiring us to bestow one thought upon 
the subject, and without our knowing when to ex- 
. pect it and when not, — or to leave all open, but to 
confer on us, as he has done, eyes fitt^ed to see Uio 



16 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



precipice, faculties to comprehend the law of gra- 
vitation, Cautiousness to make us fear the infringe- 
ment of it, and then to leave us to enjoy the scene 
in perfect safety if we used these powers, but to 
fall over and suffer pain by bruises and death if we 
neglected to exercise them ! It is obvious that 
tlie latter arrangement would give far more scope 
to our various powers ; and if active faculties are 
the soiu-ces of pleasure, as will be shown in the 
next section, then it would contribute niore to our 
enjoyment than the other. Now, Conscientious- 
ness punishing after the fact, is analogous- in the 
moral world, to this arrangement in the physical. 
If Intellect, Benevolence, Veneration, and Con- 
scientiousness, do their parts, they will give dis- 
tinct intimations of disapprobation before commis- 
sion of the offence, just as Cautiousness will give 
intimations of danger at sight of the cliff; but if 
these are disregarded, and we fall over the moral 
precipice, remorse follows as the punishment, just 
as pain is the chastisement for tumbling over the 
physical brink. The object of both institutions is, 
to permit and encourage the most vigorous and 
unrestrained exercise of our faculties, in accord- 
ance with the physical, moral, and intellectual laws 
of nature, and to punish us only when we trans- 
gress these limits. 
Firmness is bestowed, — and the other faculties of the 
mind are its objects. It supports and maintains 
their activity, and gives determination to our pur- 
poses. * 

The next Class of Faculties is the Intellectual. 
"The provisions in external nature for the gratification 
*f the Sc'jises of Hearing, Seeing, Smelling, Taste, 
and Touch or Feeling, are so obvious that it is unne- 
ceisary to enlarge upon them. 

Individuality and Eventuality, or the powers of 
observing things that exist, and occurrences, are 
given, and ' all the truths which Natural Philoso- 
phy teaches, depend upon matter of fact, and that 
is learned by observation and experiment, and never 
could be discovered by reasoning at all.' Here, 
then, is ample scope for the exercise of these 
powers. 

/'and the sciences of Ge- 
ometry, Arithmetic, Al- 
gebra, Geography, Che- 
mistry, Botany, Mineral- 
ogy, Zoology, Anatomy, 
and various others, exist, 
as the fields of their ex- 
ercise. The first three 
sciences are almost the 
entire products of these 
faculties; the others re- 
sult chiefly from them, 
when applied on external 
objects. 

/'and these, aided by Con- 

[ structiveness. Form, Local- 

1 ity, Ideality, and other facul- 

^ ' '. ties, find scope in Painting, 

Sculpture, Poetry, and the 

other fine arts. 

Language is given, — and our faculties inspire us with 
lively emotions and ideas, which we desire to com- 
municate by its means to other indviduals. 

■\ /"and these faculties, aided by In- 

dividuality, Form, Size, Weight, 
Comparison, I and others already enumerated, 

Causality, >exist,< find ample gratification inNatu- 
,WlT, I ral Philosophy, in Moral, Politi- 

cal and Intellectual Science, and 
J I their different branches. 



Form, 

Size, 

Weight, 

Locality, 

Order, 

Number, 



Colouring, 
Time, 

Tune, 



^are bestowed, 



Imitation is bestowed, — and every where man is sur- 
rounded by beings and objects whose actions and 
appearances it may benefit him to copy. 

SECT. VI. ON THE SOURCES OF HUMAN HAPPINESS, AND 

THE CONDITIONS REQUISITE FOR MAINTAINING IT. 

Having now given a rapid sketch of the Constitu- 
tion of Man, and its relations to external objects, we 
are prepared to inquire into the sources of his happiness, 
and the conditions requisite for maintaining it. 

The first and most obvious circumstance which at- 
tracts attention, is, that all enjoyment must necessarily 
arise from activity of the various systems of which the 
human constitution is composed. The bones, muscles, 
nerves, digestive and respiratory organs, furnish pleasing 
sensations, .directly or indirectly, when exercised in 
conformity with their nature ; and the external senses, 
and internal faculties, when excited, supply the whole 
remaining perceptions and emotions, which, when com- 
bined, constitute life and rational existence. If these 
were habitually buried in sleep, or constitutionally in 
active, life, to all purposes of enjoyment, might as well 
be extinct ; for existence would be reduced to mere ve- 
getation, without Consciousness. 

If, then, Wisdom and Benevolence have been en» • 
ployed in constituting Man, we may expect the arrange- 
ments of creation, in regard to him, to be calculated as 
a leading object to excite his various powers, corporeal 
and mental, to activity. ' This, accordingly, appears to 
me to be the case ; and the fact may be illustrated by 
a few examples. A certain portion of nervous and 
muscular energy is infused by nature into the human 
body every twenty-four hours, and it is delightful to 
expend this vigour. To provide for its expenditure, 
the stomach has been constituted so as to require regu- 
larly returning supplies of food, which can be obtained 
only by nervous and muscular exertion ; the body has 
been created destitute of covering, yet standing in need 
of protection from the elements of Heaven ; but this 
can be easily provided by moderate expenditure of cor- 
poreal strength. It is delightful to repair exhausted 
nervous and muscular energy by wholesome aliment ; 
and the digestive organs have been so constituted, as 
to perform their functions by successive stages, and ta 
afford us_ frequent opportunities of enjoying the plea- 
sure of eating. In these arrangements, the design of 
supporting the various systems of the body in activity, 
for the enjoyment of the individual, is abundantly obvi- 
ous. A late writer justly remarks, that ' a person of 
feeble texture and indolent habits has the bone smooth, 
thin, and light ; but nature, solicitous for our safety, in 
a manner which we could not anticipate, combines with 
the powerful muscular frame a dense and perfect tex- 
ture of bone, where every spine and tubercle is com- 
pletely developed.' ' As the structure of the parts is 
originally perfected by the action of the vessels, the 
function or operation of the part is made the stimulus 
to those vessels. The cuticle on the hand wears away 
like a glove ; but the pressure stimulate? the living 
surface to force successive layers of skin under that 
which is wearing, or, as anatomists call it, desquamat- 
ing ; by which they mean, that the cuticle does not 
change at once, but comes off in squamse or scales. 

Directing our attention to the Mind, we discover that 
Individuality, and the other Perceptive Faculties, de- 
sire, as their means of enjoyment, to know existence, 
and to become acquainted with the quaUties of ex ternal 
objects ; while the Reflecting Faculties desire to know 
their dependences and relations. '' There is some- 
thing,' says an eloquent writer, ' positively agree.ible to 
all men, to all, at least, whose nature is not most gro- 
velling and base, in gaining knowledge for its own 
sake. When you see any thipg for the fii'st time, you 
at once derive some gratification from the sight being 
new ; your attention is awakened, you desire to know 
more about it. If it is a piece of workmanship, as an 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



17 



instrument, a machine of any kind, you wish to know 
how it is made ; how it works ; and what use it is of. 
If It is an animal, you desire to know where it comes 
from ; how it lives ; what are its dispositions, and, ge- 
nerally, its nature and habits. This desire is felt, too, 
without at all considering that the machine or the ani- 
mal may ever be of the least use to yourself practically ; 
for, in all probability, you may never see them again. 
But you feel a curiosity to learn all about them, he- 
cause they are new and unknown to you. You, accord- 
ingly make inquiries ; you feel a gratification in getting 
answers to your questions, that is, in receiving informa- 
tion, and in knowing more, — in being better informed 
than you were before. If you ever happen again to 
see the same instrument of animal you find it agree- 
able to recollect having seen it before and to -think 
that you know something about it. If you see another 
instrument or animal, in some respects like, but differ- 
ing in other particulars, you find it pleasing to compare 
them together, and to note in what they agree, and in 
what they differ. Now, all this kind of gratification is 
of a pure and disinterested nature, and has no refer- 
ence to any of the common purposes of life ; yet it is 
a pleasure — an enjoyment. You are nothing the richer 
for it ; you do not gratify your palate, or any other bo- 
dily appetite ; and yet it is so pleasing that you would 
give something out of your pocket to obtain it, and 
would forego some bodily enjoyment for its sake. The 
pleasure derived from science is exactly of the like na- 
ture, or rather it is the very same.'* This is a correct 
and forcible exposition of the pleasures attending the 
active exercise of our intellectual faculties. 

Supposing the human faculties to have received their 
present constitution, two arrangemeiits may be fancied 
as instituted for the gratification of these powers. 1st. 
Infusing into them at birth intuitive knowledge of every 
object which they are fitted ever to comprehend ; or, 
2dly. Constituting them only as capacities for gaining 
knowledge by exercise and application, and surround- 
ing them with objects bearing such relations towards 
them, that when observed and attended to, they shall 
afford them high gratification ; and, when unobserv'ed 
and neglected, they shall occasion them uneasiness and 
pain ; and the question occurs, Which mode would be 
most conducive to enjoyment 1 The general opinion 
will be in favor of the first ; but the second appears 
to mo to be preferable. If the first meal we had 
eaten had for ever prevented the recurrence of hunger, 
it is obvious that all the pleasures of satisfying a 
healthy appetite would have been then at an end ; so 
that this apparent bounty would have greatly abridged 
our enjoyment. In like manner, if, our faculties being 
constituted as at present, intuitive knowledge had been 
communicated to us, so that, when an hour old, we 
should have been thoroughly acquainted with every 
object, quality, and relation that we could ever compre- 
hend, all provision for the sustained activity of many of 
our faculties would have been done away with. When 
v?ealth is acquired, the miser's pleasure in it is dimin- 
ished. He grasps after more with increasing avidity. 
He is supposed irrational in doing so ; but he obeys 
the instinct of his nature. What he possesses no longer 
satisfies Acquisitiveness ; it is like food in the stomach, 
■which gave pleasure in eating, and would give pain 
were it withdrawn, but which, when there, is attended 
with little positive sensation. The Miser's pleasure 
arises from the active state of Acquisitiveness, and 
only the pursuit and obtaining of new treasure can main- 
tain this state. The same law is exemplified in the 
case of Love of Approbation. The gratification which 
it affords depends upon its active sta,te, and' hence the 
necessity for new incense and higher mounting in the 
scale of ambition, is constantly experienced by its vic- 
ixms. Napoleon, in exile, said, ' Let us live upon the 
past :' but he found this impossible ; his predominat- 
* Objects, Advantages, and Pleasures of Science, page Z. 

15* 



ing desires originated in Ambition and Self-esteem; 
and the past did not stimulate these powers, or main- ' 
tain them in constant activity. In like manner, no 
musician, artist, poet, or philosopher, would reckon 
himself happy, however extensive his attainments, if 
informed. Now you must stop, and live upon the past ; 
and the reason is still the same. New ideas, and new 
emotions, best excite and maintain in activity the facul- 
ties of the mind, and activity is essential to enjoyment. 
If these views be correct, the consequences of imbu- 
ing the mind with intuitive knowledge, would not have 
been unquestionably beneficial. The limits of our ac- 
quirements would have been reached ; our first step 
would have been our last ; every object would have 
become old and familiar ; Hope would have had no ob- 
ject of expectation ; Cautiousness no object of fear ; 
Wonder no gratification in novelty ; monotony, insipi- 
dity, and mental satiety, would appai-ently have been 
the lot of man. 

According to the view now advanced, creation, in 
its present form, is more wisely and benevolently adapted 
to our constitution than if intuitive instruction had been 
showered on the mind at birth. By the actual arrange- 
ment, numerous noble faculties are bestowed ; their 
objects are presented to them ; these objects are natu- 
rally endowed with qualities fitted to benefit and de. 
light us, when their uses and proper applications are 
discovered, and to injure and punish us for our igno- 
rance, when their properties are misunderstood or mis- 
applied ; but we are left to find out all these quahties 
and relations by the exercise of the faculties them- 
selves. In this manner, provision is made for ceaseless 
activity of the mental powers, and this constitutes the 
greatest delight. Wheat, for instance, is produced by 
■ the earth, and admirably adapted to the nutrition of the 
body ; but it may be rendered more grateful to the or- 
gan of taste, more salubrious to the stomach, and more 
stimulating to the nervous and muscular systems, by 
being stripped of its external skin, ground into flour, 
and (baked by fire into bread. Now, the Creator obvi- 
ously pre-arranged ail these relations, when he endowed 
wheat with its properties, and the human body with its 
qualities and functions. In withholding congenial and 
intuitive knowledge of these qualities and mutual rela- 
tions, but in bestowing faculties of Individuality, Form, 
Colouring, Weight, Constructiveness, &c, fitted to 
find them out ; in rendering the exercise of these facul- 
ties agreeable ; and in leaving man, in this coridition, 
to proceed for himself, — he appears to me to have co«- 
ferred on him the highest boon. The earth produces 
also hemlock and foxglove ; and, by the organic law, 
those substances, if taken in certain moderate quanti- 
ties, remove diseases ; if in excess, they occasion 
death : but. again, man's observing faculties are fitted, 
when applied under the guidance of Cautiousness and 
Reflection, to make this discovery ; and he is left to 
make it in this way, or suffer the consequences of 
neglect. 

Farther, water, when elevated in temperature, be- 
comes steam ; and steam expands with prodigious 
power ; this power, confined by muscular energy, ex- 
. erted on metal, and directed by intellect, is capable of 
being converted into the steam-engine, the most effi- 
cient, yet humble servant of man. All this was clearly 
pre-arranged by the Creator ; and man's faculties were 
adapted to it ; but still we see him left to observe and 
discover the qualities and relations of water for himself. 
This duty, however, must be acknowledged as benevo- 
lently imposed, the moment we discover that the Crea- 
tor has made the very exercise of the faculties pleasura- 
ble, and -arranged external qualities and relations so 
beneficially, that, when known, they carry a double re- 
ward in adding by their positive influence to human 
gratification. 

The Knowing Faculties, as we have seen, observe 
the mere external qualities of bodies, and ihfir simpler 



18 



^CONSTITUTION OF MAN, 



relations. The Reflecting Faculties observe relations 
also ; but of a higher order. The former, for example, 
discover that the soil is clay or gravel ; that it is tough 
or friable ; that it is wet, and that excess of water im- 
pedes vegetation ; that in one season the crop is large, 
and in the next deficient. The reflecting faculties take 
cognizance of the causes of these phenomena. They 
discover the meaiis by which wet soil may be rendered 
dry ; clay may be pulverized ; light soil may be invigo- 
rated ; and all of them made more productive ; also the 
relationship of particular soils to particular kinds of 
grain. The inhabitants of a country who exert their 
knowing faculties in observing the qualities of their 
soil, their reflecting faculties in discovering its capa- 
bilities and relations to water, lime, maimres, and the 
various species of grain, a,nd who put forth their mus- 
cular and nervous energies in accordance with the dic- 
tates of these powers, receive a rich reward in a cli- 
mate improved in salubrity, in an abundant supply of 
food, besides much positive enjoyment attending the 
exercise of the powers themselves. Those communi- 
ties, on the other hand, who neglect to use their mental 
faculties and muscular and nervous encigies, are pun- 
ished by ague, fever, rheumatism, and a variety of painful 
affections, arising from damp air ; are stinted in food ; 
and, in wet seasons, are brought to the very brink of 
starvation by total failure of their crops. This punish- 
ment is a benevolent admonition from the Creator, that 
they are neglecting a great duty, and omitting to enjoy 
a great pleasure ; and it will cease as soon as they have 
fairly redeemed the blessings lost by their negligence, 
and obeyed the laws of their being. v. 

The wmds and waves appear, at first sight, to pr-e- 
sent insurmountable obstacles to man leaving the island 
or continent on which he happens to be born, and to 
his holding intercourse with his ■ fellows in distant 
chmes : But, by observing the relations of water to tim- 
ber, he is able to construct a shij) ; by observing the 
influence of the wind on a physical body placed in a 
fluid medium, he discovers the use of sails ; and, finally, 
by the application of his faculties, he has found out the 
expansive quality of steam, and traced its relations un- 
til he has produced a machine that enables him almost 
to set the roaring tempest at defiance, and to sail 
straight to the stormy north, although its loudest and its 
fiercest blasts oppose. In these instances, we perceive 
external nature admirably adapted to support the men- 
tal faculties in habitual activity, and to reward us for 
the exercise of them. 

It is objected to this argument, that it involves an 
inconsistency. Ignorance, it is said, of the natural 
laws, is necessary to happiness, in order that the facul- 
ties may obtain exercise in discovering them : — never- 
theless, happiness is im.possible till these laws shall 
have been discovered and obeyed. Here, then, it is 
said, ignorance is represented as at once esse?itial to, 
and incompatible with enjoyment. The same objection, 
however, applies to the case of the bee. Gathering 
honey is necessary to its enjoyment ; yet it cannot sub- 
sist and be happy till it has gathered honey, and there- 
fore that act is both essential to, and incompatible with 
its gratification. The fallacy lies in losing sight of the 
natural constitution both of the bee and of man. While 
the bee possesses instinctive tendencies to roam about 
the ficids and flowery meadows, and to exert its ener- 
gies in labour, it is obviously beneficial to it to be fur- 
nished with motives and opportunities for doing so ; 
and so it is with man to obtain scope for his bodily and 
mental powers. Now, gathering knowledge is to the 
mind of man what gathering honey is to the bee. Ap- 
parently with the view- of eftcctually prompting the bee 
to seek this pleasure, honey is made essential to its 
sut^istence. In like manner, and probably with a simi- 
lar design, knowledge is made indispensable to human 
enjoyment. Communicating intuitive knowledge of 
the natural laws to man, while his present corislitution 



conthmcs, would be the exact parallel of gorging the 
bee with honey in midsummer, when its energies are at 
their height. When the bee has completed its store, 
winter benumbs its powers, which resume their vigour 
■ only when its stock is exhausted, and spring returns to 
afford them scope. No torpor resembling that of win- 
ter seals up the faculties of the human race ; but their 
ceaseless activity is amply provided for. First, The 
laws of nature, compared with the mind of any mdi- 
vidual, are of boundless extent, so that every one may 
learn something new to the end of the longest life. 
Secondly, By the actual constitution of man, he must 
make use of his acquirements habitually, otherwise he 
will lose them. Thirdly, Every individual of the race 
is born in utter ignorance, and starts from zero in the 
scale of knowledge, so that he has the laws to learn for 
himself. 

These circumstances remove the apparent incon- 
sistency. If man had possessed intuitive knowledge of 
all nature, he could have had no scope for exercising 
his faculties in acquiring knowledge, in preserving it, 
or in communicating- it. The infant would have been 
as wise as the most revered sage, and forgetfulness 
would have been necessarily excluded. 

Those who object to these views, imagine that after 
the human race has acquired knowledge of all the natu- 
ral laws, if such a result be possible, they will be in the 
same condition as if they had been created ivith intuitive 
knowledge ; but this does not follow. Although the 
race should acquire the knowledge supposed, it is not 
an inevitable consequence that each individual will ne- 
cessarily enjoy it all ; which, however, would follow 
from intuition. The entire soil of. Britain belongs to 
the landed proprietors as a class ; but each does not 
possess it all ; and hence every one has scope for add- 
ing to his territories ; with this advantage, however, in 
favour of knowledge, that the acquisitions of one do not 
impoverish another. Farther, although the race should 
have learned all the natural laws, their children would 
not intuitively inherit their ideas, and hence the activity 
of every one, as he appears on the stage, would be pro- 
vided for ; whereas, by intuition, every child would be 
as wise a» his grandfather, and parental protection, 
filial piety, and all the delights that spring from ditfer- 
ence in knowledje between youth and age, would be 
excluded. 3d, Using of acquirements, is, by the ac- 
tual state of man, essential to the preservation as well 
as the enjoyment of them. By intuition all knowledge 
would be habitually present to the mind without effort 
or consideration. On the whole, therefore, it appears 
that man's nature being what it is, the arrangement by 
which he is endowed with powers to acquire knowledge, 
but left to find it out for himself, is both wise and be- 
nevolent. 

It has been asked, ' But is there no pleasure in sci- 
ence but that of discovery 1 Is there none in using 
the knowledcre we have attained 1 Is there no plea- 
sure in playing at chess after we know tiie moves '! In 
answer, I observe, that if we know beforehand all the 
moves that our antagonist intends to make and all our 
own, which must bo the case if we know even/thing 
by intuition, we shall have no pleasure. l"he pleasure 
really consists in discovering the intentions of our an- 
tagonist, and in calculating the effects of our own 
plav ; a certain degree of ignorance of both of which 
is indispensable to gratification. In like manner, it is 
agreeable first to discover the natural laws, and then to 
study ' the moves' that we ought to make, in conse- 
quence of knowing them. So much, then, for the 
sources of human happiness. 

In the second place, To reap enjoyment in the great- 
est quantity, and to maintain it most permanenlly, the 
faculties must be gratified harmoniously : In other 
words, if, among the various powers, the supremacy 
belongs to the moral sentiments, then the aim of our 
hab:'"ial conduct must be the attainment of objects 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



19 



suited to gratify them. For example, in pursuing 
wealth or fame as the leading object of existence, full 
gratification is not afforded to Benevolence, Venera- 
tion, and Conscientiousness, and, consequently, com- 
plete satisfaction cannot be enjoyed ; whereas, by seek- 
ing knowledge, and dedicating life to the welfare of 
mankind, and obedience to God, in our several voca- 
tions, these faculties will be gratified, and wealth, 
fame, health, and other advantages, will flow in ihkir 
train, so that the whole mind will rejoice, and its de- 
lights will remain permanent as long as the conduct 
contir UPS to be in accordance with the supremacy of 
the moral powers and the laws of external creation. 

lliirdly. To place human happiness on a secure 
basis, the laws of external creation themselves must 
" accord with the dictates of the moral sentiments, and 
intellect must be fitted to discover the nature and re- 
lations of both, and to direct the conduct in coinci- 
tlence with them. 

Much has been written about the extent of hjiman 
ignorance ; but we should discriminate between abso- 
lute incapacity to know, and mere want of information 
arising from not having used this capacity to its full ex- 
. tent. In regard to the first, or our capacity to know, 
it appears probable that, in this world, we shall never 
know the essence, beginning, or end of things ; be- 
cause these are points which we have no faculties cal- 
culated to reach ; But the same Creator who made the 
external world constituted our faculties, and if we have 
sufficient data for inferring that His intention is, that 
we shall enjoy existence here while preparing for the 
ulterior ends of our being ; and if it be true that we can 
be happy here only by becoming acquainted with the 
qualities and modes of action of our ov;n minds and bo- 
dies, with the qualities and modes of action of external 
objects, and with the relations establishedbetween them ; 
in short, by becoming thoroughly conversant with those 
natural laws, which, when observed, are pre-arranged 
to contribute to our enjoyment, and which, when vio- 
lated, visit us with suffering, we may safely conclude 
that our mental capacities are wisely adapted to the at- 
tainment of these objects, whenever we shall do our 
own duty in bringing them to their highest condition of 
perfection, and in applying them in the best manner.. 

If we advert for a moment to what v/e already know, 
we shall see that this conclusion is supported by high 
probabilities. Before the mariner's compass and astro- 
nomy were discovered, nothing would seem more ut- 
terly beyond the reach of the human faculties than tra- 
versing the enormous Atlantic or Pacific Oceans ; but 
the moment these discoveries were made, how simple 
did this feat appear, and how completely within the 
, scope of human ability ! But it became so, not by any 
addition to man's mental capacities, nor by any change 
in the physical world ; but by the easy process of ap- 
plying Individuality, and the other knowing faculties, 
to observe, Causality to reflect, and Constrnctiveness 
to build ; in short, to perform their natural functions. 
Who that, forty years ago, regarded the small-pox as 
a scourge, devastating Europe, Asia, Africa, and Ame- 
rica, would not have de.spaired of the human faculties 
ever discovering an antidote against it 1 and yet we 
have lived to see this end accomplished by a simple ex- 
ercise of Individuality and Reflection, in observing the 
effects of, and applying vaccine innoculation. Nothing 
appears more completely beyond the reacli of the human 
* intellect, than the cause of volcanoes and earthquakes ; 
and yet some approach towards its discovery has re- 
cently been made.* 

Sir Isaac Newton observed, that all bodies which 
refracted the rays of light were combustible, except 
one, the diamond, which he found to possess this qua- 
lity, but which he was not able, by any powers he pos- 
Bessed, to burn. He did not conclude, however, from 
this, that the diamond was an exception to the uni- 
* Viile Cordier, in Edin. New Phil. Journ. No. VIII, p. 273. 



formity of nature. He inferred, that, as the same Cre-^ 
ator made the refracting bodies wliich'he was able to 
consume, and the diamond, and proceeded by uniform 
laws, the diamond would, in all probability, be found to 
be combustible, and that the reason of its resisting his 
power, was ignorance on his part of the proper way to 
produce its conflagration. A century afterwards, che- 
mists made the diamond blaze with as much vivacity as 
Sir Isaac Newton had done a wax candle. Let us pro- 
ceed, then, on an analogous-principle. If the intention 
of our Creator- was, that v/e should enjoy existence 
while in this world, then He knew what was necessary 
to enable us to do so ; and He will not be found to 
have failed in conferring on us powers fitted to accom- 
plish His d«sign, provided we do our duty in develop- 
ing and applying them. The great motive to exertion 
is the conviction, that increased knowledge will furnish 
us with increased means of doing good, — with ncv^r 
proofs of benevolence and wisdom in the Great Archi- 
tect of the Universe. 

The human race may be regarded as only in the be- 
ginning of iis existence. The art of printing is an in- 
vention comparatively but of yesterday, and no ima- 
gination can yet conceive the efl!ects vifhich it is des- 
tined to produce. Phrenology was Viranting to give it 
full efficacy, especially in moral science, in which little 
progress has been made for centuries. Now that this 
desideratum is supplied, may we not hope that the 
march of improvement will proceed in a rapidly accele- 
rating ratio '! 

SECT. VII. APPLICATION OP THE NATURAL LAWS TO 

THE PRACTICAL ARRANGEMENTS OF LIFE. 

If a system of living and occupation were to be 
framed for human beings, founded on the exposition of 
their nature,^hich I have now given, it would be some- 
thing like this. 

\st. So many hours a day would require to be dedi- 
cated by every individual in health, to the exercise of 
his nervous and muscular systems, in labour calculated 
to give scope to these functions. The reward of obey- 
ing this requisite of his nature would be health, and a 
joyous animal existence ; the punishment of neglect is 
disease, low spirits, and death. 

"idhj. So many hours a day should be spent in the ' 
sedulous employment of the knowing and reflecting 
faculties; in studying the qualities of external objects, 
and their relations ; also the nature of all animated be 
ings, and their relations ; not with the view of accu- 
mulating mere abstract and barren knowledge, but of 
enjoying the positive pleasure of, mental activity, and 
of turning every discovery to account, as a means of 
increasing happiness, or alleviating misery. The lead- 
ing object should always be to find out the relationship 
of every object to our own nature, organic, animal, 
moral, and intellectual, and to keep that relationship 
habitually in mind, so as to render our acquirements di- 
rectly gratifying to our various faculties. The reward 
of this conduct would be an incalculably great increase 
of pleasure, in the very act of acquiring knowledge of 
the real properties of external objects, together with a 
great accession of power in reaping ulterior advantages, 
and in avoiding disagreeable affections. 

Zdly. So many hours a day ought to be devoted to 
the cultivation and gratification of our moral senti- 
ments ; that is to say, in exercising these in harmony 
with intellect, and especially in acquiring the habit of 
admiring, loving, and yielding obedience to the Creator 
and his institutions. This last object is of vast ii aport- 
ance. Intellect is barren of practical fruit, however 
rich it mav be in knowledge, until it is fii ed and prompt- 
ed to act by moral sentiment. In my view, knowledge 
by itself is comparatively worthless and impotent com- 
pared with what it becomes when vivified by elevated 
emotions. It is not enough that Intellect is informed ; 
the. moral faculties must simultaneously co-opeiate ; 



20 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



yielding obedience to the precepts which the intellect 
recognises to be true. One way of cultivating the 
sentiments would be for men to meet and act together, 
on the fixed principles which I am now endeavouring 
to unfold, and to exercise on each other in mutual in- 
struction, and in united adoration of the great and glo- 
rious Creator, the several faculties of Benevolence, 
Veneration, Hope, Ideality, Wonder, and Justice. The 
reward of acting in this manner v/ould be a communi- 
cation of direct and intense pleasure to each other : for 
I refer to every individual who has ever had the good 
fortune to pass a day or an hour with a really benevo- 
lent, pious, honest, and intellectual man, whose soul 
swelled with adoration of his Creator, whose intellect 
■was replenished with knowledge of his works, and whose 
whole mind was instinct with sympathy for human hap- 
piness, whether such a day did not afford him the most 
Dure, elevated, and lasting gratification he ever enjoyed. 
Such an exercise, besides, would invigorate the whole 
moral and intellectual powers, and fit them to discover 
and obey the divine institutions. 

Phrenology is highly conducive to this enjoyment of 
our moral and intellectual nature. No faculty is bad, 
but, on the contrary each, when properly gratified, is a 
fountain of pleasure ; in short, man possesses no feeling, 
of the legitimate exercise of which an elightened and 
ingenuous mind need be ashamed. A party of thorough 
practical phrenologists, therefore, meets in the perfect 
knowledge of each other's qualities ; they respect these 
as the gifts of the Creator, and their great object is to 
derive the utmost pleasure from their legitimate use, 
and to avoid every approximation to abuse of them. 
The distinctions of country and temperament are bro- 
ken down by unity of principle ; the chilling restraints 
of Cautiousness, Self-esteem, Secretiveness, and Love 
of Approbation, which stand as barriers of eternal ice 
between human beings in the ordinary intercourse of 
society, are gently removed ; the directing sway is 
committed to Benevolence, Veneration, Conscientious- 
ness, and Intellect ; and then the higher principles of 
the mind operate with a delightful vivacity unknown 
to persons unacquainted with the qualities of human 
nature. 

Intellect also ought to be regularly exercised in arts, 
science, philosophy, and observation. 

I have said nothing of dedicating hours to the direct 
gratification of the animal powers ; not that they should 
not be exercised, but that full scope for their activity 
will be included in the employments already mentioned. 
In muscular exercises, Combativeness, Destructiveness, 
Constructiveness, Acquisitiveness, Self-esteem, and 
Love of Approbation, may all be gratified. In contend- 
incr with and surmounting physical and moral difficul- 
ties, Combativeness and Destructiveness obtain vent ; 
in working at a mechanical employment, requiring the 
exertion of strength, these two faculties, and also Con- 
structiveness and Acquisitiveness, will be exercised ; 
in emulation who shall accomplish most good, Self-es- 
teem and Love of Approbation will obtain scope. In 
the exercise of the moral faculties, several of these, and 
others of the animal propensities, are employed ; Am- 
ativeness, Philoprogenitiveness, and Adhesiveness, for 
example, acting under the guidance of Benevolence, 
Veneration, Conscientiousness, Ideality and Int-cllect 
receive direct enjoyment in the domestic circle. From 
proper direction also, and from the superior delicacy 
and refinement imparted to them by the higher powers, 
they do not infrmge the moral law, and leave no sting 
or repentance in the mind. 

Finally a certain portion of time would require to be 
dedicated to taking of food and sleep. 

All systems hitherto practised have been deficient in 
providing for one or more of these branches of enjoy- 
ment, in the community at Orbiston, formed on Mr. 
Owen's principles, music, dancing, and theatrical en- 



tertainments were provided ; but the people soon tired 
of these. They had not corresponding moral and in 
tellectual instruction. The novelty e.xcit^d them, but 
there was nothing substantial behind. In common 
society, very little either of rational instruction' or 
amusement is provided. The neglect of innocent amuse- 
ment is a great error. 

If there b^ truth in these views, they will afford an- 
swers to two important questions, that have puzzled 
philosophers in regard to the progress of human improve- 
ment. The first is. Why should man have existed so 
long, and made so small an advance in the road to hap- 
piness 1* If I am right in the fundamental proposition, 
that activity in the faculties is synonymous with enjoy- 
ment of existence, — it follows that it would have been 
less wise and benevolent towards man, constituted as 
he is, to have communicated to him intuitively perfect 
knowledge, thereby leaving his mental powers with 
diminished motives to activity, than to bestow on him 
faculties endowed with high susceptibility of action, and 
to surround him with scenes, objects, circumstances, 
and relations, calculated to maintain them in ceaseless 
excitement ; although this latter arrangement neces- 
sarily subjects him to suffering while ignorant, and ren- 
ders his first ascent in the scale of improvement difficult 
and slow. It is interesting to obser\'e, that, according 
to this view, although the first pair of the human race 
had been created with powerful and well balanced facul- 
ties, but of the same nature as at present ; if they were 
not also intuitively inspired with knowledge of the whole 
creation, and its relations, their first movements as in- 
dividuals would have been retrograde : that is, as indi- 
viduals, they would, through pure want of information, 
have infringed many natural laws, and suffered evil ; 
while, as parts of the race, they would have been de- 
cidedly advancing : for every pang they suffered would 
have led them to a new step in knowledge, and prompt- 
ed them to advance towards a much higher condi'ion 
than that which they at first occupied. According to the 
hypothesis now presented, not only is man really benfit- 
ed by the arrangement which leaves him to discover the 
natural laws for himself, although, during the period of 
his ignorance, he suffers much evil from unacquaintance 
with them ; but his progress towards knowledge and 
happiness must from the very extent of his experience, 
be actually greater than can at present be conceived. 
Its extent will become more obvious, and his experience 
itself more valuable, after he has obtained a view of the 
real theory of his constitution. He will find that past 
miseries have at least exhausted countless enxirs, and 
he will know how to avoid thousands of paths that lead 
to pain ; in short, he will then discover that errors in 
conduct resemble errors in philosophy, in this, that they 
give additional importance and practicability to truth, 
by the demonstration which they afford of the evils at- 
tending departures from its dictates. The grand sour- 
ces of human suffering at present arise from bodily dis- 
ease and mental distress, and, in the next chapter these 
will be traced to infringement, through ignorance or 
otherwise, of physical, organic, moral, or intellectual 
laws, which, when expounded, appear in themselves 
calculated to promote the happiness of the race. It 
may be supposed that, according to this view, as know- 
ledge accumulates, enjoyment will decrease ; but am- 
ple provision is made against this event, by withholding 
intuition from each generation as it appears on the stage ; 
each successive age must acquire knowledge for itself ; ^ 
and, provided ideas are new, and suited to the faculties, 
the pleasure of acquiring them from instriictors, is only 
second to that of discovering them for ourselves ; and, 
probably countless ages may elapse before all the facts 
and relations of nature shall have been explored, and 
the possibility of discovery e.xhausted. If the universe 
be infinite, knowledge can never be complete. 

* In offerin? a solution of this problem, I do not inq'Uire why 
man has received his present constitution. 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



21 



The sbcond question is, .Has man really advanced in 
happiness, in proportion to his increase in knowledge 1 
We are apt to entertain erroneous notions of the plea- 
sures enjoyed by past ages. Fabulists have represent- 
ed them as peaceful, innocent and gay ; but if we look 
narrowly at the condition of the savage and barbarian 
of the present day, and recollect that these are the states 
of all individuals previous to the acquisition of know- 
ledge, we shall not much or long regret the pretended 
diminution of enjoyment by civilization. Phrenology 
renders the superiority of the latter condition certain, 
by showing it to be a law of nature, that, until the in- 
tellect is extensively informed, and the moral senti- 
ments assiduously exercised, the animal propensities 
bear the predominant sway ; and that wherever they 
are supreme, misery is an mevitable concomitant. In- 
deed, the answer to the objection that happiness has 
not increased with knowledge, appears to nie to be 
found in the fact, that until phrenology was discovered, 
the nature of man was not scientifically known ; and in 
consequence, that not one of his institutions, civil or 
domestic, was correctly founded on the principle of the 
supremacy of the moral sentiments, or in accordance 
with the other laws of his constitution. Owing to the 
same cause, also, much of his knowledge has necessa- 
rily remained partial, and inapplicable to use ; but after 
this science shall have been appreciated and applied, 
clouds of darkness, accumulated through long ages that 
are past, miay be expected to roll away, as if touched 
by the rays of the meridian sun, and with them many 
of the miseries that attend total ignorance or imperfect 
information.* 



CHAPTER ni. 

TO WHAT EXTENT ARE THE MISERIES OF MANKIND 
REFERABLE TO INFRINGEMENTS OF THE LAWS OF 
NATURE ] 

In the present chapter, Ipropce to inquire into some 
of the evils that have afflicted the human race ; also 
whether they have proceeded from abuses of institutions 
benevolent and wise in themselves, and calculated, 
when observed, to promote the happiness of man, or 
from a defective or vicious constitution of nature, which 
he can neither remedy nor improve. 

SECT. I. CALAMITIES ARISING FROM INFRINGEMENTS 

OF THE PHYSICAL LAWS. 

The proper way of viewing the Creator's institutions, 
is to look, first, to their uses, and to the advantages 
that flow from observance of them ; and, secondly, to 
their abuses, and the evils consequent thereon. 

In Chapter II, some of the benefits conferred on man, 
by the law of gravitation, are enumerated ; and I may 
here advert to the evils originating from that law, when 
human conduct is in opposition to it. For example, 
men are liable to fall from horses, carriages, stairs, pre- 
cipices, roofs, chimneys, ladders, masts, or slip in the 
street, &c. by which accidents life is frequently alto- 
gether extinguished, or rendered miserable from lame- 
ness and pain ; and the question arises. Is human na- 
ture provided with any means of protection against 
these evils, at all equal to their frequency and extent ] 

The Jower animals are equally subject to this law ; 
and the Creator has bestowed on them external senses, 
nerves, muscles, bones, an instinctive sense of equili- 
brium, the sense of danger, or cautiousness, and other 
faculties, to place them in accordance with it. These 
appear to afford sufficient protection to animals placed 
in all ordinary circumstances ; for we very rarely dis- 

* Readers who are strangers to phrenology, and the evidence 
On which it rests, may resani the observations in the text as ex- 
travagant and enthusiastic; but I respectfully rettiind them, that, 
while they juilge in comparative ignorance it has been my endea- 
vour to subject it to the severest scrutiny. Having found its 
proofs irrefragable ; and being convinced of its importance, I so. 
licit their indulgence in speaking of it as it appears to my own 
mind. 



cover any of them, in their natural condition, killed or 
mutilated by accidents referable to gravitation. Where 
their mode of life exposes them to extraordinary danger 
from this law, they are provided with additional securi- 
ties. The monkey, which climbs trees, enjoys great 
muscular energy in its legs, claws, and tail, far surpassing, 
in proportion to its gravitating tendency, or its bulk 
and weight, what is bestowed on the legs and arms of 
man ; so that, by means of them, it springs from branch 
to branch, in nearly complete security against the law 
in question. The goat, which browses on the brhiks 
of precipices, has received a hoof and legs, that give 
precision and stability to its steps. Birds, which are 
destined to sleep on branches of trees, are provided 
with a muscle passing over the joints of each leg, and 
stretching down toJ;he foot, which, being pressed by 
their weight, produces a proportionate contraction of 
their claws, so as to make them cling the faster, the 
greater their liability to fall. The fly, -Cvhich walks and 
sleeps on perpendicular walls, and the ceilings of rooms, 
has a hollow in its foot, from which it expels the air, 
and the pressure of the atmosphere on the outside of 
the foot holds it fast to the object on which the inside 
is placed. The sea-horse, which is destined to climb 
up the sides of ice-hills, is provided with a similar appa- 
ratus. The camel, whose native region is the sandy 
deserts of the torrid zone, has broad-spreading hoofs 
to support it on the loose soil. Fishes are furnished 
with air bladders, by dilating and contracting of which 
they can accommodate themselves with perfect preci- 
sion to the law of gravitation. 

In these instances, the lower animals, under the sole 
guidance of their instincts, appear to be placed admira- 
bly in harmony with gravitation, and guaranteed against 
its infringement. Is man, then, less an object of love 
with the Creator 1 Is he alone left exposed to the evils 
that spring inevitably from its neglect l His means of 
protection are different, but when understood and ap- 
plied, they will probably be found not -less complete. 
Man, as well as the lower animals, has received bones, 
muscles, nerves, an instinct of equilibrium,* and or- 
gans of Cautiousness ; but not in equal perfection, in 
proportion to his figure, size, and weight, with those 
bestowed on them : — The difference, however, is fax 
more than compensated by other organs, particularly 
those of Constructiveness and Reflection, in which he 
greatly surpasses them. Keeping in view that the ex- 
ternal world, in regard to man, is arranged on the prin- 
ciple of supremacy in moral sentiments and intellect, 
we shall probably find, that the calamities suffered "by 
him from the law of gravitation, are referable to pre- 
dominance of the animal propensities, or to neglect of 
proper exercise of his intellectual powers. For exam- 
ple, when coaches break down, ships sink, men fall 
from ladders, &c, how generally may the cause be 
traced to decay in the vehicle, the vessel, or ladder, 
which a predominating Acquisitiveness alone prevented 
from being repaired ; or when men fall from houses, 
scaffolds, or slip on the streets, &c, how frequently 
should we find their muscular, nervous, and mental en- 
ergies, impaired by preceding debaucheries ; in other 
words, by predominance of the animal faculties, which, 
for the time, diminished their natural means of accom- 
modating themselves to the law from which they suffer. 
Or, again, the slater, in using a ladder, assists himself 
by Constructiveness and Reflection ; but, in walking 
along the ridge of a house, or standing on a chimney, 
he takes no aid from these faculties ; he trusts to the 
mere instinctive power of equilibrium, in which he is 
inferior to the lower animals, and, in so doing, clearly 
violates the law of his nature, that requires him to use 
reflection, where instinct is deficient. Causality and 
Constructiveness could invent means by which, if ho 
slipped from a roof or chimney, his fall might be ar- 
rested. A small chain, for instance, attached by ono 
* Vide Essay on Weight, Fhren. Journ. vol. ii. p. 412. 



22 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



•and to a girdle round his body, and the other end fas- 
tened by a hook and eye to the roof, might leave him at 
liberty to move about, and break his fall, in case he 
slipped. How frequently, too, do these accidents hap- 
pen, after disturbance of the faculties and corporeal 
functions by intoxication ! 

The objection will probably occur, that in the gross 
rendition in which the mental powers exist, the great 
body of mankind are incapable of exerting habitually 
that degree of moral and intellectual energy, which is 
indispensable to obsei-vance of the natural laws ; and 
that, thcT'^fore, they are, in point of fact., less fortunate 
than the lower animals. I admit, that, at present, this 
representation is to a considerable extent just : but no- 
where do I perceive the human powers exercised and 
instructed, in a degree at all approaching to their limits. 
Let any person recollect of how much greater capacity 
for enjoyment and security from danger he has been 
conscious, at a particular time, when his whole mind 
was filled with, and excited by, some mighty interest, 
not only allied to. but founded in, morality and intellect, 
than in that languid condition which accompanies the 
absence of elevated and ennobling motives, and he may 
form some idea of what man is capable of reaching 
when his powers shall have been cultivated to the ex- 
tent of their capacity. At the present moment, no 
class of society is systematically instructed in the con- 
stitution of their own minds and bodies, in the relations 
of these to external objects, in the nature of these ob- 
jects, in the natural supremacy of the moral sentiments, 
in the principle that activity in the faculties is the only 
source of pleasure, and that the higher the powers, the 
more intense the delight ; and, if such views be to the 
mind, what light is to the eyes, air to the lungs, and 
food to the stomach, there is no wonder that a mass of 
inert mentality, if I may use such a word, should every- 
where exist around us, and that countless evils should 
spring from its continuance in this condition. If active 
moral and intellectual faculties are the natural fountains 
of enjoyment, and the external world is created with 
leference to this state ; it is as obvious that misery 
must result from animal supremacy and intellectual tor- 
pidity, as that flame, which is constituted to b\irn only 
when supplied with oxygen, must inevitably become ex- 
tinct, when exposed to carbonic acid gas. Finally, if 
the arrangement by which man is left to discover and 
obey the laws of his own nature, and of the physical 
world, be more conducive to activity, than intuitive 
knowledge, the calamities now contemplated appear to 
be instituted to force him to his duty ; and his duty, 
when understood, will constitute his delight. 

While, therefore, we lament the fate of individual 
victims to the law of gravitation, we cannot condemn 
that law itself. If it w^ere suspended, to save men from 
the effects of negligence, not only would the proud cre- 
ations of human skill totter to their base, and the hu- 
man body rise from the earth, and hang midway in the 
air, but our highest enjoyments would be terminated, 
and our faculties become positively useless, by being 
deprived of their field of exertion. Causality, for in- 
stance, teaches that similar causes will always, catcris 
paiibus, produce similar effects; and, if the physical 
laws were suspended or varied, to accommodate man's 
negligence or folly, it is obvious that this faculty would 
be without an object, and that no definite course of ac- 
tion could be entered upon with confidence in the re- 
sult. If, then, this view of the constitution of nature 
were kept steadily in view, the occurrence of one acci- 
dent of this kmd would suggest to Reflection means to 
prevent others. 

Similar illustrations and commentaries might be given, 
in regard to the other physical laws to which man is 
subject ; but the object of the present Essay being 
inercly to evolve principles, I confine myself to gravita- 
tion, as the most obvious and best understood. 

I do not mean to say, that, by the mere exercise of 



intellect, man may absolutely guarantee himself agains* 
all accidents ; but only that the more ignorant and care- 
less he is, the more he will suffer, and the more intel- 
ligent and vigilant, the less ; and that I can perceive 
no limits to this rule. The law of most civilized coun- 
tries recognizes this principle, and subjects owners of 
sh'ps, coaches, and other vehicles, in damages arising 
from gross infringements of the physical laws. It is 
unquestionable that the enforcement of this liability has 
increased security in travelling in no trifling degi-ee. 

SECT. II. ON THE EVILS THAT BEFALL M.iNEIND, FKOM 

INFRINGEMENT OF THE ORGANIC LAWS. 

An organised being, I have said, is one which de- 
rives its existence from a previously existino- organised 
being, which subsists on food, grows, attains maturity, 
decays and dies. Whatever the ultimate object of the 
Creator in constituting organised beintrs, may be, it 
will scarcely be denied, that part of his design is, that 
they should enjoy their existence here ; and, if so, cveiy 
particular part of their systems will be found condu- 
cive in its intention to this end. The first law, then, 
that must be obeyed, to render an organised being per- 
fect in its kind, is, that the germ from which it springs 
shall be complete in all its parts, and sound in its whole 
constitution ; the second is, that the moment it is 
ushered into life, and as long as it continues to live, it 
shall be supplied with food, light air, and every physical 
aliment necessary for its support : and the third law is, 
that it shall duly exercise its functions. When all 
these laws are obeyed, the being should enjoy pleasure 
from its organised frame, if its Creator is benevolent ; 
and its coustitutiotn should be so adapted to its circum- 
stances, as to'admit of obedience to them, if its Crea- 
tor is v^fise and povirerful. Is there, then, no such phe- 
nomenon on earth, as a human being existing in full 
possession of organic vigour, from birth till advanced 
age when the oro-anised system is fairly worn out"? 
Numberless examples of this kind have occurred, and 
they show no demonstration, that the corporeal frame 
of man is so constituted, as to admit the possibility of 
his enjoying organic health and vigour, during the whole 
period of a long life. In the hfe of Captain Cook it is 
mentioned, that ' one circumstance peculiarly worthy of 
notice is, the perfect and uninterrupted health of the 
inhabitants of New Zealand. In all the visits made to 
their towns, where old and young, men and women, 
crowded about our voyagers, they never observed a 
single person who appeared to have any bodily com- 
plaint ; nor among the numbers that were seen naked, 
was once perceived the slightest eruption upon the skin, 
or least mark which indicated that such an eruption 
had formerly existed. Another proof of the health of 
these people is the facility with which the wouiid-s they 
at any time receive are healed. In the man v^fho had 
been shot with the musket ball through the fleshy part 
of his arm, the wound seemed to be so well digested, 
and in so fair a way of being perfectly healed, that if 
Mr Cook had not known that no application had been 
,, made to it, he declared that he should certainly have 
inquired, with a very interested curiosity, after the vul- 
nerary herbs and surgical art of the country. An ad- 
ditional evidence of human nature's being untainted 
with disease in New Zealand, is the great number of 
old men vvith v\'hom it abounds. Many of them, by the 
loss of their hair and teeth, appeared to be very ancient, 
and yet none of them were decrepit. Although they 
were not equal to the young in muscular strength, they 
did not come in the least behind them with regard to 
cheerfulness and vivacity. Water, as far as oui; navi- 
gators could discover, is the universal and only liquor 
of the New Zealanders. It is greatly to be wished that 
their happiness in this respect may never be destroyed 
by such a connexion with the European nations, as 
shall introduce that fondness for spii'ituous liquors which 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



23 



hath buen so fatal to the Indians of North America.' — 
Kippis' L'fc of Captain Cook. Dublin, 1788, p. 100. 

Now, as a natural law never admits of an exception ; 
for example, as no man ever sees wkiiout eyes, or di- 
gests without 'a stonach, we are e titled to say, that the 
best condition in which an organized being has ever 
been found, is fairly within the capabilLics of the race. 
A human being, vigorous and healthy from the cradle 
to the grave, cor.ld no more exist, unless the natural 
constitution of his organs permitted it, of design, than 
visior could exist without eyes. Health and vigour 
cannot result from infringement of the- organic laws ; 
for then pain and disease would be the objects of these 
laws, and beneficence, wisdom, and power, could never 
be ascribed to the Creator, who had established them. 
Let us hold, then, that the or<>:anised system of man, in 
itself — admits of the possibility of health, vigour, and 
organic enjoyment, during the full period of life ; and 
proceed to inquire into the causes why these advan- 
tages are not universal. 

One organic law, is, that the germ of the infant being 
must be complete in all its parts, and perfectly sound 
in its condition, as an indispensable requisite to its vig- 
orous development, and full enjoyment of existence. 
If the corn that is sown is weak, wasted, and damaged, 
the jnants that spring from it will be feeble, and liable 
to speedy decay. The same law holds in the animal 
kingdom ; and I would ask, has it hitherto been observ- 
ed by man \ It is notorious that it has not. Indeed, 
its existence has been either altogether unknov/n, or 
in a very high degree disregarded by human beings. 
The feeble, the sickly, the exhausted with age, and the 
incomj)letely developed, through extreme youth, marry, 
and, without the least compunction regarding the or- 
ganization which they shall transmit to their offspring, 
send into the world miserable bemgs, the very rudi- 
ments of v,fhose existence are tainted with disease. If 
we trace such conduct to its source, we shall find it to 
originate either in animal propensity, intellectual igno- 
rance, or more frequently in both. The inspiring mo- 
tives are generally merely sensual appetite, avarice, or 
ambition, operating in the absence of all just concep- 
tions of the impending evils. The punishment of this 
offence is debility and pain, transmitted to the children, 
■ and reflected back in anxiety and sorrow on the pa- 
rents. Still the great point to be kept in view, is, that 
these miseries are not legitimate consequences of ob- 
servance of the organic laws, but the direct chastise- 
ment of their infringement. These laws are unbend- 
ing, and admit of no exception ; they must be fi.lfiUed, 
or the penalties of disobedience will follow. On this 
subject profound ignorance reigns in society. From 
such observations as I have been able to make, I am 
convinced that the union of certain temperaments and 
combinations of mental organs in the parents, are 
highly conducive to health, talent, and morality in the 
offsjiring, and rnce versa, and that these conditions may 
be discovered and taught with far greater certainty, 
facility, and advantage, than is generally imagined. It 
will be time enough to conclude that men are naturally 
incapable of obedience to the organic laws, after their 
intellects have been instructed, their moral sentiments 
trained to the observance of the Creator's natural insti- 
tutions, as at once their duty, their interest, and a 
grand source of their happiness ; and they have conti- 
nued to rebel. 

A second organic law regards nutriment, which must 
be supplied of a suitable kind, and in due quantity. 
This law requires also free air, light, cleanliness, and 
attention to every physical arrangement by which the 
functions of the body may be favored or impaired. 
Have mankind, then, obeyed or neglected this insti- 
tution 1 I need scarcely answer the question. To be 
able to obey institutions, we must first know them. 
Before we can know the organic constitution of our 
body, we must study that constitution, and the study 



of the human constitution is anatomy and [ihysiology. 
Before we can be acquainted with its relations to ex- 
ternal objects, we must learn the existence and quali- 
ties of these objects, (unfolded by chemistry, natural 
history, and natural philosophy), and compare them 
with the constitution of the body. When we have 
fulfilled these conditions, we shall be better able 
to discover the laws which the Creator has insti- 
tuted in regard to our organic system. It will be saul, 
however, that such studies are imjjracticable to the 
great bulk of mankind, and, besides, do not appear 
much to benefit those who pursue them. They are 
hnpracticable only while mankind prefer founding their 
public and private institutions on the basis of the pro- 
pensities, instead of that of the sentiments. I have 
mentioned, that exercise of the nervous and muscular 
systems is recjuired oi all the race by the Creator's fiat, 
that if all, who are capable, .would obey this law, a mo- 
derate extent of exertion, agreeable and salub'-ious in 
itself, would sufluce to supply our wants, and to sur- 
round us with every feeneficial luxury ; and that a 
large portion of unemployed time would remain. The 
Creator has bestowed on us Knowing Faculties, fitted 
to explore the facts of these sciences. Reflecting Fa- 
culties to trace their relations, and Moral Sentiments 
calculated to feel interest in such investigatons, and 
to lead us to reverence and obey the laws which they 
unfold ; and, finally he has made this occupation, when 
entered upon with a view of tracing His power and 
wisdom in the subjects of our studies, and of obeying 
His institutions, the most delightful and hivigoratmg 
of all vocations. In place, then, of such a course of 
education being impracticable, every arrangement of 
the Creator appears to be prepared in -direct anticipa- 
tion of its actual accomplishment. 

The second objection, that those who study these 
sciences are not more healthy and happy, as organized 
beings, than those who neglect them, admits also of an* 
easy answer. Parts of these sciences are taught to a 
few individuals, whose, main design in studying them 
is to apply them as means of acquiring wealth and 
fame ; but they have nowhere been taught as connected 
parts of a great system of natural arrangements, fraught 
with the highest influences on human enjoyment ; and 
in no instance have the intellect and sentiments been 
systematically directed to the natural laws, as the grand 
fountains of happiness and misery to the race, and train- 
ed to observe and obey them as the Creator's institu- 
tions. 

A third organic law, is, that all our functions shall 
be duly exercised ; and is this law observed by man- 
kind 1 Many persons are able, from experience, to at- 
test the severity of the punishment that follows from 
neglecting to exercise the nervous ani muscular sys- 
tems, in the lassitude, indigestion, irritability, debility, 
and general uneasiness that attend a sedentary and in- 
active life. But the penalties that attach to neglect of 
exercising the brain are much less known, and there- 
fore I shall notice them more at length. How often 
have we heard the question asked. What is the use of 
education 1 The answer might be illustrated by ex- 
plaining to the inquirer the nature and objects of the 
various organs of the body, such as the hrabs, lungs, 
eyes, and then asking him if he could perceive any ad- 
vantage to a being so constituted, in obtaining access 
to earth, air, and light. He would, at once, declare, 
that they were obviously of the very highest utility to 
him, for they were the only conceivable objects, by 
means of which these pfgans could obtain scope for ac- 
tion, which action we suppose him to know to be plea- 
sure. To those, then, who know the constitution of 
the intellectual and moral powers of man, I need only 
say, that the ob|ects introduced to the mind by educa- 
tion, bear the same relation to them that the physical 
elemen' s of nature bear to the nerves and muscles ; 
they afford them scope for action, and yield them de- 



24 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



'ight. The meaning which is commonly attached to the 
ord ?/..<re in such cases, is how m\ich money, influence, 
or consideration, will education bring ; these being the 
only objects of strong desire with which uncultivated 
minds are acquainted ; and they do not perceive in 
what way education can greatly gratify such propensi- 
lies. But the moment the mind is opened to the per- 
ception of its constitution and to the natural laws, the 
great advantage of moral and intellectual cultivation, 
as a means of^exercising the faculties, and of directing 
the conduct in obedience to these laws, becomes appa- 
rent. 

But there is an additional benefit arismg from heal- 
thy activity of brain, which is little known. The brain 
is the fountain of nervous energy to the whole body, 
and different modifications of that energy appear to 
take place, accordmg to the mode in which the facul- 
ties and organs are affected. For example, when mis- 
fortune and disgrace impend over us, the organs of 
Cautiousness, Self-esteem, Love of Approbation, &c. 
are painfully excited ; and then they transmit an im- 
paired or a positively noxious ner\'0us influence to the 
heart, stomach, intestines, and thence to the rest of the 
body ; the pulse becomes feeble and irregular, digestion 
is deranged, and the whole corporeal frame wastes. 
When, on the other hand, the cerebral organs are agree- 
ably affected, a benign and vivifying nervous influence 
pervades the framed and all the functions of the body 
are performed with more pleasure and completeness. 
Now, it is a law, that the quantum of nervous energy 
increases with the number of cerebral organs roused to 
activity. In the retreat of the French from Moscow, 
for example, when no enemy was near, the soldiers be- 
came depressed in courage, and enfeebled in body, they 
nearly sunk to the earth through exhaustion and cold ; 
but no sooner did the fire of the Russian guns sound 
■ in their ea.rs, or the gleam of their bayonets flash in their 
eyes, than new life seemed to pei-vade them. They 
wielded powerfully the arms, which a few moments be- 
fore, they could scarcely carry or trail on the ground. 
No sooner, however, was the enemy repulsed',' than their 
feebleness returned. The theory of this is, that the 
approach of the combat called into activity a variety of 
additional faculties ; these sent new energy tiirough 
every nerve, and while their vivacity was maintained 
by the external stimulus, they rendered the soldiers 
strong beyond their merely physical condition. Many 
persons have probably experienced the operation of the 
same principle. When sitting feeble and listless by 
the fire, we have heard of an accident having occurred 
to some beloved friend, who required our instantaneous 
aid, or an unexpected visiter has arrived, in whom our 
affection's were bound up, in an instant our lassitude 
was gone, and wc moved with an alertness and anima- 
tion that seemed surprising to ourselves. The cause 
was the same ; these events roused Adhesiveness, Be- 
nevolence, Love of Approbation, Intellect, and a variety 
of faculties, which were previously dormant, and their 
influence invigorated the limbs. Dr Sparmann, in his 
Voyape to the Cape, mentions, that ' there was now 
ao'ain a great scarcity of meat in the wagon ; for which 
reason my Hottentots began to grumble, and reminded 
me that we ought not to waste so much of our time in 
looking after insects and plants, but give a better look 
out after the game. At the same time, they pointed to 
a neighbouring dale overrun with wood, at the, upper 
edge of which, at the distance of about a mile and a 
quarter from the spot where we then were, they had seen 
several buff'aloes. Accordingly, we went thither ; but 
though our fatigue was lessened by our Hottentots car- 
rying our guns for us up a hill, yet we were quite out 
of breath, and overcome by the sun, before we got up 
to it. Yet, what even now appears to me a matter of 
wonder is, that as soon as loe got a glimpse of the game, 
all this languor left us in an instant. In fact, we each 
of us strove to fire before the other, so that we seemed 



entirely to have lost sight of all prudence and caution.' 
' In the mean time, our temerity, which chiefly pn>- 
ceeded from hurry and ignorance, was considered by 
the Hottentots as a proof of spirit and intrepidity hard- 
ly to be equalled. 

It is part of the same law that the more agreeable 
the mental stimulus, the more benign is the nervous 
influence transmitted to the body. 

If we imagine a man or woman, who has received 
from nature a large and tolerably active brain, but who 
has not enjoyed the advantages of a scientific or exten- 
sive education, so as to fpel an interest in moral and 
intellectual pursuits for their own sake, and who, from 
possessing wealth sufficient to remove the necessity for 
labor, is engaged in no profession, we shall find a per- 
fect victim to infringement of the natural laws. The 
individual ignorant of these laws, will, in all probability, 
neglect nervous and muscular exercises, and suffer the 
miseries arising from impeded circulation and impaired 
digestion ; in entire want of every object on which the 
eneigy of his brain might be expended, its stimnlating 
influence on the body will be withheld, and the effects of 
muscular inactivity tenfold aggravated; all the functions 
will, in consequence, become enfeebled ; lassitude, un- 
easiness, anxiety, and a thousand evils, will arise, and 
life, in short, will become a mere endurance of punish- 
ment for infnngement of institutions, calculated, in them- 
selves to promote happiness and afford delight, when 
known and obeyed. This fate frequently overtakes 
uneducated females, whose early days have been occu- 
pied with business, or the cares of a family, but which 
occupations have ceased before/old age had diminished 
corporeal vigour ; it overtakes men also, who, unedu- 
cated, retire from active business in the prime of life. 
In some instances, these evile accumulate to such a de- 
gree that the brain itself gives way, its functions be- 
come deranged, and insanity is the result. 

It is worthy of remark, that the more elevated the 
objects of our study, the higher in the scale are the 
mental organs which are exercised, and the higher the 
organs the more pure and intense is the pleasure ; and 
hence, a vivacious and regularly supported excitement 
of'the moral sentiments and intellect, is, by the organic 
law, highly favourable to health and corporeal vigour. 
In the fact of a living animal being able to retain life 
in an oven that will bake dead flefeh, we see an illustra- 
tion of the organic law rising above the purely physical : 
and, in the circumstance of the moral and intellectual 
organs transmitting the most favorable nervous influence 
to the whole bodily system, we have an example of the 
moral and intellectual law rising higher than the mere 
organic. 

No person after having his intellect and sentiments 
imbued with a perception of, and belief in, the natural 
laws, as now explained, can possibly desire idleness, as 
a source of pleasure ; nor can he possibly regard mus- 
cular exertion and mental activity, when not carried to 
excess, as any thing else than enjoyments kindly vouch- 
safed to him by the benevolence of the Creator. The 
notion that moderate labour and mental exertion aro 
evils, can originate only from ignorance, or from view- 
ing the effects of over-e.xhaustion as the result of the 
natural law, and not as the punishment for infringement 
of it. 

If, then, we sedulously inquire, in each particular in- 
stance, into the cause of the sickness, pain, premature 
death, and general derangement of the corporeal frame 
of man, which we see around us, and endeavour to dis- 
cover whether it has originated in obedience to the 
phvsical and organic laws, or sprung from an infringe- 
ment of them, we shall be able to form some estimate 
how far bodily suffering is justly attributable to imper- 
fections of nature, and how far to our own ignorance 
and neglect of divine institutions. 

The foregoing principles being of much practical im- 
portance, may, with propriety^ be elucidated by a few 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



23 



cases of actual occurrence. Two or three centuries 
ago, various cities in Europe were depopulated by the 
plague, and, in particular, London was visited by an 
awful mortality from this cause, in the reign of Charles 
the Second. The people of that age attributed this 
scourge to the inscrutable decrees of Providence, and 
some to the magnitude of the nation's moral iniquities. 
According to the views now presented, it must have 
arisen from infringement of the organic laws, and been 
intended to enforce stricter obedience to them in future. 
According to this view, there was nothing inscrutable 
in its causes or objects, which, when clearly analysed, 
appear to have had no direct reference to the moral 
condition of the people : I say direct reference to the 
moral condition of the people, because it would be easy 
to show, that the physical, organic, and all the other 
natural laws, are connected indirectly, and constituted 
in harmony, with the moral law : and that infringement 
of the one often leads to disobedience to another, and 
brings a double punishment on the offender. But, in 
the mean time, I observe that the facts recorded in his- 
tory exactly correspond with the theory now propound- 
ed. The streets of London were excessively narrow, 
the habits of the people dirty, and no adequate provision 
was made for removing the filth unavoidably produced 
by a dense population. The great fire in that city, 
which happened soon after the pestilence, afforded an 
opportunity of remedying in some degree, the narrow- 
ness of the streets ; and habits of increasing cleanli- 
ness abated the filth ; these changes brought the people 
into a closer obedience to the organic laws, and no 
plague has since returned. Again, till very lately, 
thousands of children died yearly of the small-pox, 
but, in our. day, vaccine inoculation saves ninety-nine 
out of a hundred, who, under the old system, would 
have died. The theory of its operation is not known, 
but we may rest assured, that it places the system more 
in accordance with the organic laws, than in the cases 
where death ensued. A gentleman, who died about 
ten years ago at an advanced period of life, told me, 
that, six miles west from Edinburgh, the country was 
60 unhealthy in his youth, that every spring the farm- 
ers and their servants were seized with fever and ague, 
and required regularly to undergo bleeding, and a coarse 
of medicine, to prevent attacks, or restore them from 
their effects. At the time, 'hese visitations were be- 
lieved to be sent by Providence, and to be inherent in 
the constitution of things ; after, however, said my in- 
formant, an improved system of agriculture and drain- 
ing was established, and vast pools of stagnant water 
formerly left between the ridges of the field were re- 
moved, dunghills carried to a distance from the houses, 
and the houses themselves made more spacious and 
commodious, every symptom of ague and marsh-fever 
disappeared from the district, and it became highly sa- 
lubrious. In other words, as soon as the gross in- 
fringement of the organic laws was abated by a more 
active exertion of the muscular and intellectual powers 
of man, the punishment ceased. In like manner, how 
many calamities occurred in coal-pits, in consequence 
of infringement of a physical law, viz. by introducing 
lighted candles and lamps into places filled with hydro- 
gen gas, that had emanated from seams of coal, and 
which exploded, scorched, and suffocated the men and 
animals within its reach, until Sir Humphrey Davy dis- 
covered that the Creator had established such a relation 
betwixt flame, wire-gauze, and hydrogen gas, that by 
surrounding the flame with gauze, its power of explod- 
ing hydrogen was counteracted. By the simple appli- 
cation of a covering of wire-gauze, put over and 
around the flame, it is prevented from igniting gas be- 
yond it, and colliers are now able to carry, with safety, 
lighted lamps into places highly impregnated with in- 
flammable air. I have been informed, that the acci- 
dents from explosion, which still occasionally occur in 



coal mines, arise from neglecting to keep the lamps in 
perfect condition. 

It is needless to .multiply examples in support of the 
proposition, that the organized system of man, in itself, 
admits of a healthy existence from infancy to old age, 
provided its germ has been healthy, and its subsequent 
condition has been uniformly in harmony with the phy- 
sical and organic laws ; but it has been objected, that 
although the human faculties may perhaps be adequate 
to discover these laws, and to record them in books, 
yet they are totally incapable of retaining them in the 
memory, and of formally applying them in every act of 
life. If, it is said, we could not move a step without 
calculating and adjusting the body to the law of gravi- 
tation, and could never eat a meal without a formal re- 
hearsal of the organic laws, life would become oppress- 
ed by the pedantry of knowledge, and rendered miser- 
able by petty observances and trivial details. The an- 
swer to this is, that all our faculties are adapted by the 
Creator to the external world, and act instinctively 
when their objects are placed in the proper light before 
them. For example, in walking on a foot-path in the 
country during day, we are not conscious, in adjusting 
our steps to the_ inequalities of the surface, of being 
overburdened by mental calculation.. In fact, we per- 
form this adjustment with so little trouble, that v/e are 
not aware of having made any particular mental or 
muscular effort. But, on returning at night, when we 
cannot see, we stumble, and discover, for the first time, 
how important a duty our faculties had been performing 
during day, without our having adverted to their labours. 
Now, the simple medium of light is sufficient to bring 
clearly before our eyes the inequalities of ground ; but 
to make the mind equally familiar with the nature oi 
the countless objects, and their relations, which abound 
in external nature, an intellectual light is necessary, 
which can be struck out only by exercising and apply- 
ing the knowing and reflecting faculties ; but the mo- 
ment that light is obtained, and the qualities and rela- 
tionships in question are perceived by its means, the 
faculties, so long as the light lasts, will act instinctively 
in adapting our conduct to the nature of the objects, 
just as in accommodating our movements to the unequal 
surface of the ground. It is no more necessary for us 
to go through a course of physical, botanical, and chem- 
ical reasoning, before we are able to abstain from eating 
hemlock, after its properties are known, than it is to go 
through a course of mathematical demonstration, before 
lifting the one foot higher than the other, in ascending 
a stair. At present, physical and pohtical science, mo- 
rals and religion, are not taught as parts of one connect- 
ed system ; nor are the relations between them and 
the constitution of man pointed out to the world. In 
consequence, theoretical knowledge and practice are 
often widely separated. Some of the advantages of the 
scientific education now recommended would be the 
following : 

In the 1st place, the physical and organic laws, when 
truly discovered, appear to the mind as institutions at 
the Creator, wise and salutary in themselves, unbend- 
ing in their operation, and universal in their application. 
They interest our intellectual faculties, and strongly 
impress^' our sentiments. The necessity of obeying 
them, comes upon us with all the authority of a man- 
date of God. While we confine ourselves to a mere 
recommendation to beware of damp, to observe temper- 
ance, or to take exercise, without explaining the princi- 
ple, the injunction carries only the weight due to the 
authority of the individual who gives it, and is addres- 
sed to only two or three faculties, Veneration and 
Cautiousness, for instance, or Self-love in him who re- 
ceives it. But if we are made acquainted with the ele- 
ments of the physical world, and with those of our or- 
ganised system, — with the uses of the different parts of 
the latter, and the cond'tions necessary to their healthy 



26 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN, 



action, — with the causes of their derangement, and the 
pains consequent thereon : and if the obligation to at- 
tend to these conditions be enforced on our moral sen- 
timents and intellect ; then the motives to observe the 
physical and organic laws, as well as llie poicer of doing 
so, will bo prodigiously increased. Before we can dance 
well, we must not only knoiv the motions, but our mus- 
cles must be trained to execute them. In like manner, 
to enable us to act on precepts, we must not only com- 
prehend their meaning but our intellects and sentiments 
must be disciplined into actual performance. Now, the 
very act of acquiring connected scientific information 
concerning the natural world, its qualities, and their re- 
lations, is to the intellect and sentiments what practical 
dancing is to the muscles, it invigorates them ; and, 
as obedience to the natural laws must spring from them, 
exercise renders it more easy and delightful. 

2. It is only by being taught the principle on which 
consequences depend, that we see the, invariableness of 
the results of the physical and organic laws ; acquire 
confidence in, and respect for the laws themselves ; 
and fairly endeavour to accommodate our conduct to 
their operation. Dr Johnson defines 'principle' to be 
' fundamental truth ; oriffinal postulate ; first position 
from which others are deduced ;' and in these senses I 
usip the word. The human faculties are instinctively 
ac#^, and desire gratification ; but Intellect itself must 
have fixed data, on which to reason, otherwise it is it- 
self a mere impulse. The man in whom Constructive- 
ness and Weight are powerful, will naturally betake 
himself- to constructing machinery ; but, if he be igno- 
rant of the principles of mechanical science, he will not 
direct his eflbrts to as important ends, and attain them 
as successfully, as if his intellect were stored with 
these. Principles are deduced from the lavs of nature. 
A man may make 'music by the instinctive impulses of 
Time and Tune ; but there are immutalde laws of har- 
mony ; and, if ignorant of these, he will not perform so 
invariably, correctly, and in good taste, as if he knew 
them. In every art and science, there are principles 
referable solely to the constitution of nature, but these 
admit of countless applications. A musician mav pro- 
duce gay, grave, solemn, or ludicrous tunes, all good of 
their kind, by following the laws of hartnony ; but he 
will never produce one good piece by violating them. 
While the inhabitants west of Edinbiirgh allowed the 
stagnant pools to deface their fields, some seasons 
would be more healthy than others ; and, while the 
cause of the disease was unsuspected, this would con- 
firm them in the notion that health and sickness were 
dispensed by an overruling Providence, on inscrutable 
principles, which they could not comprehend ; b,ut the 
moment the cause was known, it would be found that 
the most healthy seasons were those that were cold 
and dry, and the most sickly those that were warm and 
moist ; and they would then perceive, that the superior 
salubrity of one year, and unwholesomeness of another, 
were clearly referable to one principle, and would be 
both more strongly prompted, and rendered morally 
and intellectually more capable of applying the remedy. 
If some intelligent friend had merely told them to drain 
their fields, and remove their dung-hills, they would 
Got probably have done it ; but whenever their intel- 
lects were enlightened, and their sentiments roused, to 
appreciate the advantages of adopting, and disadvantages 
of neglecting, the improvement, it became easy. 

The truth of these views may be still farther illus- 
trated by examples. A young gentleman of Glasgow, 
whom I knew, went out, as a merchant to North Ame- 
rica. Business required him to sail from New York 
to St Domingo. The weather was hot, and he, being 
very sick, found the confinement below deck, in bed, 
as he said, intolerable ; that is, this confinement was, 
for the moment, more painful than the course which he 
adopted, of laying himself down at full length on the 
deck, ill the open air. Ho was warned by his fellow 



passengers, ahd the officers of the ship, that he would 
inevitably induce fever by this proceeding : but he was 
utterly ignorant of the physical and organic laws ; his 
intellect had been trained to regard only wealth and 
present pleasure as objects of realimportance , t could 
perceive no necessarj' connexion between exposure to 
the mild and grateful sea breeze of a wann climate and 
fever, and he obstinately refused to quit his position. 
The consequence was, that he was rapidly taken ill, and 
lived just one day after arriving at St Domingo. Know- 
ledge of chemistry and physiology would have enabled 
him, in an instant, to understand that the sea air, in 
warm climates, holds a prodigious quantity of water in 
solution, and that damp and heat, operating together on 
the human organs, tend to derange their healthy action, 
and ultimately to destroy them entirely : and if his sen- 
timents had been deeply imbued with a feelino- of the 
indispensable duty of yielding obedience to the institu- 
tions of the Creator, he would have actually enjoyed, 
not only a greater desire, but a greater power of sup-, 
porting the temporary inconvenience of the heated 
cabin, and might, by possibility,' have escaped death. 

Captain Murray, R. N. mentioned to Dr A. Combe, 
that, in his opinion, most of the bad effects of the cli- 
ma'e of the West Indies might be avoided by care and 
attention to clothing ; and so satisfied was he on this 
point, that he had petitioned to be sent there in prefer- 
ence to the North American station, and had no reason 
to regret the change. The measures which he adopted, 
and their effects, are detailed in the following interest- 
ing and instructive letter: 

' Assynt, April 22, 1827 
'My Dear Sir, 

' I should have written to you before this, had T not 
been anxious to refer to some memorandums, which I 
could not do before my return home from Coul. I at- 
tribute the great good health enjoyed by the crew of 
his Majesty's ship Valorous, when on the West India 
station, during the period I had the honour of com- 
manding her, to the following causes. 1st, To the 
keeping the ship perfectly dry and clean ; 2dly, To 
habituating the men to the wearing of flannel 7iexf the 
skin; 3dly, To the precaution I adopted, of giving 
each man a proportion of his allowance of cocoa before 
he left the ship in the mor^iing, either for the purpose 
of watering, or any other duty he might be sent upon ; 
and, 4thly, To the cheerfulness of the crew. 

' The Valorous sailed from Plymouth on the 24th 
December, 1823, having just returned from the coast of 
Labrador and Newfoundland, where she had been 
stationed two years, the crew, including officers, 
amounting to 150 men. I had ordered the purser to 
draw two pairs of flannel drawers, and two shirts extra 
for each man. as soon as I knew that our destination 
was the West Indies ; and, on our sailing, I issyed two 
of each to every man and boy in the ship, making the 
officers of each division responsible for the men of their 
respective divisions wearing these flannels during the 
day and night ; and, at the regular morning nine 
o'clock musters, I inspected the crew personally ; for 
you can hardly conceive the diff.culty I have had in 
forcing some of the men to use flannel at first ; al- 
though I never yet knew one who did not, from choice, 
adhere to it, when once fairly adopted. The only pre- 
caution after this, was to see that, in bad weather, the 
watch, when relieved, did not turn in in their wet 
clothes, which the young hands were apt to do, if not 
looked after ; and their flannels were shifted every 
Sunday. 

' Whenever fresh beef and vegetables could be pro- 
cured at the contract price, they were always issued m 
preference to salt provision. Lim.e juice was issued 
whenever the men had been fourteen days on ship's 
provisions ; and the crew took their meals on the main 
deck, except in very bad weather. 

' The quarter and main decks were scrubbed with 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



27 



sand and water, and wet holy stones, every morning at 
daylight. The lower deck^ cock-pit, and store-rooms 
were scrubbed every day after breakfast, with dry holy 
stones and hot sand, until quite white, the sand l)eing 
carefully swept up, and thrown overboard.. The pump- 
well was also swabbed out dry, and then scrubbed with 
holy stones and hot sand ; and here, as well as in every 
^partof the ship which was liable to damp, Brodiestoves 
'were constantly used, until every appearance of hu- 
midity vanished. The lower deck and cock-pit were 
washed once every week in dry weather ; but Brodie- 
stoves were constantly kept burning in them, until 
they were q\iite dry again. 

' The hammocks were piped up, and in the nettings, 
from 7 .*.. M. until dask, when the men of each watch 
took down their hammocks alternately, by which 
means, only one-half of the hammocks being down at 
a time, the tween decks were not so crowded, and the 
watch relieved was sure of turning into a dry bed on 
going below. The bedding was aired every week, 
once at least. The men were not permitted to go on 
shore in the heat of the sun, or where there was a pro- 
bability of their getting spirituous liquors ; but all 
hands were indulged with a run on shore, when out of 
reach of such temptation. 

' r was employed on the coast of Caraccas, the West 
India Islands, and Gulf of Mexico ; and, in course of 
service, [ visited Trinidad, Margarita, Cocha, Cumana, 
Nueva Barcelona, Laguira, Porto Cabello, and Mara- 
caibo, on the coast of Caraccas ; all the West India 
Islands, from Tobago to Cuba, both inclusive ; as also, 
Caragao and Aruba, and several of those places repeat- 
edly ; also to Vera Cruz and Tampico, in the Gulf of 
Me.icico, which you will admit must have given a trial 
to the constitutions of my men, after two years amongst 
the icebergs of the Labrador, without an intervening 
sur.imer between that icy coast and the coast of Carac- 
cas ; yet I arrived in England on June 24th, without 
having buried a single man or officer belonging to the 
ship, or indeed having a single man on the sick list ; 
from which I am satisfied that a dry ship will always be 
a healthy one in any climate. When in command of 
the Recruit, of 18 guns, in the year 1809, Iwas sent 

to Vera Cruz, where I found the ^ — 46, the ^ 

42, the 18, and gun-brig ; we were 



joined by the 



36, and the 



18.. During 



the period we remained at anchor (from 8 to 10 weeks,) 
the three frigates, lost from 30 to 50 men each, the 

brigs 16 to 18, the most of her crew, with two 

different commanders ; yet the .Recruit, although moored 
in the middle of the squadron, and constant intercourse 
held with the other ships, did not lose a man, and had 
none sick. Now, as some of these ships had been as 
long in the West Indies as the Recruit, we cannot at- 
tribute her singularly healthy state to seasoning, nor 
can I to superior cleanliness, because even the breeches 
of the carronades, and all the pins, were polished bright 

in both — : and , which was not the case 

with the Recruit. Perhaps her healthy state may be 
attributed to cheerfulness in the men ; to my never al- 
lowing them to go on shore in the morning, on an empty 
stomach ; to the use of dry sand and holy-stone for the 
ship ; to never working tliern in the sun ; perhaps to 
accident. Were I asked my opinioH, I would say that 
I firmly believe that cheerfuhiess contributes more to 
\ keep a ship's company healthy, than any precaution that 
can be adopted ; and that, with this attainment, com- 
bined with the precautions I have mentioned, I should 
sail for the West Indies, with as little anxiety as I 
would for any other station. My Valorous fellows were 
as cheerful a set as I ever saw collected together.' 

Suppose that two gentlemen were to ascend one of 
the Scottish mountains, in a hot summer day, and to ar- 
rive at the top, bathed in perspiration, and exhausted 
with fatigue. That one of them knew intimately the 
physical and organic laws, and that, all hot and wearied 



as he was, he should button up his coat closer about his 
body, wrap a handkerchief about his neck, and continue 
walking, at a quick pace, round the summit, in the full 
blaze of the sun. That the other, ignorant of these 
laws, should eagerly run to the base of a projecting cliff; 
stretch himself at full length on the turf, under its re- 
freshing shade ; open his vest to the grateful breeze ; 
and, in short, give himself up entirely to the present 
luxuries of coolness and repose -,; — the former, by ward- 
ing oiT the rapid chill of the cool mountain air, wonld 
descend with health unimpaired ; while the latter would 
carry with him, to a certainty, the seeds of rheumatism, 
consumption, or fever, from permitting perspiration to 
be instantaneously checked, and the surface of the body 
to be cooled with an injurioi:S|rapidity. I have put these 
cases hypothetically, because, although I have seen and 
experienced the benefits of the former method, I have 
not directly observed the opposite. No season, how- 
ever, passes in the Highlands, in which some tragedy 
of the latter description does not occur ; and, from ihfl 
minutest information that I have been able to obtain, 
the causes have been such as are here described. 

I shall conclude these examples by a case which is 
illustrative of the points under consideration, and which 
I have had too good an opportunity of observing in all 
its stages. 

An individual in whom it was my duty as well as 
pleasure, to be greatly interested, had resolved on car- 
rying Mr Owen's views into practical effect, and got an 
establishment set agoing on his principles, at Orbistori, 
in Lanarkshire. The labour and anxiety which he un 
derwent at the commencement of the undertaking, 
gradually impaired an excellent constitution ; and, with 
out perceiving the change, he, by way of setting an ex- 
ample of industry, took to digging with the spade, and 
actually worked for fourteen days at this occupation, 
althopgh previously unaccustomed to labour. This 
produced hasmoptysis. Being unable now for bodily 
exertion, he gave up his whole time to directing and 
instructing the people, about 250 in number, and foi 
two or three weeks spoke the whole day, the effusion 
from his lungs continuing. Nature rapidly sunk undei 
this irrational treatment ; and at last he came to Edin- 
bjrgh for medical advice. When the structure and 
uses of his lungs were explained to L-im, and when it 
■^as pointed out that his treatment of them had btien 
eqially injudicious as if he had thrown lime or dust into 
his eyes, after inflammation, he was struck with the 
extent and consequences of his own ignorance, and 
exclaimed, How greatly he would have been benefitted 
if one month of the five years which he had been forced 
to spend in a vain attempt at acquiring a mastery over 
the Latin tongue, had been dedicated to conveying to 
him information concerning the structure of his body, 
and the causes which preserve and impair its functions. 
He had departed too widely from the organic laws to 
admit of an easy return ; he was seized with inflamma- 
tion of the lungs, and v/ith great difliculty got through 
that attack ; but it impaired his constitution so grievous- 
ly, that lie died, after a lingering illness of eleven months. 
He acknowledged, however, even in his severest pain, 
that he suffered under a just law. The lungs, he saw, 
were of the first-rate importance to life, and their proper 
treatment was provided for by this tremendous punish- 
ment, infl'icted for neglecting the conditions requisite 
to their health. Had'he given them rest, and returned 
to obedience to the organic law, at the first intimation 
of departure from it, the door stood wide open and ready 
to receive him ; but', in utter ignorance, he persevered 
for weeks in direct opposition to these conditions, till 
the fearful result ensued. 

This last case affords a striking illustration of the in- 
dependence of the different institutions of the Creator, 
and of the necessity of obeying all of them, as the only 
condition of safety and enjoyment. The individual 
here alluded to, was deeply engaged in a most benevo- 



/ 



28 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN, 



'eut and disinterested experiment for promoting the 
welfare of his fellow creatures ; and superficial ob- 
servers would say that this was just an example of the 
inscrutable decrees of Providence, which visited him 
with sickness, and ultimately with death, in the very 
niidst of his most virtuous exertions. But the institu- 
tions of the Creator are wiser than the imaginations of 
such men. The first principle on which existence on 
earth, and all its advantages depend, is obedience to 
the physical and organic laws. The benevolent Owen- 
ite neglected these, in his zeal to obey the moral law ; 
and, if it were possible to dispense with the one, by 
obeying the other, the whole theatre of man's existence 
would speedily become deranged, and involved in inex- 
plicable disorder. 

Having traced bodily sufferings, in the case of indi- 
viduals, to neglect of, or opposition to, the organic 
laws, by their progenitors or by themselves, I next ad- 
vert to another set of calamities, that may be called so- 
cial miseries, and which obviously spring from the same 
causes ; but of which latter fact complete evidence was 
not possessed until Phrenology was discovered. And, 
first, in regard to evils of a domestic nature : — One fer- 
tile source of unhappiness arises from persons uniting 
in marriage whose tempers, talents, and dispositions do 
not harmonize. If it Ipe true that natural talents and 
dispositions are connected by the Creator with particu- 
lar configurations of brain, then it is obviously one of 
His institutions that, in forming a compact for life, 
these should be attended to.* If we imagine an indi- 
vidual endowed with the splendid cerebral development 
of Raphael, under a mere animal impulse, uniting 
himself for life with a female, possessing a brain like 
that of Mary MACiNNEs,t which by no possibility, 
could sympathise with his, this proceeding would be as 
direct an obstacle to happiness, as if a man were to sur- 
round himself with ice to remove sensations of cold. 
Until Phrenology was discovered, no natural index to 
mental qualities, that could be practically relied on, 
was possessed, and each individual was left to his own 
sagacity in directing his conduct ; but the natural law 
never bended one iota to accommodate itself to that 
state of ignorance. The Creator having bestowed on 
mankind faculties fitted to discover Phrenology, having 
constituted them so that their greatest enjoyment 
should consist in activity, framed his institutions in 
such a way as to confer happiness when they were dis- 
covered, and observed, and to carrv punishment when 
unknown and infringed, as an arrangement at once be- 
nevolent and wise for the race. If it be the fact, that 
natural talents and dispositions are indicated by cere- 
bral development ; and if an individual, after this truth 
reaches his mind, shall form a connexion fitted to occa- 
sion him sorrow, it is obvious that he must do so from 
one of two causes, either from contempt of the effects 
of development of brain, and a secret belief that he may 
evade its consequences, which is just contempt of an 
organic law, and disbelief in its consequences ; or, se- 
condly, from the predominance of avarice, or some ani- 
mal or other feeling precluding his yielding obedience 
to what he sees to be an institution of the Creator. In 
either case, he must abide the consequences ; and al- 
though these may be grievous, they cannot be com- 
plained of as unjust. In the play of the Gamester, 
Mrs Beverly is represented as a most excellent wife, 
acting habitually under the guidance of the moral senti- 
ments and intellect ; but she is married to a being who, 
while he adores her, reduces her to beggary and misery. 
His sister utters an exclamation to this effect : — Why 
did just Heaven unite such an angel to so heartless a 
thing ! The parallel of this case occurs too often in 
real life ; oMy it is not 'just Heaven' that makes such 
matches, but ignorant and thoughtless human beings, 

* See Appendix, Note 2. 

f Casps ofthese lieada arc sold in the shops, and will be found 
bi many Phrenological Collections. 



who imagine themselves absolved from all obligation to 
study and obey the natural laws of Heaven, as an- 
nounced in the general arrangement of the universe. 
Phrenology will put it in the power of mankind to miti- 
gate these evils, when they choose to adopt its dictates 
as a practical rule of conduct. 

The justice and benevolence of rendering the indi- 
viduals themselves unhappy who neglect this great in- 
stitution of the Creator, become more striking when in 
the next place, we consider the effects, by the organic 
law, of such conduct on the cliildren of these ill-assort- 
ed unions. 

Physiologists, in general, are agreed, that a vigorous 
and healthy constitution of body in the parents, com- 
municates existence, in the most perfect state, to the 
offspring,* and many observers of mankind, as well as 
medical authors, have remarked, also the transmission, 
by hereditary descent, of mental talents and disposi- 
tions. 

Dr King, in speaking of the fatality which attended 
the House of Stewart, says, ' If I were to ascribe their 
calamities to another cause (than an evil fate,) or en- 
deavour to account for them by any natural means, I 
should think they were chiefly owing to a certain ob- 
stinacy of temper, which appears to have been heredi- 
tary and inherent in all the Stuarts, except Charles II.' 

It is well known that the caste of the Brahmins is 
the highest in point of intelligence as well as rank of 
all the castes in Hindostan ; and it is mentioned by the 
missionaries as an ascertained fact, that their children 
are naturally more acute, intelligent, and docile, than the 
children of the inferior castes, age and other circum- 
stances being equal. 

Dr Gregory, in treating of the temperaments in his 
Conspectus Mcdicince. Theoretics, says, ' Hujusmodi 
varietates non corporis modo, verum et aninii quoque, 
plerumque congenita, nonnun quam hsreditaris, obser- 
vantur. Hoc modo parentes saape in proles revi- 
viscunt ; certe parentibus liberi similes sunt, non vul- 
tnm modo et corporis formam, sed animi indolem, et 
virtutes, et vitia. Imperiosa gens Claudia diu Roma 
floruit, impigra, ferox, superba ; eadem illachrymabilem 
Tiberium, tristissimum tyrennum, produxit ; tandem 
in immanem Caligulam, et Claudium, et Agrippinain, 
ipsumque demum Neronem, post sexcentos annos, de- 
situra.'t — Cap. i. sect. 16. 

Phrenology reveals the principle on which these 
phenomona take place. Mental talents and disj)osi- 
tions are determined by the size and constitution of the 
brain. The brain is a portion of our organised system, 
and as such is subject to the organic laws, by one of 
which its qualities are transmitted by hereditary descent. 
This law, however faint or obscure it may appear in in- 
dividual cases, becomes absolutely undeniable in na- 
tions. When we place the collection of Hindoo, Cha- 
rib, Negro, New Holland, North American, and Euro- 
pean skulls, possessed by the Phrenological Society, 
in juxtaposition, we perceive a national form and com- 
bination of organs in each actually obtruding itself upon 
our notice, and corresponding with the mental charac- 
ters of the respective tribes ; the cerebral develop- 
ment of one tribe is seen to differ as widely from that 
of another, as the European mind does from that of the 
New Hollander. Here, then, each Hindoo, Chinese, 
New Hollander, Negro, and Charib, obviously inherits 
from his parents a certain general type of head ; and so 
does each European. If, then, the general forms and 
proportions are thus so palpably transmitted, can we 

* Very yqung hens lay small eggs ; but a breeder of fowls 
will never set these to be hatched, because the animals pro- 
duced be feeble and imperfectly developed. They select the 
largest and fi-eshest eggs, and endeavour to rear the healthiest 
stock possible. 

t Parents frequently live again in their offspring. It is quite 
certain that children resemble their parents, not only in counte- 
nance and the form of their body, but also in their mental dispo- 
Bitionsj in their virtues and vices, Stc. 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



29 



doubt that the individual varieties follow the same rule, 
modified slightly by causes peculiar to the parents of 
the individuall The difi'erences of national character 
are equally conspicuous as those of national brains, and 
it is surprising how permanently both endure. It is 
observed by an author in the Edinburgh Review, that 
• the Vicentine district is, as every one knows, and has 
been for ages, an int^rgral part of the Venetian domi- 
nions, professing the same religion, and governed by 
the same laws, as the other continental provinces of 
Venice ; yet the English character is not more different 
from the French, than that of the Vicentine from the 
Paduan ; while the contrast between the Vicentine and 
his other neighbours, the Veronese, is hardly less re- 
markable.' — No. Ixxxiv. p. 459. 

If, then, form, size, and constitution of brain, are 
transmitted from parents to children, if these determine 
natural mental talents and dispositions, which in their 
turn exercise the greatest infliifence over the happi- 
ness of individuals through the whole of life, it be- 
comes extremely important to discover according to 
what laws this transmission takes place. Three prin- 
ciples present themselves to our consideration, at the 
first aspect of the question. Either, in the first place, 
the constitution and qualities of brain, which the pa- 
rents themselves inherit at birth, are transmitted abso- 
lutely, so that the children, sex following sex, are exact 
copies, without variation or modification, of the one pa- 
rent or the other ; or, secondly, the natural and inherent 
qualities of the father and mother combine, and are 
transmitted in a modified form to the offspring; or, 
thirdly, the qualities of the children are determined 
jointly by the constitution of the stock, and by the fa- 
culties which predominate in power and activity in the 
parents, at the particular time when the organic exist- 
ence of each child commences. 

Experience shows that the first cannot be the law ; 
for, as often mentioned, a real law of nature admits of 
no exceptions, and it is well established, that the minds 
of children are iiot exact copies, without variation or 
modification, of those of the parents, sex following sex. 
Neither can the second be the law, because it is equal- 
ly certain that the minds of children, although some- 
times, are not always, in talents and disposition, per- 
fect modifications of those of the father and mother. 
If this law prevailed, no child would be a copy of the 
father, none a copy of the mother, nor of any collateral 
relation, but each would be invariably a compound of 
the two parents, and all the children would be exactly 
alike, sex only excepted. Experience shows, that this 
cannot be the law. What then, doeg experience say 
to the third idea, that the mental character of each child 
is determined by the particular qualities of the stock, 
combined with those which predominate in the parents, 
when its existence commenced. 

I have already adverted to the influence of the stock, 
and shall now illustrate that of the condition of the pa- 
rents, when existence is communicated. 

A strong illustration, in the case of the lower ani- 
mals, appeared in the Edinburgh Review, No. Irxxiv. 
p. 457. 

' Every one conversant with beasts,' says the review- 
er, ' knows, that not only their natural, but that many 
of their acquired qualities, are transmitted by the parents 
to their offspring. Perhaps the most curious example 
of the latter fact may be found in the pointer. 

' This animal is endowed with the natural instinct of 
winding game, and stealing upon his prey, which he 
surprises, having first made a short pause, in order to 
launch himself upon it with more security of success. 
This sort of semicolon in his proceedings, man converts 
into a full stop, and teaches him to be as much pleased 
at seeing the bird or beast drop by the shooter's gun, as 
at taking it iiimself. The staunchest dog of this kind, 
and of the original pointer, is of Spanish origin, and 
irur own, is derived from this race, crossed with that of 



the foxhound, or other breed of dog, for the sake of im- 
proving his speed. This mixed and factitious race, of 
course, naturally partakes less of the true pointer cha- 
racter ; that is to say, is less disposed to stop, or at 
least he makes a shorter stop at game. The factitious 
pointer is, however, disciplined, in this country, into 
staunchness ; and, what is most singular, this quali- 
ty IS, IN A GREAT DEGREE INHERITED BY HIS PUPPY, 

who, may be seen earnestly standing at swallows or 
pigeons in a farm-yard. For intuition, though it leads 
the offspring to exercise his parents' faculties, does not 
instruct him how to direct them. The preference of his 
master afterwards guides him iruhis selection, and teach- 
es him what game is better worth pursuit. On the 
other hand, the pointer of pure Spanish race, unless he 
happen to be well broke himself, which in the south of 
Europe seldom happens, produces a race which are all 
but unteachable, according to our notions of a pointer's 
business. They will make a stop at their game, as 
natural histinct prompts them, but seem incapable of 
being drilled into the habits of the animal, which edu- 
cation has formed in this country, and has rendered as 
I have said, in some degree, capable of transmittnig his 
acquirements to his descendants. 

' Acquired habits are hereditary in other animals be- 
sides dogs. English sheep, probably from the greater 
richness of our pastures, feed very much together ; 
while Scotch sheep are obliged to extend and scatter 
themselves over their hills, for the better discovery of 
food. Yet the English sheep, on being transferred to 
Scotland, keep their old habit of feeding in a mass, 
though so little adapted to their new country ; so do 
their descendants ; and the English sheep is not tho- 
roughly naturalized into the necessities of his place till 
the third generation. The same thing may be observ- 
ed as to the nature of his food, that is observed in his 
mode of seeking it. When turnips were introduced 
from England into Scotland, it was ojily the third gene- 
ration which heartily adopted this diet, the first having 
been starved into an acquiescence in it.' 

In these instances, long continued impressions on 
the parents appear to have at last effected change of dis- 
position in the offspring. 

' We have seen,' says an author whom I have al- 
ready quoted, ' how wonderfully the bee works — ac- 
cording to rules discovered by man thousands of years 
after the insect had followed them with perfect accu- 
racy. The same little animal seems to be acquainted 
with principles of which we are still ignorant. We 
can, by crossing, vary the forms of cattle with as- 
tonishing nicety ; but we have no means of altering 
the nature of an animal, once born, by means of treat- 
ment and feeding. "This power, however, is undeni- 
ably possessed by the bees. When the queen-bee is 
lost, by death or otherwise, they choose a grub from 
among those who are born for workers ; they make 
three cells into one, and placing the grub there, they 
build a tube round it ; they afterwards build another 
cell, of a pyramidal form, into which the grub grows : 
they feed it with peculiar food, and tend it with extreme 
care. It becomes, when transformed from the worm 
to the fly, not a worker, but a queen-bee.' — Objects, 
Advantages, and Pleasures of Science, p. 33. It is 
difficult to conceive that man will ever possess such a 
power as this last. 

Man, however, as an organized being, is subject t-j 
laws similar to those which govern the organization of 
the lower animals. Dr Pritchard, in his Researches into 
the Physical History of Mankind, has brought forwsSrd 
a variety of interesting facts and opinions on this sub- 
ject of transmission of hereditary qualities in the human 
race. He says, ' Children resemble, in feature and 
constitution, both parents, but, I think, more generally 
the father. In the breeding of horses and oxen, great 
importance is attached, by experienced propagators, to 
the male. In sheep, it is commonly observed that 



30 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



black rams beget black lambs. In the human species, 
also, the complexion chiefly follows that of the father ; 
and I believe it to he a general fact, that the offspring of 
a biack father and white mother is much darker than the 
proseny of a ichte father and a black mother.' — Vol. 
ii, p. 551. These facts appear to me to be referable to 
both causes. The stock must have had some influence, 
but the mother, in all these cases, is not impresse<l by 
her own colour, because she does not look on herself; 
while the father's complexion must strikingly attract her 
attention, and may, in this way, give the darker tinge 
to the offspring.* 

Dr Pritchard states the result of his investigations 
to be. First, That the organization of the offspring is 
always modelled according to the type of the original 
structure of the parent ; and Secondly, ' That changes, 
produced by external causes in the appearance or con- 
stitution of the individual are temporary ; and, in gene- 
ral, acquired characters are transient ; they terminate 
with the individual, and have no influence on the pro- 
geny.' — Vol. ii, p. 536. lie supports the first of these 
propo.sitions by a variety of facts occurring ' in the por- 
cupine family,' ' in the hereditary nature of com-. 
plexion,' and, ' in the growth of supernumerary fingers 
or toes, and corresponding deficiencies.' ' Mauf?fertuis 
has mentioned this phenomenon ; he assures us, that 
there were two families in Germany, who have been 
distinguished for several generations by six fingers on 
each hand, and the same number of toes on each foot,' 
&c. He admits, at the same time, that the second 
proposition is of more difficult proof, and that an 
opinion contrary to it ' has been maintained by some 
writers, and a variety of singular, facts have been re- 
lated in support of it.' But many of these relations, 
as he justly observes, are obviously fables. 

In regard to the foregoing propositions, I would ob- 
serve, that a manifest distinction exists between trans- 
mission of monstrosities, or mutilations, which consti- 
tute additions to, or abstractions from, the natural linea- 
ments of the body, and transmission of a mere tendency 
in particular organs to a greater or less development 
of their natural functions. This last appears to me to 
be influenced by the state of the parents, at the time 
when existence is communicated to the offspring. On 
this point Dr Pritchard says, ' The opinion which form- 
erly prevailed, and which has been entertained by some 
modern writers, among whom is Dr Darwin, that at the 
period when organization commences in the ovum, that 
is, at or soon after the time of conception, the structure 
of the foetus is capable of undergoing modification from 
impressions on the mind or senses of the parent, does 
not appear altogether so improbable. It is contradicted, 
at least, by no fact, in physiology. It is an opinion of 
very ancient prevalence, and may be traced to so re- 
mote a period, that its rise cannot be attributed to the 
speculations of philosophers, and it is difficult to ac- 
count for the origin of such a persuasion, unless we 
ascribe it to facts which happened to be observed,' 
p. 556. 

A striking and undeniable proof of the effect on the 
character and dispositions of children, produced by the 
form of brain transmitted to them by hereditary de- 
scent, is to be found in the progeny of marriages be- 
tween Europoans, whose brains possess a favourable 
development of the moral and intellectual organs, and 
Hindoos, and native Americans, whose brains arc infe- 
rior. All authors agree, and report the circumstance 
as singularly striking, that the children of such unions 
are decidedly superior in mental quahties to the native, 
while they are still inferior to the European parent. 
(Captain. Franklin says, that the half-bred American In- 
dians ' are upon the whole a good lookhig people ; and, 
where the experiments have been made, have shown 
much cxpertness in learning, and willingness to be taught, 
they have, however, been sadly neglected,' p. 86. He 
* Black hena lay dark-coloured eggs. 



adds, ' It has been remarked, I do not know with what 
truth, that half breeds show more personal courage 
than the pure breeds.' Captain Basil Hall, and rcner 
writei-s on South America, mention that the oi'Ii^pring 
of native American and Spanish parents, constitute 
the most active, vigorous, and pov^erful portion of the 
inhabitants of these countries ; and many of them rose 
to high commands during the revolutionary war. So 
much is this the case in Hindostan, that several writers 
have already pointed to the mixed race there, as obvi- 
ously destined to become the future sovereigns of In- 
dia. These individuals inherit from the native parent 
a certain adaptation to the climate, and from the Eu- 
ropean parent a higher development of brain, tne two 
combined constituting their superiority. 

Another example of the same law occurs in Persia. 
In that country, it is said that the custom has existed 
for ages am.ong the nobles, of purchasing beautiful fe- 
male Circassian captives, and forming alliances with 
them as wives. It is ascertained that the Circassian 
form of brain stands comparatively high in the develop- 
ment of the moral and intellectual organs.* And it is 
mentioned by some travellers, that the race of nobles 
in Persia is the most gifted in natural qualities, bodily 
and mental, of any class of that people ; a fact dia- 
metrically 0])posite to that which takes place in Spain, 
and other European countries, where the nobles inter- 
marry constantly with each other, and set the organic 
laws altogeilier at defiance. 

The degeneracy and even idiocy of some of the no- 
ble and roval families of Spain and Portugal, from mar- 
rying nieces, and other near relations, is well known ; 
and defective brains, in all these cases are observed. 

The father of Napoleon Bonaparte, says Sir 
Vi'^ALTER Scott, ' is stated to have possessed a very 
handsome person, a talent for eloquence, and a vivacity 
of intellect which he transmitted to his son.' ' It was 
in the middle of civil discord, fights, and skirmishes, 
that Charles Bonaparte mi/ried L.AiT!fiA Iv.t.MO- 
LiNi, one of the most beautiful young women of the 
island, and possessed of a great deal of firmness of cha- 
acter. She partook of the dangers of her husband 
during the years of civil war, and is said to have accom- 
panied him on horseback on some military expeditions 
or perhaps hasty flights, shortly before her being deliv- 
ered of the future Emperor.' — Life o/ Napoleon Bo- 
naparte, vol. iii, p. 6. 

The murder of David Rizzio was perpetrated by 
armed nobles, with many circumstances of violence 
and terror, in the presence of Mary, Queen of Scot- 
land, shortly before the birth of her son, afterwards 
James the First of England. The constitutional lia- 
bihty of this monarch to emotions of fear, is recorded 
as a characteristic of his mind ; and it has even been 
mentioned that he started involuntarily at the sight of 
a drawn sword. Queen Mary was not deficient in 
courage, and the Stuarts, both before and after James 
the First, were distinguished for this quality ; so that 
he was a marked exception to the dispositions of his 
family. Napoleon and James form striking contrasts ; 
and it may be remarked that the mind of Napoleon's 
mother appears to have risen to the danger to which she 
was exposed, and braved it ; while the circumstances 
in which Queen Mary was placed, v/ere calculated to 
inspire her with fear alone. 

Farther evidence of the same law ma}'' still be men- 
tioned. Esquirol, the celebrated French medical 
writer, in adverting to the causes of madness, mentions 
that many children whose existence dated from periods 
when the horrors of the French Revolution were at 
their height, turned out subsequently to be weak, nerv- 

*In Mr W. Allan's picture of the Circassian Captives, the 
form of tlie hoad is said to be a copy from nature, taken by that 
artL-^t, when he visited the country. It is engraved by Mr James 
Stewart with srrcat beauty and fideiity, and may be consulted as 
an example of the superiority of Circassian deveiopmem of tho 
brain. 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



31 



ens, and irritable in mind, extremely susceptible of im- 
pressions, and liable, by the least extraordinary excite- 
ment, to be thrown into absolute insanity. Again, in a 
case which fell under my observation,lhe father of a family 
■was sick, had a partial recovery, but relapsed, declined, 
and in two months died. Seven months after his death, a 
son was born, of the full age ; and the origin of whose 
existence was referable to the period of the partial re- 
covery. At that time, and during the subsequent two 
mouths, the faculties of the mother were in the highest 
state of excitement, in ministering to her husband, to 
whom she was greatly attached ; and, after his death, 
the same excitement continued to operate, for she was 
then loaded with the charge of a numerous family, but 
not depressed ; for her circumstances were comforta- 
ble. The child is now more than ten years old ; and, 
while his constitution is the most delicate, his develop- 
ment of the mental organs, and the natural activity of 
these, is decidedly the greatest of the family. Another 
illustration of the same law is found in the fact, that, 
when two parties marry ver}^ young, the eldest of their 
children generally inherits a less favorable development 
of the moral and intellectual organs, than those pro- 
duced in more mature age, — which is in exact corres- 
pondence with the doctrine, that the animal faculties 
in men, in general, are most vigorous in early life, and 
will then be most readily transmitted to offspring. In- 
deed, it appears difficult to account for the wide varie- 
ties in the form of the brain in children of the same fa- 
mily, unless on the principle, that the organs which 
predominate in activity and vigor in the parents, at the 
time when existence is communicated, determine the 
tendency of corresponding organs to develop them- 
selves largely in the children. If this is really the law 
of nature, as there is great reason for believing, then 
parents, in whom combativeness and destrucliveness 
are in habitual activity, will transmit these organs, in 
a state of high development and excitement, to their 
children ; and those in whom the moral and intellectual 
organs exist in supreme vigour, v/ill transmit these in 
greatest perfection. 

This view is in harmony with the fact that children 
generally, although not universally, reseijible the parents 
in their mental qualities ; because the largest organs 
being naturally the most active, the general and habitual 
state of the parents will be strongly marked by those 
which predominate in size in their own brains ; and on 
the principle of predominance in activity and energy 
causing the transmission of similar qualities to the 
offspring, the children will, in this way, very generally 
resemble the parents. But they will not always do so ; 
because, even Mary Macinnes, in whom the moral and 
intellectual organs were extremely deficient, might have 
been exposed to external influences which, for the time 
being, might have excited them to unwonted vivacity ; 
and, according to the rule, as now explained, a child, 
dating its existence from that period, micht have in- 
herited a higher organization of brain than her own. 
Or, a person with a very excellent moral development, 
might, by some particular occurrence, have his animal 
propensities roused to unwonted vigour, and his moral 
sentiments thrown, for the time, into the shade ; and 
any offspring connected with that condition, would 
prove inferior to himself in the development of the moral 
organs, and greatly surpass him in the size of those of 
the propensities. 

I do not present these views as ascertained phreno- 
logical science, but as inferences strongly supported by 
facts, and consistent with known phenomena. If' we 
suppose them to be true, they will greatly strengthen 
, the motives for preserving the habitval supremacy of 
the moral sentiments and intellect, when, by doing so, 
improved moral and intellectual capacities may be con- 
ferred on offspring. If it be true that this lower world, 
BO far as man is concerned, is framed to harmonize with 
the supremacy of the higher faculties of the mind, what 

c 



a noble prospect would this law open up of the possi- 
bility of man ultnnately becoming capable of placing 
himself more fully in accordance with the Divine insti- 
tutions, than he has hitherto been able to accomplish ; 
and, in consequence, of reaping numberless enjoyments 
that appear destined for him by his Creator, and avoid- 
ing thousands of miseries that now render his life a se- 
ries of calamities. The views here expounded also • 
harmonize with the second principle of this Essay, 
namely. That, as activity in the faculties is the fountain 
of enjoyment, the whole constitution of nature is de- 
signedly framed to call on them for ceaseless exertion. 
What scope f.ir observation, reflection, the exercise of 
moral sentiments, and regulating of animal impulse, 
does not this picture of nature present ! 

I cordially agree, however, with Dr Pritchard, that 
this subject is still involved in very great obscurity. 
' We know not,' says he, 'by 'what means any of the 
facts we remark are effected ; and the utmost we caa 
hope to attain, is, by tracing the connexion of circum- 
stances, to learn from what combinations of them we 
may expect to witness particular results,' — Vol. ii, j). 
542. But much of the darkness may be traced to the 
past ignorance of mankind concerning the functions of 
the brain. If we consider that it has all along been the 
most important organ of our system ; that, from its of- 
fice, mental impressions must almost necessarily have 
exercised a powerful influence over the development 
of its parts, and that the relative size of these deter- 
mines the predominance of pariicular talents and dis- 
positions ; but, nevertheless, that all past observations 
have been conducted without the knowledge of these 
principles ; it will not appear marvellous that merely 
confusion and contradiction have existed in the results 
drawn. At the present moment, accordingly, almost 
all that phrenologists can pretend to accomplish, is, to 
point out the mighty void ; to offer an exposition of its 
causes ; and to state such inferences as their own very 
limited observations have hitherto enabled them to de- 
duce. Far from pretending to be in possession of cer- 
tain and complete knowledge on this subject, I am in- 
clined to think, that, although every conjecture now 
hazarded were true, several centuries of observation will 
probably be required to render the principles completely 
practical. At present we have almost no information 
concerning the effects, on the children, of different 
temperaments, of different combinations in the cere- 
bral organs, of differences of age, &c. in the parents. 

It is astonishing, however, to what extent mere pecu- 
niary interests excite men to investigate and observ« 
the Natural Laws, and how small an influence moral 
and rational consideratj^ns exert in leading them to do 
so. Before a common insurance company will under- 
take the risk of paying £ 1 00, on the death of an indi- 
vidual, they require the following questions to be an- 
swered by credible and intelligent witnesses : 

' 1. How long have you known Mr A B 1 

' 2. Has he had the gout I 

' 3. Has he had a spitting of blood, asthma, consump- 
tion, or other pulmonary complaint 1 

' 4 Do you consider him at all predisposed to any of 
t'ncse complaints '! 

' 5. Has he been afllicted with fits, or mental derange- 
ment 1 

' 6. Do you think his constitution perfectly good, in 
the common acceptation of the term 1 

' 7. Are his habits in every respect strictly regular 
and temperate 1 

' 8. Is he at present in good health 1 

' 9. Is there any thing in his form, habits of livincf, 
or business, which you are of opinion may shorten hia 
lifel 

' 10. What complaints arc his family most subiect 
to^ 

'11. Are you aware of any reason why an insurance 
might not with safety be effected on his life !' 



32 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



A man and woman about to marry, have in the gene- 
ral case, the health and happiness of five or more hu- 
man beings depending on their attention to considera- 
tion, essentially the same as the foregoing, and yet 
how much less scrupulous are they than the mere spec- 
ulators in money. 

There is no moral difficulty in admitting and admir- 
■ ing the wisdom and benevolence of the institution, by 
which good qualities are transmitted from parents to 
children ; but it is frequently held as unjust to the lat- 
ter, that they should inherit parental deficiencies, and 
so be made to suffer for sins which they did not com- 
mit. In solving this difficulty, I must again refer to 
the supremacy of the moral sentiments, as the theory 
of the constitution of the world. The animal propen- 
sities are all selfish, and regard only the immediate and 
apparent interest of the individual ; while the higher 
sentiments delight in that which communicates the 
greatest quantity of enjoyment to the greatest number. 
Now, let us suppose the law of hereditary descent to 
be abrogated altogether, that is to say, that each indi- 
vidual of the race at birth were endowed with fixed 
natural qualities, without the slightest reference to 
•what his parents had been, or done ; — this form of con- 
stitution would obviously cut off every possibility of 
improvement in the race. Every phrenologyist knows, 
that the New Hollanders, Charibs, and other savage 
tribes, are distinguished by great deficiencies in 'the 
moral and intellectual organs.* If, however, it be true, 
that considerable development of intellectual organs 
is-indispensable to the comprehension of science, and 
the practice of virtue, it would, on the present suppo- 
sition, be impossible to raise the Nev\' Hollanders, as a 
people, one step higher in capacity for intelligence and 
virtue than they now are. We might cultivate each ge- 
neration up to the limit of its powers, but there the im- 
provement, and a low one it would be, would stop ; for the 
next generation, being produced with brains equally defi- 
cient in the moral and intellectual regions, no principle of 
increasing amelioration would exist. The same re- 
marks are applicable to every tribe of mankind. If we 
assume modern Europeans as the standard, then, if the 
law of hereditar}' descent were abrogated, every defi- 
ciency that at this moment is attributable to imperfect 
or disproportionate development of brain, would be ir- 
remediable, and continue as long as the race existed. 
Each generation might be cultivated till the summit 
level of its capacities was attained, but there each suc- 
ceeding generation would remain. When we contrast 
with this prospect the vei-y opposite effects flowing 
from the law of hereditary transmission of qualities in 
an increasing ratio, the whole advantages are at once 
perceived to be on the side of the latter constitution. 
According to this rule, the childi'en of the individuals 
who have obeyed the organic, the moral, and the intel- 
lectual laws, would start from the highest level of their 
parents, not only in acquired knowledge, but in conse- 
quence of that very obedience, they would inherit an 
enlarged development of the moral and intellectual or- 
gans, and thereby enjoy an increasing capability of dis- 
covering and obeying the Creator's institutions. This 
improvement, will, no doubt, have its limits ; but it 
may probably extend to that point at which man will 
be caj)able of placing himself in harmony with the natu- 
ral laws. The effort necessary to maintain himself 
there, will still provide for the activity of his faculties. 

2dly, We may suppose the law of hereditary descent 
10 be limited to the transmission of good, and abrogated 
as to the transmission of bad qualities ; and it ma)' be 
thought that this arrangement would be more benevo- 
lent and just. There are objections to this view, how- 
ever, which do not occur at once to the mind. We see 
as matter of fact, that a vicious and debased parent is 
actually defective in the moral and intellectual organs. 

* This farr is demonstraieil by speoimens in most Phrcnolo- 
Kal Collections. 



Now, if his children should take up exactly the same 
development as himself, this would be transmission of 
imperfections, which is the very point objected to ; or, 
if he were to take up a development fixed by nature, 
and not at all referable to that of the parent ; this v ould 
render the whole race stationary in their first conditik^n, 
without the possibility of improvement in their capaci- 
ties, which also we have seen would be an ervi] greatlj 
to be deprecated. 

3dly. The bad development might be supposed to 
transmit, by hereditary descent,- a good developnieni ; 
but this would set at naught the supremacy of justice 
and Ijenevolence ; it would render the consequences of 
contempt for, and violation of the divine laws, and of 
obedience to them, in this particular, precisely alike. 
The debauchee, the cheat, the murderer, and the 
robber, would according to this view, be able to 
look upon the prospects of their prosperity, with the 
same confidence in their welfare and happiness, as the 
pious and intelligent Christian, who had sought to 
know God and to obey his institutions during his whole 
life. Certainly no individual, in whom the higher sen- 
timents prevail, will for a moment regard this iiriagined 
change as any improvement on the Creator's arrange- 
ments. What a host of motives to mo-rai and religioua 
conduct would at once be withdrawn, were suth a 
spectacle of divine government exhibited to th& mind. 
In proportion as the brain is improved, the aptitude of 
man for discovering and obeying the natural laws will 
be increased. For example, it appears to me that the na- 
tive American savages, and native New Hollanders, 
cannot, with their present brains, adopt Euroyiean f "vi- 
lization. The reader will find in the Pnrenolog..vJ 
Collections specimens of their skulls, and, on compa- 
ring them with those of Europeans, he will observe 
that in the former, the organs of reflecting intellect, 
Ideality, Conscientiousness, and Benevolence, are 
greatly inferior in size to the same organs in the latter. 
If, by obeying the organic laws, the moral and intellec- 
tual organs of these savages could be considerably en- 
larged, they would desire civilization, and would adopt 
it when offered. If this view be well founded, all means 
used for their cultivation, which are not calculated at 
the same time to improve their cerebral organization, 
will be limited in their efi'ects by the narrow capacities 
attending their present development. In youth, all the 
organs of the body are more susceptible of modifica- 
tion than in advanced age ; and hence the effects of ed- 
ucation on the young may arise from the greater sus- 
ceptibility of the brain to impressions at that period than 
later. 

4thly. It may be supposed that human happiness 
would have been more completely secured, by endow- 
ing all individuals at birth with that degree of develop- 
ment of the moral and intellectual organs, which would 
have best fitted them for discovering and obeying tho 
Creator's institutions, and by preventing all aberrations 
from this standard ; just as the lower animals appear 
to have received instincts and capacities, adjusted vi'ith 
the most perfect wisdom to their conditions. Two re- 
marks occur on this supposition. First ; We are 1 ot 
competent at present to judge correctly how frr tho 
development actually bestowed on the human race, 
is, or is not, wisely adapted to their circumstances ; 
for there may, by possibility, be departments in the 
great system of human society, exactly suited to all ex- 
isting forms of brain, not iniperfect through disease, 
if our knowledge wL:re sufficient to discover them. The 
want of a natural index to the mental disjiositions and 
capacities of individuals, and of a philosophical theory 
of the constitution of society, has hitherto precluded 
the possibility of arriving at sound conclusions on uliia 
question. It appears to me probable, that while there 
may be great room for improvement in the talents and 
dispositions of vast numbers of individvials, the imper- 
fections of the race in general may not be so great, as 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



33 



we, in our present state of ignorance of the aptitudes 
of particular persons for particular situations, are prone 
to infer. But, secondly, on the principle that activity in 
the faculties is the fountain of enjoyment, it may be con- 
sidered whether additional motives to the exercise of 
the moral and intellectual powers, and consequently, 
greater happiness, are not conferred by leaving men. 
within certam limits, to regulate the talents and ten- 
dencies of their descendants, than by endowing each 
individual with the best qualities, independently of the 
conduct of his parents. 

On the whole, therefore, there seems reason for con- 
cludmg, that the actual institution, by which both good 
and bad qualities* are transmitted, is fraught with 
higher advantages to the race, than the abrogation of 
the law of transmission altogether; or than the sup- 
posed change of it, by which bad men would trans- 
mit good qualities to their children. The actual law, 
when viewed b}^ the moral sentiments and intellect, 
both in its principles and consequences, appears bene- 
ficial and expedient. When an individual sufl'erer, 
therefore, complains of its operation, he regards it 
through the animal faculties alone ; his self-love is 
annoyed and he carries his thought no farther. He 
never stretches his mind forward to the consequences 
to mankind at large, if the law which grieves him were 
reversed. Tlae animal faculties regard nothing beyond 
their own immediate and apparent interest, and they do 
not even discern it correctly ; for no arrangement that 
is beneficial for the race can be injurious to individuals, 
if its operations in regard to them were distinctly trac- 
ed. The abrogation of the rule, therefore, under which 
they complain, would, we may be certain, bring ten 
thousand times greater evils, even upon themselves, 
than its continuance. 

On the other hand, an individual sufferer imdcr a he- 
reditary pain, in whom the moral and intellectual facul- 
ties predominate, who should see the principle and 
consequences of the institution of hereditary descent, 
as now explained, would not murmur at them as un- 
just; he would bow with submission, to an institu- 
tion, which he perceived to be fraught with blessings 
to the race, when it was known and observed, and the 
very practice of this reverential acquiescence would be 
so delightful, that it would diminish, in a great degree, 
the severity of the evil. Besides, he would see the 
door of mercy standing widely open, and inviting his 
return ; he would perceive that every step which he 
made in his own person towards exact obedience to 
the Creator's institutions, would remove by so much 
the organic penalty transmitted through his parents' 
transgressions, and that his posterity would reap the 
full benefits of his more dutiful observance. 

It may be objected to the law of hereditary transmis- 
sion of organic qualities, that the children of a blind and 
lame father have sound eyes and limbs : But, in the 1st 
place, these defects are generally the result of accident 
or disease, occurring either during pregnancy, or poste- 
rior to birth, and seldom or never the operation of iia- 
fure ; and, consequently, the original physical princi- 
ples remaining entire in the constitution, the bodily im- 
perfections are not transmitted to the progeny. 2dly. 
Where the defects are congenite or constitutional, it 
frequently happens that they are transmitted through 
successive generations. This is exemplified in deaf- 
ness, in blindness, and even in the possession of super- 
numerary fingers or toes. The reason why such pecu- 
liarities are not transmitted to all the progeny, appears 

* In using the popular expressions ' good qualities, and ' bad 
qualities,' I do ncit mean lo insinuate, that any of the tendencies 
bfstov^ed on man are essentially bad in themselves. Destruc- 
liVeness and Acquisitiveness, for example, are, when properly 
directed, unquestionably good ; but they become the sources of 
evil, when their organs are too large, in proportion to those of 
the moral sentiments and intellect. .By bad qualities, therefore, 
1 III ways mean either disease, or unfavorable proportions amon^ 
tha different organs. 

No. 16. 



to be simply that, in general, only one parent is defec- 
tive. If the father, for instance, be blind or deaf, the mo- 
ther is generally free from that imperfection, and her 
influence iiaturally extends to, and modifies the result 
in, the progeny. 

If the law of hereditary transmission of mental qua- 
lities be, as now explained, dependent on the organs ia 
highest excitement in the parents, it will account for 
the varieties, along with the general resemblance, that 
occur in children of the same marriage. It will account 
also for the circumstance of genius being sometimes 
transmitted and sometimes not. Unless both parents pos- 
sess the developments and temperament of genius, the law 
would not certainly transmit these qualities to the chil- 
dren; and even although both did possess these endow- 
ments, they would be transmitted only on condition of t'ne 
parents obeying the organic lav>fs, one of which forbids that 
excessive exertion of the mental and corporeal functions, 
which exhausts and debilitates the system ; an error 
almost universally committed by persons endowed witU 
high original talent, under the present condition of igno- 
rance of the natural laws, and erroneous fashions and 
institutions of society. The supposed law would be 
disproved by cases of weak, imbecile, and vicious chil- 
dren, being born to parents whose own constitution and 
habits had been in the highest accordance with the or- 
ganic, moral, and intellectual lav/s ; but no such cases 
have hitherto come under my observation. 

Farther ; after birth, it is quite certain that the organs 
most active in the parents have a decided tendency to 
cause and increase in the size of corresponding organs 
in the children, by habitually exciting and exercising 
them, which favors their growth. According to this 
law, habitual severity, chiding, and imperious conduct, 
proceeding from over-active Self-esteem and Destruc- 
tiveness in the parents, rouse these faculties in the chil- 
dren, produce hatred and resistance, and increase the 
activity of the same organs, while those of the moral 
sentim.ents and intellect are left in a state of apathy. 

Ri les, however, are best taught h>y examples ; and 
I shall, therefore, proceed to mention some facts that 
have fallen under my own notice, or been communi- 
cated to me from authentic sources, illustrative of the 
practical consequences of infringing the law of heredi- 
tary descent. 

A man, aged about fifty, possessed a brain, in which 
the animal, moral and knowing intellectual organs were 
all strong, but the reflecting weak. He was pious, but 
destitute of education ; he married an unhealthy ycfung 
woman, deficient in moral development, but of consider- 
able force of character ; and several children were born. 
The father and mother were far from being happy ; and 
when the children attained to eighteen or twenty years 
of age, t'ney yvere adepts in every species of immorality 
and profligacy ; they picked their father's pockets, stole 
his goods, and got them sold back to him, by accom- 
plices, for money, which was spent in betting andccci; 
fighting, drinking, and low debauchery. The father 
was heavily grieved ; but knowing only two resources, 
he beat the children severely as long as he was able, 
and pi^ayed for them ; his ov/n words were, that ' if 
afier that, it pleased the Lord to make vessels of wrath 
of them, the Lord's will must just be done.' I men- 
tion this last observation, not in jest, but in great 
seriousness. It was impossible not to pity the unhap- 
py father ; yet, who that sees the institutions of the 
Creator to be in themselves wise, but in this instance 
to have been directly violated, will not acknowledga 
that the bitter pangs of the poor old man were the con- 
sequences of his own ignorance ; and that it was an 
erroneous view of the divine administration, which led 
him to overlook his own mistakes, and to attribute f- 
the Almighty the purpose of making vessels of wrath o/ 
his children, as the only explanation which he could 
give of their wicked dispositions. Who that sees the 
cause of his misery must not lament that his piety shoiild 



34 



^ CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



not have been enlightened by philosophy, and directad 
to obedience, in the first instance, to the organic .insti- 
tutions of the Creator, as one of the prescribed condi- 
tions, without observance of which he had no title to ex- 
pect a blessing upon his offspring. 

In another instance, a man, in whom the animal or- 
gans, particularly those of Combativeness and Destruc- 
tiveness, were very large, but with a pretty fair moral 
and intellectual development, married, against her in- 
clination, a young woman, fashionable and showily edu- 
cated, but with a very decided deficiency and Conscien- 
tiousness. They sooiibecameunhap])y and even blows 
were said to have passed between them, although they 
belonged to the middle rank of life. The mother, in 
this case, employed the children to deceive and plunder 
the father, and, latterly, spent the produce in drink. 
The sons inherited the deficient morality of the mother, 
and the ill temper, of the father. The family fireside 
became a theatre of war, and, before the sons attained 
majority, the father was glad to get them removed from 
his house, as the only means by which he could feel 
even his life in safety from their violence ; for they 
'had by that time retaliated the blows with which he had 
visited them in their younger years ; and he stated that 
:he actually considered his hfe to be in danger from his 
own offspring. 

In another family, the mother possesses an excellent 
development of the moral and intellectual organs, while, 
in the father, the animal organs predominate in great 
excess. She has been the unhappy victim of ceaseless 
misfortune, originating from the misconduct of her 
husband. Some of the children have inherited the fa- 
ther's brain, and some the mother's ; and of the sons 
whose heads resembled the father's, several have died 
tlii-ough mere debauchery and profligacy under thirty 
years of age : whereas, those who resemble the mother 
are alive and little contaminated, even amidst all the 
disadvantages of evil example. 

On the other hand, I am not acquainted with a sin- 
gle instance in which the moral and intellectual organs 
predominated in size, in both father and mother.'^and 
whose external circumstances also permitted their gene- 
ral activity, in which the whole children did not partake 
of a m.oral and intellectual character, diflering slisihtly 
in degrees of excellence one from another, but all pre- 
senting the decided predominance of the human over 
the animal faculties. 

There are well-known examjiles of the children of 
religious and moral fathers exhibiting dispositions of a 
very inferior description ; but in all of these instances 
that I have been able to observe, there has been a large 
development of the animal organs in the one parent, 
which was just controlled, but not much more, by the 
moral and intellectual powers ; and in the other parent, 
the moral organs did not appear to be in large propor- 
tion. The unfortunate child inherited the large animal 
development of the one, with the defective moral de- 
velopment of the other ; and, in this way, was infe- 
rior to both. The way to satisfy one's self on this 
point, is to examine the heads of the parents. In all 
such cases, a large base of the brain, which is the re- 
gion of the animal propensities, will very probably be 
found in one or other of them. 

Another organic law of the animal kingdom deserves 
attention ; viz. that by which marriages betwixt blood 
relations tend decidedly to the deterioration of the phy- 
sical and mental quahties of the offspring. In Spain 
kings marry their nieces, and, in this country, first and 
second cousins marry without scruple ; although every 
philosophical physiologist will declare that this is in 
direct opposition to the institutions of nature. This 
law holds also in the vegetable kingdom. * A provi- 
sion, of a very simple kind, is, in some cases, made 
to prevent the male and female blossoms of the same 
•plant from breeding together, this being found to hurt 
ihe breed of vegetables, just as breeding in and in does 



the breed of animals. It is contrived, that the dust 
shall be shed by the male blossom before the female is 
ready to be affected by it, so that the impregnation 
must be performed by the dust of some other plant, 
and in this way the breed be crossed.' — Objects ^-c, 0} 
Science, p. 33. , 

On the same principle, it is found highly advantageous 
in agriculture not to sow grain of the same stock in 
constant succession on the same soil. In individual 
instances, if the soil and plants are both possessed of 
great vigour and the highest qualities, the san>e kind of 
grain may he reaped in succession twice or thrice, with 
less perceptible deterioration than where these elements 
of reproduction are feeble and imperfect ; and the same 
tning appears in the animal kingdom. If the first indi- 
viduals connected in near relationship, who unite in 
marriage, are uncommonly robust, and possess very 
favorably developed brains, their offspring may not be 
so much deteriorated below the common standard of 
the country as to attract particular attention, and the 
law of nature is, in this instance, supposed not to hold ; 
but it does hold, for to a law of nature there never is 
an exception. The offspring are uniformly inferior to 
what they would have been, if the parents had united 
with strangers in blood of equal vigour and cerebral de- 
velopment. Whenever there is any remarkable defi- 
ciency in parents who are related in blood, these ap- 
pear in the most marked and aggravated forms in the 
offspring. This fact is so well known, and so easily 
ascertained, that I forbear to enlarge upon it. So 
much for miseries arising from neglect of the organic 
laws in forming the domestic compact. 

I proceed to advert to those evils which arise from 
overlooking the operation of the same laws in ordinary 
relations of society. 

How many little annoyances arise from the miscon- 
duct of servants and dependants in various departments 
of life ; how many losses, and sometimes ruin,' arise 
from dishonesty and knavery- in confidential clerks, part- 
ners, and agents. A mercantile house of great reputa- 
tion, in Loi;don, was ruined and became bankrupt, by 
a clerk having embezzled a prodigious extent of funds, 
and absconded to America ; another company in 
Edinburgh, was talked of about a year ago, which had 
sustained a great loss by a similar piece of dishonesty ; 
a company in Paisley was ruined by one of the partners 
having collected the funds, and eloped with them to the 
United Stales ; and lately, several bankers, and other 
persons, suffered severely in Edinburgh, by the conduct 
of an individual, some time connected with the public 
press. If it be true, then, that the mental qualities and 
dispositions of individuals are indicated and influenced 
by the development of their brains, and that their ac- 
tual conduct is the result of this development, ope- 
rated upon by their external circumstances, including 
in this latter every moral and intellectual influence 
coming from without, is it not obvious, that one and all 
of the evils here enumerated flowed from infringement 
of the natural institutions, that is to sav, from havin.cf 
placed human beings decidedly deficient in moral or 
intellectual qualities in situations where these v\'cre re- 
quired in a higher degree than thoy possessed them 1 

If any man were to go to sea in a paper boat, which 
the very fluidity of the element would dissolve, no one 
would be surprised at his being drowned : and, in like 
manner, if the Creator has constituted the brain so as 
to exert a great influence on the mental dispositions, 
and if, nevertheless, men are pleased to treat this fact 
with neglect and contempt, and to place individuals, 
naturally deficient in the moral organs, in situations 
where a great degree of these sentiments is required, 
they have no cause to be surprised if they suffer the 
penalties of their own misconduct, in being plundered 
and defrauded. 

Although I can state, from experience, that it is pos- 
sible, by the aid of Phrenology, to select individuals 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



35 



whose moral and intellectual qualities may be relied on ; 
yet the extremely limited extent of our practical know- 
''edge in this respect falls to be confessed. To be able 
to judge accurately what combination of natural talents 
und dispositions in an individual will best fit him for 
tny given employment, we require to have seen a va- 
riety of combmations tried in that particular department, 
and to have no'ied their effects. It is impossible, at 
least for me, to anticipate with unerring certainty, what 
these effects will be : but I have ever found nature con- 
stant and after once discovering, by experience, an 
assortment of qualities suited to a particular duty, I 
have found no subsequent exception to the rule. Cases 
in which the predominance of particular regions of the 
brain as the moral and intellectual, is very decided, 
present fewest difficulties ; although, even in them, the 
very deficiency of animal organs may sometimes inca- 
j)acitate an individual for important stations ; but where 
the three classes of organs, the animal, moral, and in- 
tellectual, are nearly in (zquilibrio, the most opposite 
results may ensue by external circumstances exciting 
the one or the other to decided predominance in activity. 

Having now adverted to calamities by external vio- 
lence,- — to bad health, — ^unhappiness in the domestic 
circle, arising from ill-advised unions, and viciously dis- 
posed children, — to the evils of placing individuals, as 
servants, clerks, partners, public instructers, &c, in sit- 
uations to which they are not suited, by their natural 
qualities, and traced all of them to infringements or 
neglect of the physical or organic laws, I proceed to 
advert to the last, and what is reckoned the greatest of 
all calamities, death, and which itself is obviously a 
part of the organic law. Baron Cuvier, after stating 
that the world we inhabit was at first fluid, and that 
highly crystalline rocks were deposited before animal 
or vegetable life began, has demonstrated, that then 
came the lowest orders of zoophvtes and of vegetables, 
— next fishes and reptiles,- — and trees in vast forests, 
giving origin to our present beds of coal, then quadru- 
peds and birds, and shells and plants, resembling those 
of the present era, but all of Vvfliich, as species, have 
utterly perished from the earth ; next came alluvial 
rocks, containing bones of mammoths, &c, and last of 
all came man. (Cuvier's Preface to his Ossemens Fos- 
siles, and papers by Dr Fleming in Chalmer's Journal.) 
This shows that destruction of vegetable and' animal 
life were institutions, of nature before man became an 
inhabitant of the globe. It is beyond the compass of 
philosophy to explain ivhy the world was so constituted. 
I therefore make no inquiry why death was instituted, 
and refer, of course, only to the dissolution of organized 
bodies, and not at all to the state of the soul or mind 
after its separation from the body. These belong to 
Revelation. 

Let us view the dissolution of the body abstractedly 
from personal considerations, as a mere natural ar- 
rangement. Death, then, appears to be a result of the 
constitution of all organized beings ; for the very de- 
finition of the genus, is, that the individuals grow, at- 
tain maturity, decay, and die. The human imagination 
cannot conceive how the former part of this series of 
movements could exist without the latter, as long as 
space is necessary to corporeal existence. If all the 
vegetable and animal productions of nature; from crea- 
tion downwards, had grown, attained maturity, and 
there remained, this world would not have been capa- 
ble of containing one thousandth part of them ; so that, 
on this earth, decaying and dying appear indispensably 
necessary to admit of reproduction and growth. View- 
ed abstractedly, then, organized beings live as long as 
health and vigour continue ; but they are subjected to 
a process of decay, which impairs gradually all their 
functions, and at last terminates in their dissolution. 
Now, in the vegetable world, the effect of this law, is, 
to surround us with young forests, in place of the mo- 
notony of everlasting stately full grown woods, stand- 



ing forth in awful endless majesty, witho\it variation in 
leaf or bough ; — with the vernal bloom of the meadows 
changing gracefully into the vigour of summer, and the 
maturity of autumn ; — with the rose, first simply and 
delicately budding, next fresh and lovely in its blow 
and then rich and luxuriant in its perfect condition. In 
short, when we advert to the law of death, as insti- 
tuted in the Vegetable organized kingdom, ar^d as re- 
lated to our own faculties of Ideality, Wonder, &c, 
which desire and delight in the very changes which 
death introduces, we without hesitation exclaim, that all 
is wisely, admirably, and wonderfully made. Turning 
again, to the animal kingdom, the same fundamental 
principle prevails. Death removes the old, the worn 
out, and decaying, and, in their place, the organic law 
introduces the young, the gay, and the vigorous, to 
tread the stage with increased agility and delight. 

This transfer of existence may readily be granted to 
be beneficial to the young ; but, at first sight, it appears 
the opposite of benevolent to the old. To have lived 
at all, is felt as giving a right to continue to live ; and 
the question arises, how can the institution of death, 
as the result of the organic laws, be recouciled with 
Benevolence and Justice 1 

In treating of the supremacy of the sentiments, I 
pointed out, that the grand distinction between them 
and the propensities, consist in this, that the former are 
disinterested, generous, and fond of the general food, 
and the latter altogether selfish in their desires. It is 
obvious, that death, as an institution of the Creator, 
must afl^ect these two classes of faculties in the most 
different manner. The propensities, being confined in 
their gratification to self, and having no reference to 
the welfare of any other creature, a being endowed onlr 
with them and reflecting intellect, and enabled, by the 
latter, to discover death and its consequences, would 
regard it as the most appalling of visitations, and would 
see in it only utter extinction of all enjoyment. The 
lower animals, then, whose whole being is composed 
of the inferior propensities, and several knoicing facul 
ties, would see death, if they could at all anticipate it, 
only in this light. So tremendously fearful would it 
appear to them, as the extinguisher of every pleasure 
which they had ever felt or could conceive, that we may 
safely predicate, that the bare prospect of it would ren- 
der their lives wretched, and that nothing could com- 
pensate the agonies of terror, with which an habitual 
consciousness of it would inspire them. But, by de- 
priving them of reflectitig organs, the Creator has 
kindly and effectually preserved them from the influence 
of this evil. He has thereby rendered them completely 
blind to its existence There is not the least reason 
to believe, that any one of the lower animals, while in 
health and vigour, has the slightest conception that it 
is a mortal creature, any more than a tree has that it 
will die. In consequence, it lives in as full enjoyment 
of the present, as if it were assured of every agree- 
able sensation being eternal. Death always takes the 
individual by surprise, whether it comes in the form of 
violence, suppressing life in youth, or of slow decay by 
age ; therefore, it really operates in their case as a 
transference of existence from one being to another, 
without consciousnesss of the loss in the one which 
dies. Let us, however, trace the operations of death, 
in regard to the lower animals, a little more in detaiL 

It 'will not be disputed, that the world is calculated 
to contain and support only a definite number of living 
creatures, that the lower animals have received from 
nature powers of reproduction far beyond what is ne- 
cessary to supply the waste of life by natural decay, 
and that they do not possess intellect sufficient to re- 
strain their numbers within the limits of their means of 
subsistence. Here, therefore, is an institution in which 

■ destruction of life, to a great extent, is necessarily iirt- 
plied. Philosophy cannot tell why death was insti 

i tutod at first, but, according to the views maintained m 



36 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



this Essay, we should expect to find it connected with, 
and reo-iilated bv, benevolence and justice ; that is to 
say, that it should not be inflicted for the sole purpose 
of extinguishing the life of individuals, to their damage, 
withoutliny other result ; but that the general system 
under which it takes place should be, on the whole, 
favourable to the enjoyment of the race ; and this ac- 
cordingly is the fact. Violent death, and the devour- 
ing of one animal by another, are not purely benevolent 
because pure benevolence would- never inflict pain ; but 
they are instances of destruction guided by benevo- 
lence ; that is, wherever death proceeds under the in- 
stitutions of nature, it is accompanied with enjoyment 
or beneficial consequences to one set of animals or ano- 
ther. Herbivorous animals are exceedingly prolific, 
yet the supply of vegetable food is limited. Hence, 
after multiplying for a few years, extensive starvation, 
the most painful and lingering of all deaths, and the 
most detrimental to the race, would inevitably ensue ; 
but carnivorous animals have been instituted who kill 
and eat them ; and by this means not only do carnivo- 
rous animals reap the pleasures of life, but the numbers 
of the herbivorous are restrained within such limits, that 
the individuals among them enjoy existence while they 
live. The destroyers, agam, are limited in their turn : 
The moment they become too numerous, and carry 
their devastations too far their food fails them, and, in 
their conflicts for the supplies that remam, they ex- 
tinguish each other, or die of starvation. Nature seems 
averse from inflicting death extensively by starvation, 
probably because it impairs the constitution long before 
it extinguishes life; and has the tendency to produce 
degeneracy in the race. It may be remarked, also, 
speculatively, that herbivorous animals must have ex- 
isted in considerable numbers before the carnivorous 
began to exercise their functions ; for many of the 
former must die, that one of the latter may live ; . if a 
single sheep and a single tiger had been placed to- 
gether at first, the tiger would have eaten up the sheep 
at a few meals, and died itself of starvation, in a brief 
spaed afterwards. In natural decay, the organs are 
worn out by mere age, and the animal sinks into gra- 
dual insensibility, unconscious that dissolution awaits 
it. Further, the wolf, the tiger, the lion, and other 
beasts of prey, instituted by the Creator as instruments 
of violent death, are provided, in addition to Destruc- 
tiveness, with large organs of Cautiousness and Se- 
cretiveness, that prompt them to steal upon their 
victims with the unexpected suddenness of a mandate 
of annihilation, and they are impelled also to inflict 
death in the most instantaneous and least painful me- 
thod-, the tiger and lion spring from their covert with 
the rapidity of the thunderbolt, and one blow of their 
tremendous paws, inflicted at the junction of the head 
with the neck, produces instantaneous death. The 
eagle is taught to strike its sharp beak into the spine of 
the birds which it devours, and their agony endures 
scarcely for an instant. It has been objected, that the 
cat plays with the unhappy mouse, and prolongs its tor- 
tures ; but the cat that does so, is the pampered and 
well fed inhabitant of a kitchen ; the cat of nature is 
too eager to devour, to indulge in such luxurious gra- 
tifications of Destructiveness and Secretiveness. It 
kills in a moment, and eats. Here, then, is actually a 
regularly organized process for withdrawing individuals 
of the lower animals from existence, almost by a fiat 
of destruction, and thereby making way for a succes- 
sion of other occupants. 

Man is not so merciful towards the lower creatures : 
but he might be so. Suppose the sheep in the hands of 
man, were to be guillotined, and not maltreated before its 
execution, the creature would never know that it bad 
?eased to live. And, by the law which I have already ex- 
plained, man does not with impunity add one unnecessa- 
ry pang to the death of the lower animals. In the brutal 
'lutcher who inflicts torments onralves,sheep,ajid cattle, 



while driving them to the slaughter, and who puts them hD 
death in the way supposed to be the most conducive to 
the gratification of his Acquisitiveness, such as bleed- 
ing them to death, by successive stages, prolonged for 
days, to whiten their flesh, — the animal faculties of De- 
structiveness, Acquisitiveness, Self-esteem, &c. pre- 
dominate so decidedly in activity, over the moral and 
intellectual powers, that he is necessarily excluded 
from all the enjoyments attendant on the supreniacy of 
the human faculties ; he besides, goes into society un- 
der the influence of the .same base combination, and 
suffers at every hand animal retaliation, so that he does 
not escape with impunity for his outrages against the 
moral law. Here, then, we can perceive nothing 
malevolent in the institution of death, in so far as re- 
gards the lower animals. A pang certainly does at- 
tend it ; but while Destructiveness must be recogniz- 
ed in the pain, Benevolence is equally perceptible iu 
its effects. 

I mentioned formerly, that the organic law rises 
above the physical, and the moral and intellectual law- 
above the organic ; and the present occasion affords an 
additional illustration of this fact. Under the physical 
law, no remedial process is instituted to arrest, or re- 
store, against the consequences of infringement. If a 
mirror- falls, and is^smashed, by the physical law it ro 
mains ever after in fragments ; if a ship sinks, it lies 
still at the bottom of the ocean, chained down by the 
law of gravitation. Under the organic law, on tho 
other hand, a distinct remedial process is established. 
If a tree is blown over, every root that remains in the 
ground will double its exertions to preserve life ; if a 
branch is lopped off', new branches will shoot out in its 
place ; if a leg in an animal is broken, the bone will 
reunite ; if a muscle is severed, it will grow together; 
if an artery is obliterated, the neighbouring arteries will 
enlarge their dimensions, and perforin its functions. 
The Creator, however, not to encourage animals to 
abuse this benevolent institution, has established pain 
as an attendant on infringement of the organic law, an-1 
made them suffer for the violation of it, even while he 
restores them. It is under this law that death has re- 
ceived its organic pangs. Instant death is not attended 
with pain of any perceptible duration ; and it is only 
when a hngering, death occurs in youth and middle age, 
that the suffering is severe ; dissolution, however, does 
not occur at these periods as a direct and intentional re- 
sult of the organic laws, but as the consequence of in- 
fringement of them under the fair and legitimate opera- 
tion of these laws, the individual whose constitution 
was at first sound, and whose life has been in accord- 
ance with their dictates, lives till old age fairly wears 
out his organized frame, and then the pang of expira- 
tion is httle perceptible. ■*■ The pains of premature 
death, then, are the punishments of infringement of the 
organic law, and the object of that chastisement pro- 
bably is to impress upon us the necessity of obeying 
them that we may live, and to prevent our abusing the 
remedial process inherent to a great extent in our con- 
stitution. 

Let us now view death as an institution appointed 
to man. If it be true, that the organic constitution of 
man, when sound in its elements, and preserved in ac- 
* The following table is copied trom an interesting article by 
Mr William Fraser, on the History and Constitution of Benefit 
01- Friendly Societies, published in the Edinbin-gh New Philoso- 
phical Journal for October, 18^7, and is deduce'd from Returns 
by Friendly Societies in Scotland for various years, from 1750 to 
1821. It shows hovv much sickness is dependant on age. 
Average Sickness for each Individual. 
.^ Weeks and Weeks. Days. Hours, Proportion oj 

=^" Decimals. sick rnenibeia 

Under 20 0.3797 2 16 1 in 130.95 

20-30 0.O916 4 3 1" 87.83 

30-40 0.6865 4 19 1 " 75.74 

40-30 1.0^73 1 4 1" 50.61 

50-60 1.8806 ^ 6 3 1 " 27.6t 

60-70 5.6337 5 4 10 1 " &.23 

Above 70 16.5417 16 3 19 1 " S.i4 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



37 



cordance with the organic laws, is fairly calculated to 
endure in health from infancy to old age, and that death 
when it' occurs during the early or middle periods of life, 
is the consequence of departures from the physical and or- 
ganic laws, it follows, that, even in premature death, a be- 
nevolent principle is discernible. Although the remedial 
process restores animals from moderate injuries, yet 
the very nature of the organic law must place a limit to 
it. If life had been preserved, and health restored, 
after the brain had been blown to atoms, by a bomb 
shell, as effectually as a leg that is broken, and a fin- 
ger that is cut are healed, this would have been an 
actual abrogation of the organic law ; and all the curbs 
which that law imposes on the lower propensities, and 
all the incitements which the observance of it affords 
to the higher sentiments, and intellect, v/ould have been 
lost. The limit, then, is this ; that any departure from 
the law against which restoration is permitted, shall be 
moderate in extent, and shall not involve, to a great 
degree, any organ essential to life, such as the brain, 
the lungs, the stomach, or intestines. The very main- 
tenance of the law, with all its advantages, requires 
that restoration from grievous derangement of these 
organs should not be permitted. When we reflect on 
the hereditary transmission of qualities to children, we 
clearly perceive benevolence to the race in the institu- 
tion, which cuts short the life of an individual in whose 
person essential organs are so deeply diseased by de- 
partures from the organic law, as to be beyond the li- 
mits of the remedial process ; for the extension of the 
punishment of his errors over an innumerable posterity 
is thereby prevented. In premature death, then, we 
see two objects accomplished ; first ; the individual 
sufferer is withdrawn from agonies which could serve 
no beneficial end to himself; he has transgressed the 
limits of recovery, and prolonged life would be pro- 
tracted misery ; secondly ; the race is guaranteed from 
the future transmissions of his disease by hereditary 
descent. 

The disciple of Mr Owen, formerly alluded to, who 
had grievously transgressed the organic law, and suffer- 
ed a punishment of equal intensity, observed, v>'hen in 
the midst of his agony, — ' Philosophers have urged the 
institution of death, as an argument against divine 
goodness, but not one of them could experience, for 
five minutes, the pain which I now endure, without 
looking upon it as a most merciful arrangement. I 
have departed from the natural institutions, and suffer 
the punishment ; but, in death, I see only the Creator's 
benevolent hand, stretched out to terminate my ago- 
nies, when they cease to serve any beneficial end.' On 
this principle, the death of a feeble and sickly child is 
an act of mercy to it. It withdraws a being, in whose 
person the organic laws have been violated, from use- 
less suffering ; cutting short, thereby, also, the trans- 
mission of its imperfections to posterity. If, then, the 
organic institutions which inflict pain and disease as 
punishments for transgressing them, are founded in be- 
nevolence and wisdom ; and, if death, hi the early and 
middle periods of life, is an arrangement for withdraw- 
ing the transgressor from farther suffering, after return 
to obedience is impossible, and protecting the race from 
the consequences of his errors, it also is in itself wise 
and benevolent. 

This, then, leaves us only death in old age as a natu- 
ral and unavoidable institution of the Creator. It will 
not be denied, that, if old persons, when their powers 
of enjoyment are fairly exhausted, and their cup of 
pleasure full, could be removed from this world, as we 
have supposed the lower animals to be, in an instant, 
and without pain or consciousness, to make way for a 
fresh and vigorous oti'spriiig, about to. run the career 
which the old have terminated, there would be no lack 
of benevolence and justice in the arrangement. At 
present, while we live in habitual ignorance and neglect 
of the organic institutions, death probably comes upon 



us with more pain and agony, even in advanced life, 
than might be its legitimate accompaniment, if we 
placed ourselves in accordance with these ; so that we 
are not now in a condition to ascertain the natural 
quantum of pain necessarily attendant on death. Judg- 
ing from analogy, we may conclude, that the close of a 
long hfe, founded at first, and afterwards spent, in ac- 
cordance with the Creator's laws, would not be accom- 
panied with great organic suffering, but that an insen- 
sible decay would steal upon the senses. Be this, 
however, as it may, I observe, in the next place, that as 
the Creator has bestowe'l on man animal faculties that 
fear death, and reason that carries home to him the 
conviction that he must die. it is an interesting inquiry, 
Whether he has provided any natural means of relief, 
from the consequences of this combination of terrors ? 
He has bestovved moral sentimcyits on man, and ar- 
ranged the whole of his existence on the principles of 
their supremacy ; and these, when duly cultivated and 
enlightened, are calculated to withdraw from him the 
terrors of death, in the same manner as unconscious- 
ness of its existence saves the lower animals from its 
horrors. 

In regard to the lower animals killed by violence, if 
reason sees, on the one hand, a momentary pang in 
parting with hfe, it perceives the continued existence 
and enjoyment of beasts of prey, as an advantage at- 
tending it on the other, so that every animal that is de- 
voured ministers to the continued life of another. 
The process is still one of a transfer of existence. 

In regard to man, again, the moral sentiments and 
intellect perceive. 

1st. That Amativeness, Philoprogenitiveness, and 
Adhesiveness, are provided with direct objects of grati- 
fication, in consequence of the institution of death. If 
the same individuals had lived here for ever, there would 
have been no field for the enjoyment that flows from 
the domestic union, and the rearing of offspring. The 
very institution of these propensities prove, that pro- 
ducing and rearing young, form part of the design of 
creation ; and the successive production of young ap- 
pears necessarily to imply removal of the old. 

2dly. All the other faculties would have been limited 
in their gratifications. Conceive, for a-moment, how 
much exercise is afforded to our intellectual and moral 
powers, hi acquiring knowledge, communicating it to 
the young, and in providing for their enjoyments ; also, 
what a delightful exercise of the higher sentiments is 
implied in the intercourse betwcon the aged and the 
young ; all which pleasures would have been unknown, 
if there had been no young in existence, which there 
could not have been, without a succession of individuals. 

3dly. Constituted as man is, the succession of indi- 
vidual withdraws beings whose pliysical and mental 
constitutions liave run their course, and become im- 
paired in sensibility, and substitutes, in their place, fresh 
and vigorous minds and bodies, far better adapted for 
the enjoyment of creation. 

4thly. If I am right in the position, that the organic 
laws transmit, in an increasing ratio, the qualities most 
active in the parents to their offspring, the law of suc- 
cession provides for a far higher degree of improve- 
ment in the race than could ever have been reached by 
the permanency of a single generation. 

Let us inquire, then, how the moral sentiments are 
affected by death in old age, as a natural institution. 

Benevolence, glowing with a disinterested desire for 
the diffusion and boundless increase of enjoyment, ut- 
ters no complaint against death in old age, as a trans- 
ference of existence from a being impaired in its capa- 
city for usefulness and pleasure, to one fresh and vigor- 
ous in all its powers, and fitted to carry forward, to a 
hio-her point of improvement, every beneficial measure 
previously begun. Conscientiousness, if thoroughly- 
enlightened, perceives no infringement of justice in a 
guest, satiated ^with enjoyment, being called un to re- 



38 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN, 



tire from the banquet, to permit a stranger with a keener 
and more youthful appetite to partake ; and Veneration, 
when instructed by intellect that this is the institution 
of the Creator, and made acquainted with its objects, 
bows in humble acquiescence to the law. Now, if 
these powers have acquired, in any individual, that com- 
plete supremacy which they are clearly intended to 
hold, he will be placed by them as much above the ter- 
ror of death, as a natural institution, as the lower ani- 
mals are, by being ignorant of its existence. And un- 
less the case were so, man would, by the very know- 
ledge of death, be rendered, during his whole life, more 
miserable than they. 

In 'these observations, I have said nothing of the 
prospects of a future existence as a palliative of the 
avils of dissolution, because I was bound to regard 
death, in the first instance, as the result of the organic 
law, and to treat of it as such. But no one who con- 
siders that the prospects of a life to come, arc directly 
addressed to Veneration, Hope, Benevolence, and In- 
tellect, can fail to perceive tiiat this consolation also is 
clearly founded on the principle, that supremacy in the 
sentiments is intended by the Creator to protect man 
from its terrors. 

The true view of death, then, as a natural institu- 
tion, is, that it is an essential part of the very system 
of organization ; that birth, growing, and arriving at 
maturity, as completely imply decay and death in old 
age, as morning and noon imply evening and night, as 
spring and summer imply harvest, or as the source of a 
river implies a termination of it. Besides, orcjanized 
beings are constituted by the Creator to be the food of 
other organized beings, so that some must die that 
others may live. Man, for instance, cannot live on 
stones, or earth, or water, which are not organized, but 
on vegetable and animal substances ; so that death is as 
much, and as essentially, an iiiherent part of organiza- 
tion as life itself. If vegetables, animals, and men, 
had been destined for a duration like that of the moun- 
tains, — instead of creating a primitive pair of each, 
and endowing these with extensive powers of repro- 
duction, so as to usher into existence young beings to 
grow up to maturity by insensible degrees, we may 
presume, from analogy, that the Creator would have 
furnished the world with its definite compliment of 
living beings, perfect at first in all their parts and func- 
tions, and that these would have remained, like hills, 
without diminution, and without increase. 

To prevent, then, all chance of being misapprehend- 
ed, I repeat, that I do not at all allude to the state of 
the soul or mind, after death, but merely to the disso- 
lution of organized bodies ; that, according to the 
soundest views which I am able to obtain of the natural 
law, pain and death in youth and middle age, in the 
human species, are co7isequences of departure from the 
Creator's laws ; while death in old age, by insensible 
decay, is an essential and apparently indispensable part 
of the system of organized existence ; that this ar- 
rangement admits of the succession of individuals, 
substituting the young and vigorous for the feeble and 
decayed ; that it is directly the means by which organ- 
ized beings live, and indirectly the means by which 
Amativeness, Philoprogenitiveness, and a variety of 
other faculties obtain gratification ; that it admits 
of the race ascending to a great extent in the scale of 
improvement, both in their organic and mental qualities ; 
that the moral sentiments, when supreme in activity, 
and enlightened by intellect, so as to perceive its 
design and consequences, are calculated to place man 
in harmony with it ; while religion addresses its con- 
solation to the same faculties, and completes what rea- 
son leaves undone. 

If the views now unfolded be correct, death, in old 
age, will never be abolished, as long as man continues 
an organized being ; but pain and premature death will 
constantly decrease, in the exact ratio of his obedience 



to the physical and organic laws. It is inierestmg to 
observe, that there is already some evidence of this pro- 
cess being actually in progress. About seventv years 
ago, tables of the average duration of life, in England, 
were compiled for the use of the Life Insurance Com 
panics ; and from them it appears, that the average of 
life was then twenty-eight years ; that is. 1.000 persons 
being born, and the years which each of them lived 
being added together, and divided by 1,000, gave 
twenty-eight to each. By recent tables, it appears that 
the average is now thirty-two years to each ; that is to 
say, by superior morality, cleanliness, knov/ledge, and 
general obedience to the Creators institutions, fewer 
individuals now perish in infancy, youth, and nuddle 
age, than did seventy years ago. Some persons have 
said, that the difference arises from errors in compiling 
the old tables, and that the superior habits of the pcojue 
are not the cause. It is probable, however, that th( re 
may be a portion of truth in both views. There may 
be some errors in the old tables, but it is quite natural 
that increasing knowledge and stricter obedience to the 
organic laws, should diminish the number of premature 
■deaths. If this idea be correct, the average duration of 
life should go on increasing; and our successors, two 
centuries hence, may probably attain to an average of 
forty years, and then ascribe to errors in our tables our 
low average of thirty-two.* 

SECT. III. Cj^LAMITIES J^EISING FROM INFRINGEMENT 

OF THE MOliAL LAW. 

We come now to consider the Moral Law, which 
is proclaimed by the higher sentiments and intellect act- 
ing haniioniously, and holding the animal propensities 
in subjection. In surveying the moral and religious 
codes of difi'erent nations, and the moral and religious 
opinions of dilferent philosophers, every reflecting mind 
must have been struck with their diversity. Phreno- 
logy, by demonstrating the difl'erences of combination 
in their faculties, enables us to account for these varie- 
ties of sentiment. The code of morality framed by a 
legislator, in whom Destructiveness. Secretiveness, 
Acquisitiveness, and Self-esteem were large, and Con- 
scientiousness, Benevolence, and Veneration small, 
would be very dilierent from one instituted by anothei 
lawgiver, in whom this combination was reversed. In 
like manner, a system of religion, founded by an indi- 
vidual, in whom DestiTictiveness. Wonder, and Cau- 
tiousness were very large and Veneration, Benevolence, 
and Conscientiousness deficient, would present views 
of the Supreme Being widely dissimilar to those which 
would be promulgated by a person in whom the last 
three faculties and intellect decidedly predominated. 
Phrenology shows, that the particular code of morality 
and religion, winch is most complelely in harmony wifh 
the whole faculties of the individual, will necessarily 
appear to him to be the best, while he refers only ti) 
the dictates of his -individual mind, as the standard of 
right a7id wrong. But if we are able to show, that tne 
ivkole scheme of external creation is arranged in 
harmony with certain ■prmcijilcs, in preference to others, 
so that enjoyment flows upon the individual from with- 
out, when his conduct is in conformity with them, and 
that evil overtakes him when he departs from them, we 
shall then obviously prove, that the former is the mo- 
rality and religion established by the Creator ; andihat 
individual men who support dilferent codes, must 
necessarily be deluded by imperfections in their own 
minds. That constitution of mind, also, may be pro- 
nounced to be the bestr, which harmonizes most 
completely with the morality and religion establish- 
ed by the Creator's arrangements. In this view, mo- 
rality becomes a science, and departures from its dic- 

+ Whili" the above paragraph was in the press, an IntereFting 
ariirle on the ' Diiriinislietl Mortality in Kn-rUiiiil,' appeared \n 
the Scotsman newsjiiiper of I61I1 April, I8.18. ]t coir.ciiles with 
the vii'ws ol' the text ; and. as 't proceeds on scientific data, it is 
printed in the Appendix, Ko. ill. 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



39 



tates may be demonstrated as practical follies, injuri- 
ous to the real interest and happiness of the individual, 
just as errors in logic aie capable of refutation to the 
under .standing. Before we can be in a condition to 
perceive this, it is obvious that we must know, first, 
The nature of man, physical, animal, moral and intel- 
lectual ; seconiily, The relations of the different parts 
of that nature to each other ; and, Thirdly, the relation- 
ship of the whole to God and external objects. The 
present Essay is an attempt, (a very feeble and imper- 
fect one indeed,) to arrive, by the aid of phrenology, at 
a demonstration of morality as a science. The interests 
dealt with in the investigation are so elevating, and the 
elibrt itself so delightful, that the attempt carries its 
own reward, however unsuccessful in its results. 

Assuming, then, that, among the faculties of the 
mind, the higher sentiments and intellect hold the na- 
tural supremacy, I shall endeavour to show, that obe- 
dience to the dictates of these powers is rewarded with 
pleasing emotions in the mental faculties themselves, 
and with the most beneficial external consequences ; 
whereas disobedience is followed by deprivation of these 
emotions, by painful feelings within the mmd, andgreal 
external evil. 

First. Obedience is attended by pleasing emotions in 
the faculties. It is scarcely necessary to dwell on the 
circumstance, that every propensity, sentiment, and in- 
tellectual faculty, when gratified in harmony with all 
the rest, is a fountain of pleasure. How many exqui- 
site thrills of joy arise from Philoprogenitiveness, Ad- 
hesiveness, Acquisitiveness, Constructiveness, Love of 
Approbation, and Self-esteem, \yhen gratified in accord- 
ance with the moral sentiments ; who that has ever 
poured forth the aspirations of Hope, Ideality, Wonder, 
and Veneration, directed to an object in whom Intel- 
lect and Conscientiousness also rejoiced, has not exjje- 
rienced the deep delight of such an exercise ] Or, 
who is a stranger to the grateful pleasures attending an 
active Benevolence 1 Turning to the intellect, again, 
what pleasures are afforded by the scenery of nature, 
by painting, poetry, and music, to those who possess 
the combination of faculties related to these studies'? 
And how rich a feast does not philosophy yield to those 
who possess high reflecting organs, combined with Con- 
centrativeness and Conscientiousness 1 The reader is 
requested, therefore, to keep steadily in view, that these 
exquisite rewards are attached by the Creator to the 
active exercise of our faculties, in accordance with the 
moral law ; and that one punishment, clear, obvious, 
and undeniable, inflicted on those who neglect or in- 
fringe the law, is deprivation of these pleasures. This 
is a consideration very little attended to ; because man- 
kind, in general, live in such habitual neglect of the 
moral law, that they have, to a very partial extent, ex- 
perienced its rewards, and do not know the enjoyment 
they are deprived of by its infringement. Before its 
full measure can be judged of, the mind must be in- 
structed in its own constitution, in that of external ob- 
jects, and in the relationship established between it and 
them,' and between it and the Creator. Until a tolera- 
bly distinct perception of these truths is obtained, the 
faculties cannot enjoy repose, nor act in full vigour or 
harmony : while, for example, our forefathers regarded 
the marsh fevers, to which they were subjected, from 
deficient draining of their fields, and the outrages on 
person and property, attendant on the wars waged by 
the English against the Scots, or by one feudal lord 
against another, even on their own soil, not as punish- 
ments for particular infringements of the organic and 
moral laws, to be removed by obedience to these laws, 
but as inscrutable dispensations of God's providence, 
which it behooved them meekly to endure, but not to 
avert, — so long as such notions were entertained, the 
full enjoyment which the moral and intellectual facul- 
ties were fairly calculated by the Creator to atibrd, could 
not be experienced. Benevolence would pine in dis- 



satisfactiori ; Veneration would flag in its devotions, 
and Conscientiousness would suggest endless surmises 
of disorder and injustice in a scheme of creation, under 
which such evils occurred, and were left without a re- 
medy ; the full tide of moral, rehgious, and intellectual 
enjoyment could not possibly flow, until views, more in 
accordance with the constitution and desires of the 
moral faculties were obtained. The same evil afflicts 
mankind still to a prodigious extent. How is it possi- 
ble for the Hindoo, Mussulman, Chinese, or the native 
American, while they continue to worship deities, whose 
qualities outrage Benevolence, Veneration, and Con- 
scientiousness, — and remain in profound ignorance of 
almost all the Creator's natural institutions, in conse- 
quence of infringing which they sufi'er punishment with- 
out ceasing, to form even a conception of the gratifi- 
cations which the moral and intellectual nature of man 
is calculated to enjoy, when exercised in harmony with 
the Creator's real character and institutions ! This 
operation of the moral is not the less real, because 
many do not recognise it. Sight is not a less excel- 
lent gift to those who see, because some men bom 
blind have no conception of the extent of pleasure and 
advantage from which the want of it cuts them off. 

The qualities manifested by the Creator may be in- 
ferred from the works of creation ; but it is obvious, 
that, to arrive at the soundest views, we would require 
to know his institutions thoroughly. To a grossly ig- 
norant people, who sufi'er hardly from transgression ol 
his lav/s, the Deity will appear infinitely more severe 
and mysterious than to an enlightened nation who knov* 
them, avoid the penalties of infringement, and trace the 
principles of his government through many parts of his 
vv'orks. The character of the Divine Being, under the 
natural system, will thus go on rising in exact propor- 
tion as his works shall be understood. The low and 
miserable conceptions of God formed by the vulgar 
Greeks and Romans, were the reflections of their own 
ignorance of natural, moral, and political science. The 
discovery and improvement of phrenology must neces- 
sarily have a great effect on natural religion. Before 
phrenology was known, the moral and intellectual con- 
stitution of man was unascertained ; — in consequence, 
the relations of external nature towards it could not be 
competently judged of; and, while these v/ere involved 
in obscurity, many of the ways of Providence must 
have appeared mysterious and severe, which in them- 
selves are quite the reverse. Again, as bodily suffer- 
ing and mental perplexity would bear a proportion to 
this ignorance, :he character of God would appear to 
the natural eye in that condition, much more unfavora- 
ble than it will do after these clouds of darkness shall 
have passed away. 

Some persons, in their great concernment about a 
future hfe, are liable to overlook the practical direction 
of the mind in the present. V^'hen we consider the 
nature and objects of the mental faculties, we perceive 
that a great number of them have the mosi, obvious and 
undeniable reference to this life ; for example, Amative- 
ness, Philoprogenitiveness, Combativeness, Destruc- 
tiveness, Acquisitiveness, Secretiveness, Cautiousness, 
Self-esteem, and Love of Approbation, with Size, 
Form, Colour, Weight, Tune, Wit, and probably other 
faculties, stand in such evident relationship to this par- 
ticular world, with its moral' and physical arrangements, 
that if they were not capable of legitimate application 
here, it would' be difficult to assign a reason for their 
being bestowed on us. We possess also Benevolence, 
Veneration, Hope, Ideality, Wonder, Conscientious- 
ness, and Reflecting Intellect, all of which apjear to 
be particularly adapted to a higher sphere. But the 
important consideration is, that here on earth these two 
sets of faculties are combined ; and on the same prin- 
ciple that led Sir Isaac Newton to infer the combusti- 
bility of the diamond, I am disposed to expect that the 
external world, when its cons'itutioii and relations shall 



40 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN, 



be sufficiently understood, will be found to be in har- 
monv with all our faculties, and of course that the cha- 
racter of the Deity, as unfolded by the works of crea- 
tion, will more and more gratify our moral and intel- 
lectual powers, in proportion as knowledge advances. 
The structure of the eye is admirably adapted to the 
la\%s of lia;ht ; that of the ear to the laws of sound ; 
that of the muscles to the laws of gravitation ; and it 
would be strange if our mental constitution was not 
as wisely adapted to the general order of the external 
world. 

This principle, then, is universal, and admits of no 
exception, That inactivity and want of power, in every 
faculty, is attended with deprivation of the pleasures at- 
tendant on its vivacious exercise. He who is so defi- 
cient in Tune that he cannot distinguish melody, is cut 
off from a vast source of gratification enjoyed by him 
who possesses that organ vigorous and highly cultivated ; 
and tlie same principle holds m the case of every other 
organ and faculty. Criminals and profligates of every 
description, therefore, from the very constitution of 
human nature, are excluded from great enjoyments at- 
tending virtue ; and this is the first natural punishment 
to wliich they are inevitably liable. Persons also, who 
are igijorant of the constitutions of therr own minds, 
and the relations between external objects, not only 
suffer many direct evils on this account ; but, tlu'ough, 
the consequent inactivity of their faculties, are besides, 
deprived of many exalted enjoyments. The works of 
creation, and the character of the Deity, are the legiti- 
mate objects of our highest powers ; and hence he who 
is, blind to their qualities loses nearly the whole benefit 
of his moral and intellectual existence. If there is any 
one to \vhom these gratifications are unknown, or ap- 
pear trivial, he must either, to a very considerable de- 
gree, be still under the dominion of the animal propensi- 
ties, or his views of the Creator's character and institu- 
tions, must not be in harmony with the natural dic- 
tates of the moral sentiments and intellect. 

But in the second place, as the world is arranged 
on the principle of the supremacy of the moral senti- 
ments and intellect, observance of the moral law is at- 
tended with external advantages, and infringement of 
it with positive evil consequences ; and, from this con- 
stitution, arises the second natural punishment of mis- 
conduct. 

Let us trace the advantages of obedience. — In the 
domestic circle ; if we preserve habitually Benevolence, 
Conscientiousness, Veneration, and Intellect supreme, 
it is quite undeniable, that we shall raise the moral and 
intellectual faculties of children, servants, and assist- 
ants, to love us, and to yield us willing service, obe- 
dience, and aid. Our commands will then be reason- 
able, mild, and easily executed, and the commerce will 
be that of love. With om- equals, agam, in society, 
what would we not give for a friend in whom we were 
perfectly convinced of the supremacy of the sentiments : 
what love, confidence, and delight, would we not repose 
in him I To a merchant, physician, lawyer, magis- 
trate, or an individual in any public employment, how in- 
valuable would be the habitual supremacy of the sen- 
timents 1 The Creator has given different talents to 
different individuals, and limited our powers, so that 
we execute any work best by confining our attention to 
one department of labour, — an arrangement which 
amounts to a direct institution of separate trades and pro- 
fessions. Under the natural laws, then, the manufac- 
turer may pursue his calling with the entire approbation 
of all the moral sentiments, for he is dedicating his 
talents to supply the wants of his fellow men ; and how 
CDxich more successful will he not be, if his every wish is 
accompanied by the desire to act benevolently and hon- 
estly towards those who are to consume and pay for the 
products of his labour 1 He cannot gratify his Acquisi- 
tiveness half so successfully by any other method. The 
same remark applies to the merchant, the lawyer, and 



physician. The lawyer and physician, whose whole 
spirits breathe a disinterested desire to consult, as a 
paramount object,- the best interests of their chents and 
patients, not only obtain the direct reward of gratifying 
their own moral faculties, which is no slight enjoyment, 
but they reap a positive gratification to their Self-es- 
teem and Love of Approbation, in a high and well-foun- 
ded reputation, and to their Acquisitiveness, in inc-reas- 
ing emolument, not grudgingly paid, but willingly offer- 
ed, from minds that feel the worth of the services be- 
stowed. 

There are three conditions required by the moral and 
intellectual law, which must all be observed to ensure 
its rewards ; 1st. The department of industry selected 
must be really useful to human beings : Benevolence 
demands this ; 2dly. The quantum of labor bestowed 
must bear a just proportion to the natural demand for 
the commodity produced : Intellect requires this ; and, 
3dly. In our social connexions, we must imperatively 
attend to the organic law, that different individuals pos- 
sess different developments of the brain, and in conse 
quence different natural talents and dispositions, and 
we must rely on each only to the extent warranted by 
his natural endowment. 

If, then, an individual has received, at birth, a sound 
organic constitution, and favourably developed brain, 
and if he live in accordance with the physical, the or- 
ganic, the moral, and intellectual laws, it appears to me 
that, in the constitution of the world, he has received an 
assurance from the Creator, of provision for his aninial 
wants, and a high enjoyment in the legitimate exercise 
of his various mental powers'. 

I have already observed, that, before we can obey the 
Creator's institutions, we must know them, and that the 
science which teaches the physical laws, is natural 
philosophy ; that the organic laws belong to the depart 
ment of anatomy and physiology ; and 1 now add, that 
it is the business of the political economist to unfold 
the kinds of industry that are really necessary to the 
welfare of mankind, and the degrees of labour that will 
meet with a just reward. I'he leading object of politi- 
cal economy, as a science, is to increase enjoyment, by 
directing the application of industry. To attain this end 
however, it is obviously necessary that the nature of 
man, — the constitution of the physical world, — and the 
relations between these, should be known. Hitherto, 
the knowledge of the first of these elementary parts has 
been very deficient, and, in consequence, the whole su- 
perstructure has been weak and unproductive, in com- 
parison of what it may become, when founded on a 
more perfect basis. Political economists have never 
dreamt, that the world is arranged on the principle of 
supremacy of the moral sentiments and intellect ; and,' 
consequently, that, to render man happy, his leading' 
■pursuits must be such as ivill exercise and gratify these 
powers, and that his life will necessarily be miserable, 
if devoted entirely to the production of wealth. They 
have proceeded on the notion, that the accumulation of 
wealth is the summum honum ; but all history teaches, 
that national happiness does not increase in proportion 
to national riches ; and until they shall perceive and 
teach, that intelligence and morality are the foundation 
of all lasting prosperitv, they will never interest tha 
great body of mankind, nor give a valuable direction to 
their etibrt^. 

If the views contained in the present Essay be sound, 
it will become a leading object with future masters in 
that science, to demonstrate the necessity of civilized 
man limiting his physical, and increasing his moral and 
intellectual occupations, as the only means of saving 
himself from ceaseless punishment under the natural 
laws. 

The idea of men, in general, being taught natural 
philosophy, anatomy, and physiology, political economy, 
and the other sciences that expound the natural laws, 
has been sneered at, as utterly absurd and ridiculous. 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



'll 



But I would ask, in what occupations are human be- 
ings so urgently engaged, that they have no leisure to. 
bestow on the study of the Creator's laws ! A course 
of natural phllo^sOJ)hy would occupy sixty or seventy 
hours in the delivery ; a course of anatomy and physi- 
ology I he same ; and a course of phrenology can he de- 
livered pretty fully in forty hours! These, twice or 
thrice repeated, would serve to initiate the student so 
that he could afterwards advance m the same paths, by 
the aid of observation and books. Is life, then, so 
brief, and are our hours so urgently occupied by higher 
and more important duties, that we cannot afford those 
pittances of tune to learn the laws that regulate our 
existence I No. Tl-ve only difficulty is in obtaining 
the desire for the knowledge ; m seemg the necessity 
and advantage of it, and then time will not be wanting. 
No idea can be more preposterous, than that of hunian 
beings having no time to study and obey the natural 
institutions. These laws punish so severely, when ne- 
glected, that they cause the offender to lose tenfold 
more time in undergoing his chastisement, than would 
be requisite to obey them. A gentleman extensively 
engaged m business, whose nervous and digestive sys- 
tems had been impaired by neglect of the organic 
laws, was desired to walk in the open air at least one 
hour a-day ; to repose from all exertion, bodily and 
mental, for one fuil hour after breakfast, and another 
full hour after dinner, because the brain cannot expend 
its energy in thinking and in aiding digestion at the 
same time ; and to practise moderation in diet ; which 
last he regularly observed ; but he laughed at the very 
idea of his having three hours a-day to spare for atten- 
tion to his health. The reply was, that the organic 
laws admit of no exception, and that he must either 
obey them, or take the consequences ; but that the, 
time lost by the punishment would be double or treble 
that requisite for obedience ; and, accordingly, the fact 
was so. Instead of his attending an appointment, it is 
quite usual for him to send a note, perhaps, at two in 
the afternoon, in these terms : — ' I was so distressed 
with headache last night, that I never closed my eyes, 
and to-day I am still incapable of being out of bed.' 
On other occasions, he is out of bed, but apologizes 
for inc:;pacity to attend to business, on account of an 
intolerable pain in the region of the stomach. In short, 
if the hours lost in these pamful sufferings were added 
together, and distributed over the days when he is able 
for duty, he would find them far outnumber those which 
would suffice for obedience to the organic laws, and 
with this difference in the results ; by neglect he loses 
both his hours and his enjoyment ; whereas, by obedi- 
ence, he would be rewarded by aptitude for business, 
and a pleasing consciousness of existence. 

We shall understand the operation of the moral and 
intellectual laws, however, more completely, by attend- 
ing to the evds which arise from neglect of them. 

As to Individuals. At present, the almost univer- 
sal persuasion of civilized man, is, that happiness con- 
sists in the possession of wealth, power, and external 
splendor; objects related to the animal faculties and 
intellect much more than to the moral sentiments. In 
consequence, each individual sets out in the pursuit of 
these as the chief business of his life ; and, in the ardour 
of the chase, he recognizes no limitations on the means 
•which he may employ, except those imposed by the 
municipal law. He does not perceive or acknowledge 
the existence of natural laws, determining not only the 
sources of his happiness, but the steps by which it may 
be at'anied. From this moral and intellectual blind- 
ness, merchants and manufacturers, in numberless in- 
stances, hasten to be rich beyond the course of nature ; 
that is to say, they engage in enterprises far exceeding 
the extent of their capital, or capacity ; they place their 
property in the hands of debtors, whose natural talents 
and morality are so low, that they ought never to have 
been trusted with a shillinp- ; they send their goods to 



sea without insuring them, or leave them uninsured in 
their own warehouses ; they ask pecuniary accommo- 
dation from other merchants to enable them to carry on 
their undue speculations, and become security for them 
in return, and both fall in consequence of blindly fol- 
lowing Acquisitiveness to extremities; or they live in 
splendor and extravagance, far beyond the extent of tho 
natural return of their capital and talents. In every 
one of these instances, the calamity is obviously the 
consequence of infringement of the moral and intellec- 
tual law. The lawyer, medical practitioner, or proba- 
tioner in the church, who is disa)jpointed in his reward, 
will be found erroneously to have placed himself in a 
profession, for which his natural talents and disposi- 
tions did not fit him, or to have pursued his vocation 
under the guidance chiefly of tlie lower propensities, 
preferring selfishness to honorable regard for the in- 
terests of his employers. Want of success in these 
professions, appears to me to be owing, in a high degree, 
to three causes ; first, The brain being too small, or 
constitutionally lymphatic, so that the mind does not 
act with sufticien1> energy to make an impression ; se- 
condly, some particular organs indispensably requisite 
to success, being very deficient, as Language, rfr Causa- 
lity, in a lawyer, the first rendering him incapable of 
ready utterance, and the second destitute of that intui- 
tive sagacity, which sees at a glance the bearing of the 
facts and principles founded on by his adversary, so as 
to estimate the just inferences that follow, and to point 
them out. A lawyer, who is weak in this power, ap- 
pears to his client like a pilot who does not know the 
shoals and the rocks. His deficiency is perceived- 
whenever difficulty presents itself, and he is pronounced 
unsafe to take charge of great interests ; he is then 
passed by, and suffers the responsibility of an erro- 
neous choice of profession ; or, thirdly. Predominance 
of the animal and selfish faculties. The client and the 
patient discriminate instinctively between the cold, 
pithless, but pretending manner of Acquisitiveness and 
Love of Approbation, and the unpretending, genuine 
warmth of I3enevolence, Veneration, and Conscien- 
tiousness ; and they discover very speedily that the in- 
tellect inspired by the latter sees more clearly, and ma- 
nages more successfully, their interests, than when 
animated only by the former ; the victim of selfishness 
either never rises, or sinks, wondering why his merits 
are neglected. 

In all these instances, the failure of the merchant, 
and the bad success of the lawyer, &c. are the conse- 
quences of having infringed the natural laws ; so that 
the evil they suffer is the punishment for having failed 
in a great duty, not only to society, but to themselves. 
The greatest difficulties, however, present them- 
selves, in tracing the operation of the moral and intel- 
lectual laws, in the wide field of social life. An indi- 
vidual may be iipade to comprehend how, if he commits 
an error, lie should suffer a particular punishment ; but 
when calamity overtakes whole classes of the commu- 
nity, each person absolves himself from all share of the 
blame, and regards himself as simply the victim of ge- 
neral but inscrutable visitation. Let us, then, examine 
briefly tlje Social Law. 

In regarding the human faculties, we perceive that 
numberless gratifications spring from the social state. 
The muscles of a single hidividual could not rear the 
habitations, build the ships, forge the anchors, con- 
struct the machinery, or, in short, produce the count- 
less enjoyments that every where surround us, in conse- 
quence of men being constituted, so as instinctively to 
combine their powers and skill, to obtain a common 
end. Here, then, are prodigious advantages resulting 
directly from the social law ; but, in the next place, 
social intercourse is the means of affording dhect grati- 
fication to a variety of our mental faculties. If we live 
in solitude, the propensities of Amativeness, Philopro- 
genitiveness. Adhesiveness, Love of Approbation, the 



42 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



senliments of Benevolence, Veneration, Conscientious- 
ness, Wonder, Language, and the reflecting faculties, 
•would be deprived, some of them absolutel)', and others 
of them nearly, of all opportunities of gratification. 
The social law, then, is the source of the highest de- 
ligLLia jf onr nature, and its institution indicates the 
greatest benevolence and wisdom towards us, in the 
Creator. 
! Still, however, this law does not suspend or subvert 
the laws instituted for man as an individual. If we 
iinao-ine an individual to go to sea for his own gratifica- 
tion in a ship, the natural laws require that his intellec- 
tual faculties shall be instructed in navigation, also in 
the nature of the coasts and seas which he traverses ; 
that he shall know and avoid the shoals, currents, and 
eddies ; that he shall trim his canvass in proportion to 
the gale ; and that his animal faculties shall be so much 
under subjection to his moral sentiments, that he shall 
not abandon himself to drunkenness, sloth, or any ani- 
mal indulgence, when the natural laws, require him to 
be watchful at his duty. If he obey the natural laws, 
he will be safe as an individual ; and if he disobey 
them he will be drowned.* Now, if a crew, and pas- 
sengers desii-e to avail themselves of the social law, that 
is, to combine their powers and activity under one lea- 
der or chief, by doing which they may sail in a large 
ship, have ample stores of provisions, divide their la- 
bour, enjoy each other's society, &c. ; and if at the 
same time thev fulfil the moral and intellectual laws, 
by placing, in the situation of captain, an individual 
fully qualified for that duty, they will enjoy the reward 
in sailing safely, and in comfort ; if they disregard these 
laws, and place an individual in charge of the ship, 
wh^se intellectual faculties are weak, whose animal 
propensities are strong, whose moral sentiments are in 
abeyance, and v.'ho, in consequence, habitually neglects 
the natural laws, then they will suffer the penalty in 
being wrecked. 

I know it will be objected that the crew and pas- 
sengers do not appoint the captain ; but, in every case, 
except impressment in the British nav'y, they may go 
in, or stay out, of a particular ship, as they discover 
the captain to possess the natural qualities or not. This, 
at present, I am aware, ninety-nine individuals out of the 
nundred never inquire into ; but so do ninety-nine out 
of the hundred neglect many of the other natural laws, 
and sufi^er the penalty, because their moral and intellec- 
tual faculties have never yet been instructed in their 
existence and effects, or trained to observe and obey 
them. But they have the power from nature of obey- 
Jncr them, if properly taught and trained ; and, besides, I 
give this merely as an illustration of the mode of ope- 
ration of the social law. 

Another example may be given. By employing ser- 
vants, the labours of life are rendered less burdensome 
to the master ; but he must employ individuals who 
know the moral law, and who possess the desire to act 
under it ; otherwise, as a punishment for neglecting 
this requisite, he may be robbed, cheated, or murdered 
in bed. Phrenology presents the means of observing 
this law, in a degree quite unattainable without it, by 
the facility which it afl:brds of discovering the natural 
talents and dispositions of individuals. 

By entering into copartnerships, merchants, and 
other persons in business, may extend their employ- 
ment, and gain advantages beyond those they could 
reap, if labouring as individuals. But, by the natural 
law, each must take care that his partner knows, and is 
inclined to obey, the moral and intellectual law, as the 
only condition on which the Creator will permit him 
secureli/ to reap the advantao-es of the social compact. 
If a partner in China is deficient in intellect and moral 
sentiments, another in London may be utterly ruined. 

* I waive at preset)tthe question ofstorms, whicin he oould not 
fores'ee, as tiiesc (all umler'ttie head of ignorance of nauiral 
laws, winch may be subssquently discovered 



It is said that this is the innocent suffering for or along 
with the guilty ; but it is not so. It is an e.\ample of a 
person seeking to obtain the advantao-es of the social 
law, without conceiving himself bound to obey the con- 
ditions required by it ; the first of which is, that those 
individuals, of whose services he avails himself, shall 
observe the moral and intellectual laws. 

Let us now advert to the calamities which overtake 
whole classes of men, or communities, under the so- 
cial law, trace their origin, and see how far they are at- 
tributable to infringement of the Creator's laws. 

If 1 am right in representing the whole faculties ol 
man as intended by the Creator to be gratified, and the 
moral sentiments and intellect, as the higher and di- 
recting powers, with which all natural institutions are 
in harmony ; it follows, that if large communities ol 
men, in their svstematic conduct, habitually seek the 
gratification of the inferior propensities, and allow 
either no part, or too small; and inadequate a part, ol 
their thnc'to the regular employment of the highei 
powers, they will act in direct opposition to the natural 
institutions ; and will, of course, suffer the punishment 
in sorrow and dissapointment. Now, to confine our- 
selves to our own country, it is certain that, until 
within these few years, the labouring population ol 
Britain were not taught that it was any part of their 
duty, as rational creatures, to restrain their propensities, 
so as not to multiply their numbers beyond the demand 
for their labours, and the supply of food for their off- 
spring ; and up to the present hour this most obvious 
and important doctrine is not admitted by one in a 
thousand, and not acted upon as a practical principle 
by one in ten thousand of those whose happiness oi 
misery depends on observance of it. The doctrine ol 
MaUhus, that ' population cannot go on perpetually in- 
creasincr, without pressing on the limits of the means oi 
subsistence, and that a check of some kind or othei 
must, sooner or latter, be opposed to it,' just amounts 
to this, — that the means of subsistence are not sus- 
ceptible of such rapid and unhmited increase as popu- 
lation, and in consequence that the Amative propensity 
must be restrained by reason, otherwise it will be 
checked by misery. This principle is in accordance 
with the views of human nature maintained in this 
Essay, and applies to all the faculties ; thus Philopro- 
genitiveness, when indulged in opposiiion to reason, 
leads to spoiling children, which is followed directly 
by miseiy both to them and their parents. Acquisitive- 
ness, when uncontrolled by reason, leads to avarice ot 
theft, and these again carry suffering in their train. 

But so far from attending to such views, the lives oi 
the inhabitants of Britain generally are devoted to the 
acquisition of wealth, of power and distinction, or ol 
animal pleasure ; in other words, the great object of the 
labouring classes, is to live and gratify the inferior pro- 
pensities ; of the mercantile and manufacturing popula- 
tion, to gratify Acquisitiveness and Self-esteem ; of the 
more intelligent class of gentlemen, to gratify Self- 
esteem and Love of Approbation, in political, literary 
or philosophical eminence ; and of another portion, to 
-•gratify Love of Approbation, by supremacy in fashion ; 
and these gratifications are sought by means not in ac- 
cordance with the dictates of the higher sentiments, 
but by the joint aid of the intellect and proj^ensities. 
If the supremacy of m»oral sentiment and intellect be 
the natural law, then, as often observed, every circum- 
stance connected with human life must be in harmony 
with it ; that is to say, first, After rational restraint on 
population, and with the proper use of machinery, such 
moderate labour as will leave ample thne for the sys- 
tematic exercise of the higher powers, will suffice to 
provide for human wants : and, secondly. If this exer- 
cise be neglected, and the time which ought to be dedi- 
cated to it be employed in labour to gratify the pro- 
pensities, direct evil will ensue ; and this accordingly 
appears to me to be exactly the result. 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



43 



By means of machinery, and the aids derived from 
science, the ground can be cultivated, and every ima- 
ginable necessary and luxury produced in ample abun- 
dance, by a moderate expendittire of labour by any popu- 
lation not in itself superabundant. If men were to 
stop whenever they had reached this point, and dedi- 
cate the residue of each day to moral and intellectual 
pursuits; the consequence would be, ready and steady 
because not overstocked, markets. Labour, pursued 
till it provided abundance, but not redundant superfluity, 
would meet with a certam and just reward : and would 
yield also, a vast increase of happiness ; for no joy 
equals that which springs from the moral sefitiments 
and intellect excited by the contemplation, pursuit, and 
observance, of the Creator's institutions. Farther, 
morality would be improved ; for men being happy, 
would cease to be vicious ; and, lastly. There would 
be improvement in the organic, moral, and intellectual 
capabilities of the race; for the active moral' and intel- 
lectual organs in the parents would increase the volume 
of these m their offspring ; so that each generation 
V'ould start not only with greater stores of acquired 
knowledge than their predecessors possessed, but with 
higher natural capabilities of turning these to account. 

Before merchants and manufacturers can be expect- 
pd to act in this manner, a great change must be ef- 
fected in their sentiments and perceptions ; but so was 
a striking revolution effected in their ideas and prac- 
tices of the tenantry west of Edinburgh, when they 
removed the stagnant pools between each ridge of 
land, and banished ague from their district. It any 
.reader will compare the state of Scotland during the 
thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries, correctly 
and spiritedly represented in Sir Walter Sccrtt's Tales 
of a Cirandfather, with its present condition, in regard 
to knowledge, morahty, religion, and the comparative 
ascendency of the rational over the animal part of our 
nature, he will perceive so great an improvement in 
later times, that the commencement of the millennium 
itself, in five or six hundred years hence, would scarce 
be a greater advance beyond the present, than the 
present is over the past. If the laws of the Creator be 
really what are here represented, and if they were 
once taught as elementary truths to every class of the 
community, and the sentiment of Veneration called in 
to enforce obedience to them, a set of new motives 
and principles would be brought into play, calculated 
to accelerate the change ; especially if it were seen, 
what, in the next place, I proceed to show, that the 
consequences of neglecting these laws are the most 
serious visitations of suG'ering that can well be 
imagined. The labouring population of Britain is taxed 
with exertion for ten, twelve, and some even fourteen 
hours a day, exhausting their muscular and nervous 
energy, so as utterly to incapacitate them, and leaving, 
besides, no leisure ; for moral and intellectual pursuits. 
The consequence of this is, that all markets are over- 
stocked with produce ; prices first fall ruinously low ; 
the operatives are then thrown idle, and left in destitu- 
tion of the necessaries of life, until the surplus pro- 
duce of their formerly excessive labours, and perhaps 
something more, are consumed ; after this takes place, 
prices rise too high in consequence of the supply fal- 
ling rather below the demand ; the labourers resume 
tlieir toil, on their former system of excessive exertion ; 
they again overstock the market, and again are tlu'own 
idle, and suffer dreadful misery. 

In 1825-6-7 we witnessed this operation of the natu- 
ral laws : largo bodies of starving and unemployed la- 
bourers were then supported on charity. How many 
hours did they not stand idle, and how much of exces- 
sive toil would not these hours have relieved, if distri- 
buted over the periods when they v/ere overworked 1 
The results of that excessive exertion were, seen in the 
form of untenanted houses, of shapeless piles of goods 
decaying in warehouses, in ehort, in every form in which 



misapplied industry could go to ruin. Tliese observa- 
tions are strikingly illustrated by the following official 
report, copied from the public newspapers : 

' State of the Unemployed Operatives, resident in Edinburgh, 
who are supplied wiih work by a ConimittPC. constituted lor 
that purpose, according to a list made up on Wednesday, the 
14th March, IS^T. 

'The number of unemployed operatives who have been re. 
mitted by the Commiuee lor work, up to ih? 14th of 
March, are 1 131 

' And the number of cases they hav rejected, after hav- 
ing been particularly investieated, for beiris bad cha- 
racters, friving in (alse statements, or being only a short 
time out of work, &c. &e. are 446 

Making together, ]!527 

' Besides those, several hundred have been rejected by the 

Committee, as, from the applicants's own statements, they were 

not considered as cases entitled to receive relief, and were not, 

therefore, remitted for investigation. 

' The wages allowed is 5s. per week, with a peck of meal 
to those who liave families. Some youths are only allowed 3s. 
of wages. 

' The particular occupations of those sent to W(M'k are as fol- 
lows : — ^42 masons. 634 labourers, 66 joiners, 1!) |]lafterers, 'i6 
sawyers, 19 slater.^, 45 smiths, 40 painters. 36 tailors, 55 shoe 
makers, 20 gardeners. 229 various trades. Total 1481.' 

Edinburgh is not a manufacturing city, and if so much 
misery existed in it in proportion to its population, what 
must have been the condition of Glasgow, Manchester, 
and other manufacturing towns !* 

Here, then, the Creator's laws show themselves par- 
amount, even when men set themselves systematically 
to infringe them. H.e intended the human race, under 
the moral law, not to pursue Acquisitiveness ex(-es- 
sively, but to labour only a certain and a moderate por- 
tion of their lives ; and although they do their utmost 
to defeat this intention, they cannot succeed ; they are 
constrained to remain idle as many days and hours, 
while their surplus produce is consuming, as would 
have served for the due exercise of their moral and in- 
tellectual faculties and the preservation of their health, 
if they had dedicated them regularly to these ends from 
day to day, as time passed over their heads. But their 
punishment proceeds : the extreme exhaustion of ner- 
vous and muscular energy, with the absence of all moral 
and intellectual excitement, create the excessive crav- 
ing for the stimulus of ardent spirits which distinguishes 
the labouring population of the present age ; this calls 
into predominant activity the organs of the Animal Pro- 
pensities, tliese descend to the children by the law al- 
ready explained ; increased crime, and a deteriorating 
population, are the results : and a mora! and intellectual 
incapacity for arresting the evils, becomes greater with 
the lapse of every generation. 

According to the principles of the present Essay, 
what are called by commercial men ' times of prosperity,' 
are seasons of the greatest infringement of the natural 
laws, and precursors of great calamities. Times arc 
not reckoned prosperous, unless all the industrious 
population is employed during the whole day, hours of 
eating and sleeping only excepted, in the production of 
wealth. This is a dedication of their whole fives to 
the service of the propensities, and must necessarily 
terminate in punishment, if the world is constituted on 
the principle of supremacy of the higher powers. 

This truth has already been illustrated more than 
once in the history of commerce. The following is a 
resent example. 

By the combination laws, workmen were punisliable 
for uniting to obtain a rise of wages, when an extraor- 
dinary demand occurred for their labour. These laws 
being obviously unjust, were at length repealed. In 
summer and autumn 1825, however, commercial men 
conceived themselves to have reached the highest point 
of prosperity, and the demand for labour was unlimited. 
The operatives availed themselves of the opportunity to 
better their condition formed extensive combinations ; 
and because their demands were not complied with, 

*In the Appendix, No. IV, several interesting documents aro 
giv«n, in further elucidation of these principles. 



44 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



struck work, and continued idle for months in success 
sion. Tlie master mamiractnrers clamoured against 
the new law, and complained that the country would be 
ruined, if combinations were not again declared illegal, 
and suppressed by force. Accordmg to the principles 
of this Essay, the just law must from the first have 
been the moxt beneficial for all parties affected by it ; 
and the result amply confirmed this idea. Subsequent 
events proved that the extraordinary demand for la- 
bourers hi 1825 was entirely factitious, fostered, by an 
overwhelming issue of bank paper, much of which ulti- 
mately turned out to be worthless ; in short, that, dur- 
ing the combinations, the master manufacturers were 
engaged in an extensive system of speculative over-pro- 
duction, and that the'combinations of the workmen pre- 
sented a natural check to this erroneous proceeding. 
The ruin that overtook the masters in 1826 arose from 
their having accumulated, under the influence of un- 
bridled Acquisitiveness, vast stores of commodities 
which vrere not required. by society : and to have com- 
pelled labourers, by force, to manufacture more at their 
biddmg, would obviously have been to aggravate the 
evil. It is a well known fact, accordingly, that those 
masters whose operatives most resolutely refused to work, 
aild wlio, on this account clamoured loudest against 
the law, were the greatest gamers in the end. Their 
s-tock of goods were sold out at high prices drring the 
speculative period ; and when the revulsion came, in- 
stead of being ruined by the fall of property, they were 
prepared, with their capitals at command, to avail them- 
selves of the depreciation, to make new and highly pro- 
fitable investments. Here again, therefore, we per- 
ceive the law of justice vindicating itself and benefiting 
by its operation even those individuals who blindly de- 
nounced it as injurious to their interests, A practical 
faith in the doctrine that the world is arranged by the 
Creator, in harmony with the moral sentiments and in- 
~ tellcct, would be of unspeakable advantage both to 
rulers and subjects ; for they would then be able to 
pursue with greater confidence the course dictated by 
moral rectitude, convinced that the result would prove 
beneficial, even although, when they took the first step, 
they could not distinctly perceive by what means. 

In the whole system of education and treatment of 
the labouring population, the laws of the Creator such 
' as I have now endeavoured to expound them, are ne- 
glected, and their moral and intellectual cultivation is 
scarcely known. The Schools of Art, and ' the Library 
of Useful Knowledge,' are laudable attempts at a better 
order of things ; and I hail with joy their increase ; but 
they too much exclude the science of hurhan nature, 
and in consequence, will long remain comparatively 
barren. From indications which akeady appear, how- 
ever, I think it probable that the labouring classes will 
ere long recognise Phren.ology, and the natural laws, as 
deeply interesting to themselves ; and whenever their 
minds shall be opened to rational views of their own 
constitution as m.en, and their condition as members 
of society, I venture to predict that they will devote 
themselves to ihiprovement, with a zeal and earnest- 
ness that in a few generations will change the aspect of 
their class. 

The consequences of the present system of departing 
from the moral law, on the middle orders of the commu- 
nity, are in accordance with its effects on the lower. 
Uncertain gains, continual fluctuations in fortune, ab- 
sence of all reliance on moral and intellectual principles 
in their purvraits, a gambling spirit, an insatiable ap- 
petite for wealth, alternately extravagant joys of exces- 
sive prosperity cfrid bitter miseries of disappointed am- 
bition, render the whole lives of merchants vanity and 
vexation of spirit. Nothing is more essential to human 
happiness than fixed principles of action, on which v/e 
can rely for our present safety and future welfare ; and 
the Creator's laws when seen and followed, afibrd this 
support and delight to our faculties in the highest de- 



gree. It is one, -lot of the least, of the punishments 
that overtake the middling classes for neglect of these 
laws, that they do not, as a permanent condition of 
min.d, feel secure and internally at peace with them- 
selves. When the excitement of business has subsided, 
vacuity and craving are felt withhi. These proceed 
from the moral and intellectual faculties calling aloud 
for exercise ; but, through ignorance of their own na- 
ture, fashionable amusements, or intoxicating liquors, 
are resorted to, and, with these, a vain attempt it- made 
to fill up the void of life. I know that this class 
ardently desires a change that would remove the mis- 
eries described, and will zealously co-operate in the 
diffusing of knowledge, by which means alone it can be 
introduced. 

The responsibility which overtakes the higher classes 
is equally obvious. If they do not engage in some ac- 
tive pursuits, so as to give scope to their energies, they 
suffer the evils of ennui, morbid irritability, and exces- 
sive relaxation of the functions of mind and body, which 
carry in their train more suffering than is entailed even 
on the operatives by excessive labour. If they pursue 
ambition in the senate or in thq field, or in literature or 
philosophy, their real success is in exact proportion to 
the approach which they make to observance of the su- 
premacy of the sentiments and intellect. Franklin, 
Washington, and Bolivar, mav be contrasted with She- 
ridan, and Bonaparte, as illustrations. Sheridan and 
Na[)oleon did not, systematically, pursue objects sanc- 
tioned by the higher sentimeijts and intellect as the end 
of their exertions ; and no person, who i-s a judge of 
human emotions, can read their lives, and consider what 
must have passed within their minds, without coming to 
the conclusion, that, even in their most brilliant mo- 
ments of external prosperity, the canker was gnawing 
within, and that there was no moral relish of the present 
or reliance on the future ; but a mingled tumult of in- 
ferior propensities and intellect, carrying with it an habi- 
tual feeling of unsatisfied desires. 

Let us now consider the effect of the moral law on 
NATioisTAL prosperity. 

If the Creator has constituted the world in harmony 
with the dictates of the higher sentimenis, the highest 
prosperity of each particular nation should be thorough- 
ly compatible with that of every other ; that is to say, 
England, by sedulously cultivating her own soil, pur- 
suing her own courses of industry, founding her inter- 
nal institutions and her external relations on the princi- 
ples of Benevolence, Veneration, and Justice, which 
imply abstinence from wars of aggression, from con- 
quest, and from all selfish designs of commercial mo- 
nopoly, would be in the highest condition of prosperity 
and enjoyment that nature would admit of; and every 
step that she deviated from these principles, would carry 
an inevitable punishment along with it. The same 
statement might be made relative to France and every 
other nation. According to this principle, also, the 
Creator should have conferred on each nation some pe- 
culiar advantages of soil, climate, situation, or genius, 
which would enable it to carry on amicable intercourse 
with its fellow states, in a beneficial exchange of the^ 
products peculiar to each ; so that the higher one rose 
in morality, intelligence, and riches, it ought to become 
so much the more estimable and valuable as a neigh- 
bour to all the surrounding states. This is so obvious- 
ly the real constitution of nature, that proof of it is 
superfluous. 

England, however, as a nation, has sot this law at 
absolute defiance. She has led the way in taking the 
propensities as her guides, in founding her laws and inr 
stitutions on;; them, and in following them out in her 
practical conduct. England invented restrictions on 
trade, and carried them to the greatest height ; she con- 
quered colonies, and ruled them in the full spirit of 
selfishness ; she encouraged lotteries, and fostered the 
slave trade, carried paper money and the most avaricious 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN, 



43 



spirit of manufacturing and speculating in commerce to 
their highest pitch ; defended corruption in Parliament, 
distributed churches and seats on the bench of justice, 
on principles purely selfish ; all in direct opposition to 
the supremacy of the moral lav?. If the \yorld had 
been created in harmony with predominance of the ani- 
mal faculties, England should have been a most felici- 

j. tous nation ; but as the reverse is the case, we should 
■'expect a severe national responsibility to flow from 
these de[)artures from the divine institutions ; and grie- 
vous accordingly has been, and, I fear, will be, the 
punishment. 

The principle which regulates national responsibility 
is, that the precise combination of faculties which leads 
to the national transgression, carries in its train the 
punishment. Nations are under the moral and intel- 
lectual law, as well as individuals. ' A carter who half 
stai-ves his horse, and unmercifully beats it, to supply, 
by the stimulous of pain, the vigour that nature intend- 
ed to flow from abundance of food, may be supposed 
to practise this barbarity with impunity in this world, if 
he evade the eye of Mr Martin, and that of the police ; 
but this is not the case. The hand of Providence 
reaches him by a direct punishment : He fails in his 
object, for blows cannot supply the vigour which, by 
the constitution of the horse, flows only from sufficien- 
cy of wholesome food. In his conduct he manifests 
an excessive Combativeness and Destructiveness, with 
deficient Benevolence, Veneration, Justice, and Intel- 
lect, and he cannot reverse this character, by merely 
averting his eyes and his hand from the horse. He 
carries these dispositions into the bosom of his family, 
and in'o the company of his associates, and a variety 
of evil consequences ensue. The delights that spring 
from active moral sentiments and intellectual powers 
are necessarily unknown to him ; and the difference be- 
tween these pleasures, and the sensations attendant on 
his moral and intellectual condition, are as great as be- 
tween the external splendour of a king and the naked 
poverty of a beggar. It is true that he has never felt 
the enjoyment, and does not know the e.\tent of his 
loss ; but still the difference exists ; we see it, and 
know that, as a direct consequerice of this state of mind, 
he is excluded from a very great and exalted pleasure. 
Farther ; his active animal faculties rouse the Com- 
bativeness, Destructiveness, Self-esteem, Secretiveness, 
and Cautiousness, of his wife, children, and associates, 
against him, and they inflict on him animal punishment. 
He, no doubt, goes on to eat, drink, blaspheme, and 
abuse liis horse, day after day, apparently as if Provi- 
dence approved of his conduct ; but he neither feels, 
nor can any one who attends to his condition believe 
him to feel, happy ; he is uneasy, discontented, and 
disliked, — -all which sensations are his punishment, and 
it is fairly owing to his own grossness and ignorance 
that he does not connect it with his offence. Let us 
apply these remarks to nations. England, for instance, 
under the impulses of an excessively strong Acquisi- 
tiveness, Self-esteem, and Destructiveness, for a long 
time protected the slave trade. Now, according to the 
law which I am explaining, during the periods of great- 
est sin in this respect, the same combination of facul- 
ties ought to be found working most vigorously in her 
other institutions, and producing punishment for that 
offence. There ought to be found in these periods a 

■' general spirit of domineering and rapacity in her public 
men, rendering them little mindful of the welfare of the 
people ; injustice and harshness fh her taxations and 
public laws ; and a spirit of aggression and hostility 
towards other nations, provoking retaliation of her in- 
sults. And, accordingly, I have been i-formed, as a 
matter of fact, that, while these measures of injustice 
were publicly patronised by^the government, its ser- 
vants vied with each other in injustice towards it, and 
that its subjects dedicated their talents and enterprise 
towards corrupting its officers, and cheating it of its 



due. Every trader who was liable to excise or cu^itom 
duties, evaded the one-half of them, and felt no dis- 
grace in doing so. A gentleman, who was subject to 
the excise laws fifty years ago, described to me the 
condition of his trade at that time. The excise offi- 
cers, he said, regarded it as an understood matter, 
that at least one-half of the goods manufactured were 
to be smuggled without being charged v^'ith duty ; but 
then, said he, ' they made us pay a moral and pecu- 
niary penalty that was at once galling and debasing. 
We required to ask them to our table at all meals, and 
place them at the head of it in our holiday parties ; 
when they fell into debt, we were obliged to help them 
out of it ; when they moved from one house to another, 
our servants and carts were in requisition to perform 
this office ; and, by way of keeping up discipline upon 
us. and also to make a show of duty, they chose every 
now and then to step in and detect us in a fraud, and 
get us fined ; if we submitted quietly, they told us that 
they would make us amends, by winking at another 
fraud ; and generally did so ; but if our indignation 
rendered passive obedience impossible, and we spoke 
our mind of their character and conduct, they enforced 
the law on us, while they relaxed it on our neighbours ; 
and these being rivals in trade, undersold us in the 
market, carried away our customers, and ruined our 
business. Nor did the bondage end here. We could 
not smuggle without the aid of our servants ; and as 
they could, on occasion of any offence given to them- 
selves, carry information to the head quarters of excise, 
we were slaves to them also, and were obliged tamely 
to submit to a degree of drunkenness and insolence, 
that appears to me now perfectly intolerable. Farther ; 
this evasion and oppression did us no good ; for all the 
trade were alike, and we just sold our goods so much 
cheaper the more duty we evaded ; so tliat o)ir individ- 
ual success did not depend upon superior skill and su- 
perior morality, in making an excellent article at a mo- 
derate price, but upon superior capacity for fraud, mean- 
ness, sycophancy, and every possible baseness. Our 
lives were any thing but enviable Conscience, al- ' 
though greatly blunted by practices that were universal, 
and viewed as inevitable, still whispered that they were 
wrong ; our sentiments of self-respect very frequently 
revolted at the insults to which we wpre exposed, and 
there was a constant feeling of insecurity from the 
great extent to which we were dependent upon wretches 
whom we internally despised. When the govemmenl 
took a higher tone, and more princi])le and ctreater 
strictness in the collection of the duties were enforced, 
we thought ourselves ruined ; but the reverse has been 
the case. The duties, no doubt, are now excessively 
burdensome from their amount ; hut that is their least 
evil. If it was possible to collect them from every 
trader with perfect equality, our independence would 
be complete, and our competition w^ould be confined to 
superiority in morality and skill. Matters are much 
nearer this point now than they were fifty years ago ; 
but still they would admit of considerable improve- 
ment.' The same individual mentioned, that, in his youth, 
now seventy years ago, the civil liberty of the people 
of Scotland was held by a weak tenure. He knew in- 
stances of soldiers being sent in ti-mes of war, to the 
farm-houses, to carry off, by force, young men for the 
army ; and as this was against the law, they were ac- 
cused of some imaginary offence, such as a trespass, or 
an assault, which was proved by false witnesses, and 
the magistrate, perfectly aware of the farce, and its ob- 
ject, threatened the victim with transportation to the 
colonies, as a felon, if he would not enlist ; which he, 
of course, unprotected and overwhelmed by power and 
injustice, was compelled to consent to. 

If the same minute representation were given of 
other departments of private life, during the time of the 
oreatcst immoralities on the part of the government, we 
would find that this paltering with conscience and elm- 



46 



^ CONSTITUTION OF MA^. 



racter in the national proceedings, tended to keep down 
the morality of the people, and fostered in them a rapa- 
cious and gambling spirit, to which many of the evils 
that have since overtaken us have owed their orgin. 

But we may take a more extensive view of the sub- 
ject of national responsibility. 

In the American war England desired to gratify her 
Acquisitiveness and Self-esteem, in opposition to Be- 
nevolence and Justice, at the expense of the transat- 
lantic colonies. This roused the animal resentment of 
the latter, and the lower faculties of the two nations 
Mime into collision ; that is to say, they made war on 
each other ; England to support a dominion in direct 
hostility to the principles which regulate the moral go- 
vernment of the world, in the expectation of becoming 
rich and pov.'erful by success in that enterprise ; the 
Americans, to assert the supremacy of the higher senti- 
ments, and to become free and independent. Accord- 
ing to the principles which I am now unfolding, the 
greatest misfortune that could have befallen England 
would have been success, and the greatest advantage, 
failure in her attempt ; and the result is now acknowl- 
edged to be in exact accordance with these views. If 
, England had subdued the colonies in the American 
war, every one nuist see to what an extent her Self- 
esteem, Acquisitiveness and Destructiveness would 
have been let loose upon them ; this, in the first place, 
would have roused their animal faculties, and led them 
to give her all the annoyance in their power, and the 
fleets and armies requisite to repress this spirit would 
have far counterbalanced, in expense, all the profits 
she could have wrung out of the colonists, by extortion 
and oppression. In the second place, the very exer- 
cise of these animal faculties by herself, in opposition 
to the moral sentiments, would have rendered her go- 
vernment at home an exact parallel of that of the 
carter in his own family. The same malevolent prin- 
ciples would have overflowed on herov/n subjects, the 
government would have felt uneasy, the people re- 
bellious, discontented, and unhappy, and the moral law 
would have been amply vindicated by the sulfering 
which would have everv where abounded.- The conse- 
quences of her failure have been exactly the reverse. 
America has sprung up into a great and moral nation, 
and actually contributes ten times more to the wealth 
of Britain, standing as she now does, in her natural 
relation to this country, than she ever could have done, 
as a discontented and oppressed colony. This advan- 
tage is reaped without any loss, anxiety, or expense ; 
it flows from the divine institutions, and both nations 
profit by and rejoice under it. The moral and intellec- 
tual rivalry of America, instead of prolonging the pre- 
dominance of the propensities in Britain, tends strongly 
to excite tlie moral sentiments in her people and govern- 
ment ; and every day that we live, we are reaping the 
benefits of this improvement in wiser institutions, de- 
liverance from endless abuses, and a higher and purer 
spirit pervading every department of the executive ad- 
ministration of the country. Britain, hov/ever, did not 
escape the penalty of her attempt at the infringement of> 
the moral lav/s. The pages of her history, during the 
American vrar, are dark with suflTering and gloom, and 
at this day we sj'oan under the debt and difficulties 
then partly incurred. 

If the' world be constituted on the principles of the 
supvcmncy of the moral sentiments and intellect, the 
method of one nation seeking riches and power, by 
conquering, devastating, or. obstructing the prosperity 
of other states, must be csscntialhj futile. Being in 
opposition to the moral constitution of creation, it must 
occasion misery while in progress, and can lead to no 
result except the impoverishment and mortification of 
the people who pursue it. The national debt of Bri- 
tain has been contracted chiefly in wars, originating in 
commercial jealousy and thirst of conquest ; in short, 



under the suggestions of Combativeness, Destructiv«- 
ness. Acquisitiveness, and Self-esteem. Did not our 
ancestors, therefore, impede their own prosperity and 
happiness, by engaging in these contests ? and have 
any consequences of them reached us, except the bur- 
den of paying nearly thirty millions of taxes annually, 
as the price of the gratification of their propensitie.5 1 
Would a statesman, who believed in the doctrine of this 
Essay, have recommended these wars as essential to 
national prosperity ? If the twentieth part of the sums 
had been spent in objects recognised by the moral ecn- 
timents, for example, in instituting seminaries of edu- 
cation, penitentiaries, making roads, canals, public gra- 
naries, &c. &c. how different would have been the pre- 
sent condition of the country ! 

After the American followed the French revolution- 
ary war. Opinions are at present more divided upon 
this subject ; but my view of it, offered with the great- 
est deference, is the following. When the French 
Revolution broke put, the domestic institutions of Eng- 
land were, to a considerable extent, founded and ad- 
ministered on principles in opposition to the supremacy 
of the sentiments. A clamour was raised by the na- 
tion for reform of abuses. If my leading princi])le is 
sound, every departure from the moral law in nations, 
as well as in individuals, carries its punishment with it 
from the first hour of its commencement, till its final 
cessation; and if Britain's institutions were then, to 
any extent corrupt and defective, she could not too 
speediiy have abandoned them, and adop-ted purer and 
loftier arrangements. Her government, however, clung 
to the suggestions of the propensities, and resisted 
every innovation. To divert the national mind from 
causing a revolution at home, they embarked in a war 
abroad ; and, for a period of twenty-three years, let 
loose the propensities on France with headlong fiiry, 
and a fearful perseverance. France, no doubt, threat- 
ened the different nations of Europe with the most vio- 
lent interference with their governments ; a menace 
wholly unjustifiable, and- that called for resistance. But 
the rulers of that country were preparing their own de- 
struction, in exact proportion to their departures from 
the moral law ; and a statesman, who knew and had 
confidence in the constitution of the world, as now ex- 
plained, could have listened to the s'torm in complete 
composure, prepared to repel actual aggression, and 
left the exploding of French infatuation to the Ruler of 
the Universe, in unhesitating reliance on the efficacy 
of his laws. But England preferred a war of aggres- 
sion. If this conduct was in accordance with the sen- 
timents, we should now, like America, be reaping the 
revyard of our obedience to the moral law, and plenty 
and rejoicing should flow down our streets like a 
stream. But mark the contrast. This island exhibits 
the spectacle of millions of men, toiled to the extremity 
of human endurance, for a pittance scarcely sufficient 
to sustain life ; weavers labouring for fourteen or six- 
teen hours a day for eight pence, and frequently 
unable to procure work, even on these terms ; other 
artisans exhausted almost to death by laborious drudfxe- 
ry, who, if better recompensed, seek compensation and 
enjoyment in the grossest sensual debauchery, dnink- 
enness, and gluttony ; master-traders and manufactu- 
rers anxiously labouring for wealth, now gay in the 
fond hope that all their expectations will be realised, 
then sunk in deep despair by the breath of ruin having 
passed over them ; landholders and tenants now reap-^ 
ing ^unmeasured retwrns from their properties, then 
pining in penury, amidst an overflow of every species 
of produce ; the government cramped by an over- 
whelming debt and the prevalence of ignorance and 
selfishness on every side, so that it is impossible for it 
to follow with a bold step the most obvious dictates of 
reason and justice, owing to the countless prejudices 
and inaginary interests which every where obstrucJ 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



■47 



the path of improvement. This resembles much more 
punishment for transgression, than reward for obedience 
to the divine institutions. 

If every man in Britain will turn his attention in- 
ward, and reckon the pangs of disappointment which 
he has felt at the subversion of his own most darling 
schemes, by unexpected turns of public events, or the 
deep inroads on his happiness which such calamities, 
overtaking his dearest relations and friends, have oc- 
casioned to him ; the numberless little enjoyments in 
domestic life, which he is forced to deny himself, by 
the taxation with which they are loaded ; the obstruc- 
tions to the fair exercise of his industry and talents 
presented by stamps, licenses, excise laws, custom- 
house duties et hoc genus omne ; he will discover the 
extent of responsibility attached by the Creator to na- 
tional transgressions. From my own observation, I 
would say, that the miseries inflicted upon individuals 
and families, by fiscal prosecutions, founded on excise 
laws, stamp laws, post-office laws, &c. all originating 
in the necessity of providing for the national debt, are 
equal to those arising from some of the most extensive 
natural calamities. It is true, that few persons are pro- 
secuted without having offended ; but the evil consists 
in presenting men with enormous temptations to in- 
fringe mere financial regulations not always in accord- 
ance with natural morality, and then inflicting ruinous 
penalties for transgression. Men have hitherto ex- 
pected the punishment of their offences in the thunder- 
bolt, or the yawning earthquake ; and believed, that be- 
cause the sea did not swallow them up, or the mountain 
fall upon them and crush them to atoms, Heaven was 
taking no cognizance of their sins ; while, in point of 
fact, an omnipotent, an all-just, and an all-wise God, 
had arranged before they erred, an ample retribution in 
the very consequences of their transgressions. It is by 
looking to the princrples in the mind, from which trans- 
gressions flow, and attending to their whole operations 
and results, that we discover the real theory of the di- 
vine government. When men shall be instructed in 
the laws of creation, they will discriminate more accu- 
ratelv than heretofore between natural and factitious 
evils, and become less tolerant of the latter. 

The Spaniards, under the influence of Acquisitive- 
ness, Self-esteem, Love of Approbation, and a blind 
Veneration, conquered South America, inflicted upon 
its wretched inhabitants the most atrocious cruelties, 
and continued to weigh, for three hundred years, like 
a moral incubus, upon that quarter of the globe. 
The responsibility now shows itself. By the laws of 
the Creator, nations require to obey the moral law to 
be happy ; that is, to cultivate the arts of peace, to be 
industrious, upright, intelligent, pious, and humane. 
The reward of such conduct is individual happiness, 
and national greatness and glory. There shall then be 
none to make them afraid. The Spaniards disobeyed 
all these laws in the conquest of America, they looked 
to rapine and foreign gold, and not to industry, for 
wealth ; this fostered avarice and pride in the govern- 
ment, baseness in the nobles, indolence, ignorance, 
and mental depravity in the people ; led them to 
imagine happiness to consist, not in the exercise of the 
moral and intellectual powers, but in the gratification 
of all the inferior feelings to the outrage of the higher. 
Intellectual cultivation was utterly neglected, the sen- 
timents ran astray into the regions of bigotry and su- 
perstition, and the propensities acquired a fearful 
ascendency. These causes made them the prey of 
internal discord and foreign invaders ; and Spain, at 
this moment, suffers an awful responsibility.* 

» Cowper recognises' these principles of divine government 
as to nations, and has embodied them in the following powerful 
verses : 

The hand that slew till it could slay no more, 
Was glued to the sword-hilt with Indian gore, 
Their prince, as justly seated on his throne 
As vain imperial Philip on bis u\rn, 
1) 



In surveying ths present aspect of Europe, we per- 
ceive astonishing improvements achieved in physical 
science. How much is implied in the mere names of 
the steam-engine, power-looms, rail-roads, steam-boats, 
canals, and gas-lights ; and yet of how much misery 
are several of these inventions at present the direct 
sources, in consequence of being almost exclusively 
dedicated to the gratification of the propensities. The 
leading purpose to which the steam-engine in almost 
all its forms of application is devoted, is the accumula- 
tion of wealth, or the gratification of Acquisitiveness 
and Self-esteem ; and few have proposed, by its means^ 
to lessen the hours of toil' to the lower orders of so- 
ciety, so as to afford them opportunity and leisure for 
the cultivation of their moral and intellectual faculties, 
and thereby to enable them to render a more perfect 
obedience to the Creator's institutions. Physical has 
far outstripped moral science ; and, it appears to me, 
that, unless the light of Phrenology open the eyes of 
mankind to the real constitution of the world, and at 
length induce them to modify their conduct, in harmony 
with the laws of the Creator, their future physical dis- 
coveries will tend only to deepen their wretchedness. 
Intellect, acting as the ministering servant of the pro- , 
pensities, will lead them only farther astray. The 
science of man's whole nature, animal, moral, and in- 
tellectual, was never more required to guide him than 
at present, when he seems to wield a giant's power, 
but in the application of it to display the ignorant sel- 
fishness, wilfulness, and absurdity of an overgrown 
child. History has not yielded, and cannot yield, half 
her fruits, until mankind shall be possessed of a true 
theory of their own nature. 

SECT. IV. MORAL ADVANTAGES OF PUNISHMENT. 

After the intellect and moral sentiments have beea 
brought to recognize the principles of the Divine ad- 
ministration, so much wisdom, benevolence, and jus- 
tice, are discernible in the natural laws, that our vvhole 
nature is meliorated in undergoing the punishments 
annexed to them. Punishment endured by one indi- 
vidual also serves to warn others against transgression. 
These facts aiford another proof that a grand object of 
the arrangement of creation is the improvement of the 
moral and intellectual nature of man. So ^strikingly 
conspicuous, indeed, is the meliorating influence of suf- 
fering, that many persons have supposed this to be the 
primary object for which it is sent ; a notion which, 
with great deference, appears to me to be unfounded in 
principle, and dangerous in practice. If evils and mis- 
fortunes are mere mercies of Providence, it follows that 

Tricked out of all his royalty by art, 
That stript him bare, and broke his honest heart, 
Died by the sentence of a shaven priest, 
For scorning what they taught him to detest. 
How dark the veil, that intercepts the blaze 
Of Heaven's mysterious purposes and ways ; 
God stood not, though he seemed to stand aloof) 
And at this hour the conqueror feels the proof: 
The wreath he won drew down an instant curse, 
The fretting plague is in the public purse, 
The cankered spoil corrodes the pining state, 
Starved by that indolence their minds create. 

Oh ! could their ancient Incas rise again. 
How would they take up Israel's taunting strain i 
An thou too fallen, Iberia .' Do we see 
The robber and the murd'rer weak as we.' 
Thou that hast wasted Earth, and dared despise 
Alike the wrath and mercy of the skies, ^ 

Thy pomp is in the grave, thy glory l^d 
Low in the pits thine avarice has made. 
We come with joy from our eternal rest. 
To see th' oppressor in his turn oppressed. 
Art ihnu the god, the thunder of whose liand 
Rolled over all onr desolated land, 
Shook principalities and kingdoms down. 
And made the mountains tremble at his frown ? 
The sword shall light upon his boasted p;)wers, 
And waste them, as the sword has wasted ours. 
'Tis thus Omnipotence his law fulfils, 
And Vengeance executes what Juftice wills. 

Cowper'B Poems.— Charity p. 138. 



48 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



a headache consequent on a debauch, is not intended 
to prevent a repetition of drunkenness, so much as to 
prepare the debauchee for ' the invisible world ;' and 
that shipwreck in a crazy vessel is not designed to ren- 
der the merchant more cautious, but to lead him to 
heaven. 

It is however undeniable, that in innumerable in- 
stances pain and sorrow are the direct consequences of 
our own misconduct ; at the same time it is obviously 
benevolent in the Deity to render it beneficial directly 
as a warning against future transgression, and indirectly 
as a means of purifying the mind ; nevertheless, if we 
shall imagine that in some instances it is dispensed as 
a direct punishment for particular transgressions, and 
in others, only on account of sin in general, and with 
the view of meliorating the spirit of the sufferer, we 
shall ascribe inconsistency to the Creator, and expose 
ourselves to the danger of attributing our own afflic- 
tions to his favour, and those of others, to his wrath ; 
thus fostering in our minds self-conceit and uncharita- 
bleness. Individuals who entertain the belief that bad 
health, worldly ruin, and sinister accidents, befalling 
them, are not punishments for infringement of the laws 
of nature, but particular manifestations of the love of 
the Creator toward themselves, make slight inquiry 
into the natural causes of their miseries, and bestow 
few efforts to remove them. In consequence, the 
chastisements endured by them, neither correct their 
own conduct, nor deter others from committing similar 
transgressions. Some religious sects, who espouse 
these notions, literally act upon them, and refuse to 
inoculate with the cow-pox to escape contagion, or 
take other means of avoiding natural calamities. Re- 
garding these as dispensations of Providence, sent to 
prepare them for a future world, they conceive that the 
more of them the better. Farther ; these ideas, be- 
sides being repugnant to the common sense of man- 
kind, are at variance with the principle that the world 
is an-anged so as to favour virtue and discountenance 
vice ; because favouring virtue means obviously that 
the favoured virtuous will positively enjoy more happi- 
ness, and, negatively, suffer fewer misfortunes than the 
vicious. The view, then, now advocated, appears less 
exceptionable, viz. that punishment serves a double 
purpose, directly to warn us against transgression ; and 
indirectly, when rightly apprehended, to subdue our 
lower propensities, and purify and vivify our moral and 
intellectual powers. 

Bishop Butler coincides in this interpretation of na- 
tural calamities. ' Now,' says he, ' in the present state, 
all which we enjoy, and x great part of what we 
BtJFFER, is put in our poioer* For pleasure and pain 
are the consequences of our actions ; and we are endued 
by the Author of our nature with capacities of foresee- 
ing these consequences.' ' I know not that we have 
any one kind or degree of enjoyment, but by the means 
of our own actions. And, by prudence and care, we 
may, for the most part, pass our days in tolerable ease 
and quiet ; or, on the contrary, we may, by rashness, 
ungovcrned passion, wilfulness, or even by negligence, 
make ourselves as miserable as ever we please. And 
many do please to make themselves extremely misera- 
ble ; i. e. they do what they knew beforehand will ren- 
der them so. They follow those ways, the fruit of 
which they knew, by instruction, example, experience, 
will be disgrace, and pioverty, and sickness, and un- 
timely death. This every one observes to be the gen- 
eral course of things , though it is to be allowed, we 
cannot find by experience, that all our sufferings are 
owing to our own follies.' — Analogy, p. 40. In accord- 
ance with this last remark, I have treated of hereditary 
diseases ; and evils resulting from convulsions of phy- 
sical nature may be added to the same class. 

It has been objected that physical punishments, such 
as the breaking of an arm by a fall, are often so dispro- 
♦ These words are primeJ in Italics in liie original. 



portionally severe, that the Creator must have had 
some other and more important object in view in ap- 
pointing them, thai) to serve as mere motives to phy- 
sical observance ; and that that object must be to influ- 
ence the mind of the sufferer, and to draw his attention 
to concerns of higher import. 

In answer, I remark, that the human body is liable to 
destruction by severe injuries ; and that the degree cf 
suffering, in general, bears a just proportion to the dan- 
ger connected with the transgression. Thus, a slight 
surfeit is attended only with headache or general unea- 
siness, because it does not endanger life : a fall on any 
muscular part of the body is followed either with no 
pain, or only a slight indisposition, for the reason that 
it is not seriously injurious to life ; but when a leg ox 
arm is broken, the pain is intensely severe, because the 
bones of these limbs stand high in the scale of utility to 
man. The human body is so framed that it may fall 
nine times, and suffer little damage, but the tenth time 
a limb may be broken, which will entail a painful chas- 
tisement. By this arrangement the mind is kept alive 
to danger to such an extent, as to ensure general safety, 
while at the same time it is not overwhelmed with ter- 
ror by punishments too severe and too frequently re 
peated. In particular slates of the body, a slight wound 
may be followed by inflammation and death ; but these 
are not the results simply of the wound, but the conse- 
quences of a previous derangement of health, occasioned 
by departures from the organic laws. 

On the whole, therefore, no adequate reason appears 
for regarding the consequences of physical accidents in 
any other light than as direct punishments for infringe- 
ment of the natural laws, and indirectly as a means of 
accomplishing moral and religious improvement. 



CHAPTER IV. 

ON THE COMBINED OPERATION OF THE NATURAL LAWS. 

Having now unfolded several of the natural laws, 
and their effects, and having also attempted to shovy 
that each is inflexible and independent in itself, and re- 
quires absolute obedience, so that a man who shall ne- 
glect the physical law will suffer the physical punish- 
ment, although he mav be very attentive to the mora! 
law ; that one who infringes the organic law will suffer 
organic punishment, although he may obey the physical 
law ; and that a person who violates the moral law will 
suffer the moral punishment, although he should ob- 
serve the other two ; I proceed to show the mutual re- 
lationship between these laws, and to adduce some in- 
stances of their joint operation. 

The great fires'in Edinburgh, in November, 1824, 
when the Parliament Square and a part of the High 
Street, were consumed, will serve as one example. 
That calamity may be viewed in the following light : — 
The Creator constituted the countries of England and 
Scotland, and the English and Scottish nations, with 
such qualities and relationships, that the individuals of 
both kingdoms would be most happy in acting towards 
each other, and pursuing their separate vocations, un- 
der the supremacy of the moral sentiments. We have 
lived to see this practised, and to reap the rewards of 
it. But the ancestors of the two nations did not be- 
lieve in this constitution of the world, and thny pre- 
ferred acting on the principles of the propensities ; that 
is to say, they waged furious wars, and committed 
wasting devastations, on each other's jiroperties and 
lives. This was clearly a violent infringement of the 
moral law ; and it is obvious from history that the two 
nations were equally ferocious, and delighted recipro- 
cally in each other's calamities. One effect of it was 
to render personal safety an object of paramount impor- 
tance. The hill on which the Old Town of Edinburgh 
is built, was naturally surrounded by marshes, and pre- 
sented a perpendicular front, to the west, capable of 
being crowned with a castle. It was appropriated with 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN 



49 



avidity, and the metropolis of Scotland founded there, 
obviously and undeniably under the inspiration purely 
of the animal faculties. It was fenced round, and ram- 
parts built to exclude the fierce warriors who then in- 
habited the south of the Tweed ; and also to protect the 
inhabitants from the feudal banditti who infested their 
awn soil. The space within the walls, however, was 
limited and narrow ; the attractions to the spot were 
numerous, and to make the most of it, our ancestors 
erected the enormous masses of high, confused, and 
crowded buildings which now compose the- High Street 
of this city, and the wynds or alleys, on its two sides. 
These abodes, moreover, were constructed, to a great 
extent, of timber, for not only the joists and floors, but 
the partitions between the rooms, were of massive wood. 
Our ancestors did all this in the perfect knowledge of 
the physical law, that wood ignited by fire is not only 
consumed itself, but envelopes in inevitable destruction 
every combustible object within its influence. Farther ; 
their successors, even when the necessity had cea.sed. 
persevered in the original error, and in the perfect 
knowledge that every year added to the age of such 
fabrics, increased, their liability to burn, they allowed 
them to be occupied not only as shops filled with paper, 
spirits, and other highly combustible materials, but in- 
trod'.jced gas-lights, and let off the upper floors for 
brothels, introducing thereby into the heart of this maga- 
zine of conflagration, the most reckless and immoral of 
mankind. The consummation was the tremendous 
fires of November, 1824, the one originating in a whis- 
key-cellar, and the other in a garret brothel, which con- 
sumed the whole Parliament Square and a part of the 
High Street, destroying property to the extent of many 
thousands of pounds, and spreading misery and ruin 
over a considerable portion of the ponnlation of Edin- 
burgh. Wonder, consternation, and awe were forcibly 
excited at the vastness of this calamity ; and in the ser- 
mons that were preached, and the dissertations that 
were written upon it, much was said of the inscrutable 
ways of Providence, that sent such visitations upon the 
people, enveloping the innocent and the guilty in one 
common sentence of destruction. 

According to the exposition of the ways of Provi- 
dence which I have ventured to give, there was nothing 
wonderful, nothing vengeful, nothing arbitrary, in the 
whole occurrence. The surprising thing was, that it 
did not take place generations before. The necessity 
for these fabrics originated in gross violation of the 
moral law ; they were constructed in high contempt of 
the physical law ; and, latterly, the moral law was set 
at defiance, by placing in them inhabitants abandoned 
to the worst habits of recklessness and intoxication. 
The Creator had bestowed on men faculties to perceive 
all this, and to avoid it, whenever they chose to exert 
them ; and the destruction that ensued was the punish- 
ment of following the propensities, in preference to the 
dictates of intellect and morality. The object of the 
destruction, as a natural event, was to lead men to 
avoid repetition of the offences : but the principles of 
the divine government are not yet comprehended ; Ac- 
quisitiveness whispers that more money may be made 
of houses consisting of five or six floors, under o.ne 
roof, than of only two ; and erections, the very counter- 
parts of the former, are now rearing their heads on the 
spot where the others stood, and, sooner or later, they 
also will be overtaken by the natural laws, which never 
slumber or sleep. 

The true method of arriving at a sound view of ca- 
lamities of every kind, is to direct our attention, in the 
first instance, to the law of nature, from the operation 
of which they have originated ; then to find out the 
uses and advantages of that law, when observed ; and 
to discover whether the evils under consideration have 
arisen from violation of it. In the present instance, 
we ought never to lose sight of the fact, that the houses 
in question stood erect, and the furniture in safety, by 
16* 



the very same law of gravitation which made them top- 
ple to the foundation when it was infringed ; that man- 
kind enjoy all the benefits which result from the com- 
bustibifity of timber as fuel, by the very same law which 
renders it a devouring element, when unduly ignited ; 
that, by the same moral law, which, when infringed, 
leads to the necessity of ramparts, fortifications, crowded 
lanes, and extravagantly high houses, we enjoy, now 
that we observe it better, that security of property and 
life which distinguishes modern Scotland from an>.ient 
Caledonia. 

This instance affords a striking illustration of the 
manner in which the physical and organic laws are con- 
stituted in harmony with, and in subserviency to, the 
moral law. We see clearly that the leading cause of 
the construction of such erections as the houses of the 
Old Town of Edinburgh (with the deprivation of free 
air., and liability to combustion that attend them,) arose 
from the excessive predominance of Combativeness, 
Destrucliveness, Self-esteem and Acquisitiveness, in 
our ancestors ; and- although the ancient personages 
who erected these monuments of animal supremacy, 
had no conception that, in doing so, they were laying 
the foundations of a severe punishment on themselves 
and their posterity ; yet, when we compare the com- 
forts and advantages that would have accompanied 
dwellings constructed under the inspiration of Benevo- 
lence, Ideality, and enlightened Intellect, with the con- 
taminatinof, debasing, and dangerous effects of their 
workmanship, we perceive most clearly that tht-y actu- 
ally were the instruments of chastising their own trans- 
gressions, and of transmitting that chastisement to thoir 
posterity, so long as the animal supremacy shall be 
prolonged. Another example may be given. 

Men, by uniting under one leader, may, in virtue of 
the social law, acquire prodicrious advantages to them- 
selves, which singly they could not obtain ; and I stated, 
that the condition under which the benefits of that law 
were permitted, was, that the leader should know and 
obey the natural laws that were conducive to success ; 
if he neglected these, then the same principle which 
gave the social body the benefit of his observing them, 
involved them in the punishment of his infringement ; 
and that this was just, because, under the natural law, 
the leader must necessarily be chosen by the social 
body, and thev were responsible for not attending to his 
natural qualities. Some illustrations of the conse- 
quences of neglect of this law may be stated, in which 
the mixed operation of the physical and moral laws will 
appear. 

During the French war, a squadron of English men- 
of-war was sent to the Baltic with mihtary stores, and, 
in returning home up Channel, they were beset, for two 
or three days, bv a thick fog. It was about the middle 
of December, and no correct information was possessed 
of their exact situation. Some of the commanders 
proposed Iving-to all night, and proceeding only during 
day, to avoid running ashore unawares. The commo- 
dore was exceedingly attached to his wife and family, 
and stated his determination to pass Christmas with 
them in England, if possible, and ordered the ships to 
sail straight on their voyage. The very sam.e night they 
all struck on a sand-bank off the coast of Holland ; two 
ships of the line were dashed to pieces, and every soul 
on board perished. The third ship drew less water, 
was forced over the bank by the waves, was stranded on 
the beach, the crew saved, but led to a captivity of 
many years' duration. Now, these vessels were 
destroyed under 'the physical law ; but this calamity 
owed its origin to the predominance of the animal over 
the moral and intellectual faculties in the commodore. 
The gratification which he sought to obtain was indivi- 
dual and selfish ; and, if his Benevolence, Veneration, 
Conscientiousness, and Intellect, had been as alert and 
carried as forcibly home to his mind the operation of the 
physical laws, and the welfare of the men under his 



50 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



charge ; nay, if these faculties had been sufficiently 
alive to see the danger to which he exposed his own 
life, and the happiness of his own wife and children, 

he never could have followed the precipitate course 

which consigned himself, and so many brave men, to a 
watery orave, within a few hours after his resolution 
was formed. 

Very lately the Ogle Castle East Indiamen was ■offer- 
ed a pilot coming up Channel, but the captain refused 
assistance, professing his own skill to be sufficient. In 
a few hours the ship ran aground on a sand-bank, and 
every human being perished in the waves. This also 
arose from the physical law, but the unfavourable oper- 
ation of it sprung from Self-esteem, pretending to know- 
edo-e which the intellect did noi possess ; and, as it is 
only by the latter that obedience can be yielded to the 
physical laws, the destruction of the ship was indirectly 
the consequence of infringement of the moral and in- 
tellectual laws. 

An old sailor, whom Ilatelymet on the Queensferry 
passage, told me, that he had been nearly fifty years at 
sea. and once was in a fifty gun ship in the West Indies. 
The captain, he said, was a ' fine man ;' he knew the 
climate, and foresaw a hurricane coming, by its natural 
and, on one occasion, in particular, he struck the 



topmasts, lowered the yards, lashed the guns, made 
each man supply himself with food for thirty-six hours, 
and scarcely was this done when the hurricane came ; 
ihe ship lay for four hours on her beam-ends in the 
water ; but all was prepared ; the men were kept in 
vigour durinof the storm, and fit for every exertion ; the 
ship at last righted, suffered little damage, and proceed- 
ed on her vovage. The fleet which she convoyed was 
dispersed, and a great number of the ships foundered. 
Here we see the supremacy of the moral and intellectual 
faculties, and discover to what a surprising extent they 
present a guarantee, even against the fury of the phy- 
sical elements in their highest state of agitation. 

One of the most instructive illustrations of the con- 
nexion between the different natural laws is presented 
m Captain Lyon's brief narrative of an unsuccessful at- 
tempt to reach Repulse Bay, in his Majesty's ship Gri- 
per, in the year 1824. 

Captain Lyon mentions, that he sailed in the Griper 
on 13th June, 1824, in company with his Majesty's 
surveying vessel Snap, as a store-tender. The Griper 
was 180 tons burden, and 'drew 16 feet 1 inch abaft, 
and 15 feet 10 inches forward.' — p. 2. On the 26th, 
he ' was sorry to observe that the Griper, from her great 
depth and sharpness forward, pitched very deeply.' — p. 
3. She sailed so ill, that ' in a stiff breeze and with 
studding-sails set, he was unable to get above four 
knots an hour out of her, and she was twice whirled 
round in an eddy in the Pentland Frith, from which she 
could not escape.' — p. 6. On the 3d July, ' beingnow 
fairly at sea, I caused the Snap to take us in tow, 
which I had declined doing as we passed up the east 
coast of England, although our little companion had 
much difficulty in keeping under sufficiently low sail 
for us, and by noon we had passed the Stack Back.' 
' The Snap was of the greatest assistance, the Griper 
frequently towing at the rate of five knots, in cases 
where she would not have gone three.' — ^p. 10. ' On the 
forenoon of the 16th, the Snap came and took us in 
tow ; but at noon on the 17th, strong breezes and a 
heavy swell obliged us again to cast off. We scudded 
while able, but our depth on the water caused us to ship 
so many heavy seas, that 1 most reluctantly brought to 
under storm stay-sails. This was rendered exceeding 
mortifying, by observing that our companion was per- 
fectly dry, and not affected by the sea.' p. 13. ' When 
our stores were all on board, we found our narrow decks 
completely crowded by them. The gang-ways, fore- 
castle, and abaft the mizen-mast, were filled with casks 
hawsers, whale-lines, and stream-cables, while on our 
straitened lower decks we were obliged to place casks 



and other stores, in every part but that allotted to thft 
ship's company's mess-tables ; and even my cabin 
had a quantity of things stowed away in it.' — p. 
21. ' It may be proper to mention, that the Fury 
and Hecla, which were enabled to stow three years' 
provisions, were each exactly double the size of the 
Griper, and the Griper carried two years' and a half's 
provisions, — ^pp 22, 23. 

Arrived in the Polar Seas, they were visited by a 
storm, of which Captain Lyon gives the following de- 
scription : We soon, however, came to fifteen fathoms, 
and I kept right away, but had then only ten ; when, being 
unable to see far around us, and observing, from the 
whiteness of the water, that we were ou a bank, I 
rounded to at 7 a. m., and tried to bring up with the 
starboard anchor, and seventy fathoms chain, but the 
stiff bre'cze and heavy sea caused this to part in half an 
hour, and we again made sail to the north-eastward : 
but finding that we came suddenly to seven fathoms 
and that the ship could not possibly work out again, as 
she would not face the sea, or keep steerage-way on 
her, I most reluctantly brought her up with three bow- 
ers and a stream in succession, yet not before we had 
shoaled to five and a half. This was between 8 and 9 
A. M., the ship pitching bows under, and a tremendous 
sea running. At noon, the starboard-bower anchor 
parted, but the others held. 

' As there was every reason to fear the falling of the 
tide, which we knew to be from twelve to fifteen feet 
on this coast, and in that case the total destruction of 
the ship, I caused the long-boat to be hoisted out, and 
with the four smaller ones to be stored to a certain ex- 
tent, with arms and provisions. The officers drew lots 
for their respective boats, and the ship's company were 
stationed to them. The long-boat having been filled full 
of stores, which could not be put below, it became re- 
quisite to throw them overboard, as there was no room 
for them on our very small and crowded decks, over 
uhich heavy seas were constantly swecpiitg. In making 
these preparations for taking to the boats, it was evi- 
dent to all, that the long-boat was the only one that had 
the slin-htest chance of living under the lee of the ship, 
should she be wrecked, but every officer and man drew 
his lot with the greatest composure, though two of our 
boats would have swamped the instant they were low- 
ered. Yet, such was the noble feeling of those around 
me, that it was evident, that, had I ordered the boats 
in question to be manned, their crews would have en- 
tered them without a murmur. In the aftemoon, on 
the weather clearing a little, we discovered a low 
beach all around astern of us, on which the surf was 
running to an awful height, and it appeared evident 
that no human powers could save us. At 3 p. m. the 
tide had fallen to twenty-two feet, {only six feet more 
than we drew,) and the ship, having bee?! lifted by a 
tremendous sea, struck with great violence the length oj 
her keel. This we naturally conceived was the fore- 
runner of her total wreck, and we stood in readiness 
to take the boats, and endeavour to hang under her lee. 
She continued to strike with sufficient force to tava 
burst any less fortified vessel, at intervals of a few iiin- 
utes, whenever an unusual heavy sea passed us. And, 
as the water was so shallow, these might almost be 
called breakers rather than waves, for each in passing 
burst with great force over our gangways, and as every 
sea ' topped,' our decks were continually, and fre- 
quently deeply, flooded. All hands took a little re- 
freshment, for some had scarcely been below for twenty 
four hours, and I had not been in bed for three nights. 
Although few, or none of us, had any idea that we 
should survive the gale, we did not think that our com- 
forts should be entirely neglected, and an order was 
therefore given to the men to put on their best and 
warmest clothing, to enable them to support life as 
loner as possible. Every man, therefore, brought his 
baa- on deck, and dressed himself; and in the fine 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



51 



Btliletic forms which stood before me, I did not see one 
muscle quiver, nor the slightest sign of alarm. The 
officers each secured some useful instrument about 
them, for the purposes of observation, although it was 
acknowledged by ail that not the slightest hope re- 
mained. And now that every thing in our power had 
been done, I called all hands aft, and to a merciful God 
ofi'ercd prayers for our preservation. I thanked every 
one for their excellent conduct, and cautioned them, as 
we should, in all probability, soon appear before our 
Maker, to enter his presence as men resigned to their 
fate. We then all sat down in groups, and, sheltered 
from the wash of the sea, by whatever we could find, 
many of us endeavoured to obtain a little sleep. Never, 
perhaps, was witnessed a finer scene than on the deck 
of my little ship, when all the hope of life had left us. 
Noble as the character of the British sailor is always 
allowed to be in cases of danger ; yet I did not believe 
it to be possible, that, amongst forty-one persons, not 
one repining word should have been uttered. The offi- 
cers sat about, wherever they could find a shelter from 
the sea, and the men lay down conversing with each 
other with the most perfect calmness. Each was at 
peace with his neighbour and all the world, and I am 
firmly persuaded that the resignation v/hich was then 
shown to the will of the Almighty, was the means of 
obtaining his mercy. At about 6 p. m., the rudder, 
which had already received some very heavy blows, 
rose, and broke up the after-lockers, and this was the 
last severe shock that the ship received. We found 
by the well that she made no water, and by dark she 
struck no more. God was merciful to us, and the tide, 
almost miraculously fell no lower. At dark heavy rain 
fell, but was borne in patience, for it beat down the 
gale, and brought with it a light air from the northward. 
At 9 p. M., the water had deepened to five fathoms. 
The ship kept off the ground all night, and our ex- 
hausted crew obtained some broken rest.' — p. 76. 

In humble gratitude for his deliverance, he called the 
place * The Bay of God's mercy,' and ' offered up thanks 
and praises to God, for the mercy he had shown to us.' 

On 12th September, they had another gale of wind, 
with cutting showers of sleet, and a heavy sea. ' At 
such a time as this,'' says Captain Lyon '?t;e had fresh 
cause to deplore the extreme dullness of the Griper''s 
sailing; for though almost any other vessel would have 
worked off this lea-shore, we made little or 7io progress 
on a wind, but remained actually pitching, forecastle 
under, with scarcely steeragc-icay, to preserve which I 
was ultimately obliged to keep her nearly two points off 
the wind.'— p. 98. 

Another storm overtook them, which is described as 
follows ; — ' Never shall I forget the dreariness of this 
most anxious night. Our ship pitched at such a rate 
that it was not possible to stand, even below ; while on 
deck we were unable to move, without holding by ropes, 
which were stretched from side to side. The drift 
snow flew in such sharp heavy flakes, that we could 
not look to windward, and it froze on deck to above 
a foot in depth. The sea made incessant breaches 
quite fore and aft the ship, and the temporary warmth 
it gave while it washed over us, was most painfully 
checked, by its almost immediately freezing on our 
clothes. To these discomforts were added, the horri- 
ble uncertainty as to whether the cables would hold 
vmtil daylight, and the conviction also, that if they fail- 
ed us, we should be instantly dashed to piec^ ; the 
wind blowing directly to the quarter in which we knew 
the shore must lie. Again, should they continue to 
liold us, we feared, by the ship's complaining so much 
forward, that the bitts would be torn up, or that she would 
settle down at her anchors, overpowered by some of 
the tremendous seas which burst over her. 4Vt dawn 
on the 13th, thirty minutes after four a. m., we found 
that the best bower cable had parted ; and, as the gale 
no\» Dlew with terrific violence from the north, there 



was little reason to expect that the other anchors would 
hold long ; or, if they did, we pitched so deeply, and 
lifted so great a body of water each time that it was 
feared the windlass and forecastle waidd be torn up, or 
she must go down at her anchors ; although the ports 
were knocked out, and a considerable portion of the 
bulwark cut away, she could scarcely discharge one sea 
before shipping another, and the decks were frequently 
flooded to an alarming depth. 

'At six A. M., all farther doubts on this particular 
account were at an end ; for, having received two 
overwhelming seas, both the other cables went at the 
same moment, and we were left helpless, without an- 
chors, or any means of saving ourselves, should the 
shore, as we had every reason to expect, be close 
astern. And here, again, I had the happiness of wit- 
nessing the same tranquillity as was shown on the 1st 
of September. There was no outcry that cables were 
gone ; but my friend Mr. Manico, with Mr. Carr the 
gunner, came aft as soon as they recovered their legs, 
and, m the lowest whisper, informed me that the ca- 
bles had all parted. The ship, in trending to the wind, 
lay quite down on her broadside, and as it then became 
evident that nothing held her, and that she was quite 
helpless, each man instinctively took his station ; while 
the seamen at the leads, having secured themselves as 
well as was in their power, repeated their soundings, 
on which our preservation depended, with as much 
composure as if we had been entering a friendly port. 
Here, again, that Almighty power, which had before so 
mercifully preserved us, granted us his protection." — 
p. 100. 

Nothing can be more interesting and movmg than 
this narrative ; it displays a great pr(;dominance of the 
moral sentiments and intellect,but sadly unenlightened 
as to the natural laws. I quoted, in Captain Lyon"s 
own words, his description of the Griper, loaded to 
such excess that she drew sixteen feet water ; that sho 
was incapable of sailing ; that she was whirled round 
in an eddy in the Pentland Frith ; that seas broke over 
her that did not wet the deck of the little Snap, not half 
her size. Captain Lyon knevy all this ; and also the 
roughness of the climate to which he was steering ; 
and, with these outrages of the physical law staring 
him in the face, he proceeded on his voyage, without 
addressing, so far as we perceive, one remonstrance to 
the Lords of the Admiralty on the subject of this in- 
fringement of every principle of common prudence. 
My opinion is, that Captain Lyon was not blind to the 
errors committed in his equipment, or to their probable 
consequences ; but that his powerful sentiment of Ve- 
neration, combined with Cautiousness and Love of Ap- 
probation, (misdirected in this instance), deprived him 
of courage to complain to the Admiralty, through fear 
of giving offence : or that, if he did complain, they 
have prevented him from stating the facts in his narra- 
tive. To the tempestuous north he sailed ; and his 
greatest dangers were clearly referable to the xerj m- 
fringcments of the physical laws which he describes. 
When the tide ebbed, his ship reached to within six 
feet of the bottom, and, in the hollow of every wave, 
struck with great violence ; but she was loaded at least 
four feet too deeply, by his own account ; so that, if 
he had done his own duty, she would have had four 
feet of additional water, or ten feet in all, between her 
and the bottom, even in the hollow of the wave, — a 
matter of the very last importance, in such a critical 
condition. Indeed, with four fe^t more wat€r, she 
would not have struck. Besides, if less loaded, she 
would have struck less violently. Again, when press- 
ed upon a lea- shore, her incapability of ,sailing was a 
most obvious cause of danger ; in short, if Providence 
is to be regarded as the cause of these calamities, there 
is no impropriety which man can commit, which may 
not, on the same prin,f iplos, be charged against the 
Creator. 



52 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



But the moral law again shines forth in delightful 
splendour, in the conduct of Captain Lyon and his crew, 
when in the most forlorn condition. Piety, resignation, 
and manly resolution, then animated them to the no- 
blest efforts. On the principle, that the power of ac- 
commodating the conduct to the natural laws, depends 
on the activity of the sentiments and intellect, and that 
the more numerous the faculties that are excited, the 
greater is the energy communicated to the whole sys- 
tem, I would say, that, while Captain Lyon's sufferings 
were, in a great degree, brought on by his infringe- 
ments of the physical laws, his escape was, in a great 
measure, promoted by his obedience to the moral 
law ; and that Providence, in the whole occurrences, 
proceeded on the broad and general principle, which 
sends advantage uniformly as the rev^ard of obedience, 
and evil as the punishment of infringement, of every 
particular law of creation. 

That storms and tempests have been instituted for 
some benevolent end, may, perhaps, be acknowledged, 
when their causes and effects are fully known, which 
at present is not the case. But, even amidst all our 
ignorance of these, it is surprising how small a portion 
of evil they would occasion, if men obeyed the laws 
which are actually ascertained. How many ships- perish 
from being sent to sea in an old worn out condition, and 
ill equipped, through mere Acquisitiveness ; and how 
many more, from captains and crews being chosen who 
are greatly deficient in knowledge, intelligence, and 
morality, in consequence of which they infringe the 
physical laws. We ought to look to all these matters, 
before complaining of storms as natural institutions. 

The last example of the mixed operation of the natu- 
ral laws which \ shall notice, is that which followed 
from the mercantle distresses of 1825-6. I have traced 
the origin of that visitation to excessive activity of Ac- 
quisitiveness, and a general ascendancy of the animal 
I and selfish faculties over the moral and intellectual 
powers. The punishments of these offences were mani- 
fold. The excesses infringed the moral law, and the 
chastisement for this was deprivation of the tranquil, 
steady enjoyment that flows only from the sentiments, 
with severe suffering in the ruin of fortune and blasting 
of hope. These disappointments produced mental an- 
giiish and depression ; which occasioned unhealthy ac- 
tion in the brain. The action of the brain being dis- 
turbed, a morbid nervous influence was transmitted to 
the whole corporeal system,; bodily disease was super- 
added to mental sorrow, and, in some instances, the 
unhappy sufferers committed suicide to escape from 
these aggravated evils. Under the organic law, the 
children produced in this period of mental depression, 
bodilv distress, and organic derangement, will inherit 
weak bodies, with feeble and irritable minds, a heredi- 
tary chastisement of their fathers transgressions. 

In the instances novir given, we discover the various 
laws acting in perfect harmony, and in subordination 
to the moral and intellectual. If our ancestors had not 
forsaken the supremacy of the moral sentiments, such 
fabrics at the houses in the Old Tov/n of Edinburgh 
never would have been built; and if the modern pro- 
prietors had returned to that law, and kept profligate 
and drunken inhabitants out of them, the conflagration 
might still have been avoided. In the case of the ships, 
we saw that wherever intellect and sentiment had been 
relaxed, and animal motives permitted to assume the 
supremacy, evil had speedily follovvcd ; and that where 
the higher powers were called forth, safety had been ob- 
tained. And, finally, in the case of the merchants and 
manufacturers, we traced their calamities directly to 
placing Acquisitiveness and Ambition above Intellect 
and sentiment. 

Formidable and appaling, then as these punishments 
are, yet, when we attend to the laws under which they 
occur, and perceive that the object and legitimate ope- 
lation of every one of them, when observed, is to pro- 



duce happiness to man ; and that the punishments hav« 
the sole object in view of forcing him bark to this en- 
joyment, we cannot, under the supremacy of the senti- 
ments and ii.tcllect, fail to bow in humility before them, 
as at once wise, just, and beneficent. 



CONCLUSION. 

The question has frequently been asked, "V\Tiat is the 
practical use of Phrenology, even supposing it to be 
true ] A few observations will enable us to answer 
this inquiry ; and, at the same time to present a brief 
summary of the doctrine of the preceding Essay. 

Prior to the age of Galileo, the earth and sun pre- 
sented to the eye phenomena exactly similar to those 
which they now exhibit ; but their motions appeared in 
a very different light to the irnderstanding. 

Before the age of Newton, the revolutions of the 
planets were known as matter of fact ; but the under- 
standing was ignorant of the principle of their motions. 

Previous to the dawn of modern chemistry, many of 
the qualities of physical substances wer6 ascertained 
by observation, but their ultimate principles and rela- 
tions were not understood. 

Knowledge may be rendered beneficial in two ways, 
either by rendering the substance discovered directly 
subservient to human enjoyment ; or, where this is im- 
possible, by modifying human conduct in harmony with 
its qualities. While knowledge of any department of 
nature remains imperfect and empirical, the unknown 
qualities of the objects belonging to it, may render our 
efforts either to apply or to accord with those which are 
known, altogether abortive. Hence it is only after ul- 
timate principles have been discovered, their relations 
ascertained, and this knowledge has been syslematised. 
that science can attain its full character of utility. The 
merits of Galileo and Newton consist in having render- 
ed this service to astronomy. 

Before the appearance of Drs Gall and Spurzheim. 
mankind were practically acquainted with the feelings 
and intellectual operations of their own minds ; and 
anatomists, knew the appearances of the brain. But 
the science of Mind. was very much in the same state 
as that of the heavenly bodies prior to Galileo and 
Newton. This remark is borne out by the following 
considerations ; 

First. No unanimity prevailed among philosophers 
concerning the elementary feelings and intellectual 
powers of man. Individuals, deficient in Conscienti- 
ousness, for instance denied that the sentiment of jus- 
tice was a primitive mental quality of mind. Others, 
deficient in Veneration, asserted that man was not na- 
turally prone to worship, and ascribed religion to the 
invention of priests. 

Secondly. The extent to which the primitive fa- 
culties differ in relative strength, was matter of dispute, 
or of vague conjecture ; and there was no agreement 
whether many actual attainments were the gifts of na- 
ture, or the results of mere cultivation. 

Thirdly. Different modes of the game feeling were 
often mistaken for different feelings ; and modes of ac- 
tion of all the intellectual faculties were mistaken for 
faculties themselves. 

Fourthly. The brain, confessedly the most impor- 
tant organ of the body, and that with which the nerves 
of the senses, of motion, and of feeling directly com- 
munitate, had no ascertained functions. Mankind 
were ignorant of its uses, and of its influence on the 
mental faculties. They indeed still dispute that its 
different parts are the organs of different mental 
powers, and that the vigour of manifestation bears a 
proportion, ccctcris paribus, to the size of the organ. 

If, in^hysics, imperfect and empirical knowledge ren- 
ders the unknown qualities of bodies liable to frustrate 
the efforts of man to apply or to accommodate his con- 
duct to their known qualities; and il' only a com- 



CONSTITUTION OF MA . 



53 



plete and systematic exhibition of ultimate principles, 
and their relations, can confer on science its fnll cha- 
racter of utility,— the same doctrine applies with equal 
or greater force to the philosophy of man. For example, 

Politics embrace forms of government, and the re- 
lations between different states. AH government is 
designed to combine the efforts of individuals, and to 
regulate their conduct when united. To arrive at the 
best means of accomplishing this end, systematic know- 
ledge of the nature of man seems highly important. A 
despotism, for example, may restrain some abuses of 
the lower propensities, but it assuredly impedes the ex- 
ercise of reflection, and others of the highest and no- 
blest powers. A form of government can be suited to 
the nature of man only when it is calculated to permit 
the legitimate use and to restrain the abuses, of all his 
mental feelings and capacities ; and how can such a 
government be devised, while these principles, with 
their spheres of action, and external relations, are im- 
perfectly ascertained. Again ; all relations between 
different states must also be in accordance with the na- 
ture of man, to prove permanently beneficial ; and the 
question recurs. How are these to be framed while that 
nature is matter of conjecture 1 Napoleon disbelieved 
in a sentiment of justice as an innate quality of mind ; 
and, in his relations with other states, relied on fear 
and interest as the gTand motives of conduct : but that 
scntim'^.nt existed ; and cohnbined with other faculties 
which he outraged, prompted Europe to hurl him from 
his throne. If Napoleon had comprehended the princi- 
ples of human nature, and their relations, as forcibly 
and clearly as the principles of mathematics, in which 
he excelled, his understanding would have greatly mo- 
dified his conduct, and Europe would have escaped 
prodigious calamities. 

Legislation, civil and criminal, is intended to regu- 
late and direct the human faculties in their efforts at 
gratification ; and, to be useful, laws must accord with ' 
the constitution of these faculties. But how can sa- 
lutary laws be enacted, while the subject to be gov- 
erned, or. human nature, is not accurately understood ! 
The inconsistency and intricacy of the laws even in 
enlightened nations, have aflbrded themes for the sati- 
rist in every age ; and how could the case be other- 
wise ! Legislators provided rules for directing the 
qualities of human nature, which they conceived them- 
selves to know ; but either error in their conceptions, 
or the effects of other qualities unknown or unattended 
to, defeated their intentions. The law, for example, 
punishing heresy with burning, was addressed by our 
ancestors to Cautiousness, Self-love, and other inferior 
feelings ; but Intellect, Veneration, Conscientiousness, 
and Firmness, were omitted in their estimate of hu- 
man principles of action ; and these set their law at de- 
fiance. 

There are many laws still in the statute book, equal- 
ly at variance with the nature of man. 

Education is intended to enlighten the intellect and 
moral sentiments, and train them to vigour. But how 
can this be successfully accomplished, when the facul- 
ties and sentiments themselves, the laws to which they 
are subjected, and their relations to external objects, 
are unascertained. Accordingly, the theories and prac- 
tices observed m education are innumerable and con- 
tradictory, which could not happen if men knew the 
constitution of the object which they were training. 

Morals and Religion, also, cannot assume a sys- 
tematic and demonstrable character, until the element- 
ary qualities of mind, and their relations shall be ascer- 
tained 

It is presumable that the Deity, in creating the moral 
powers and the external world, really adapted the one 
to the other ; so that individuals and nations, in pursu- 
ing morality, must, in every instance, be promoting 
their best interests, and, in departing from it, liiust be 
sacTJiicing them to passion or to illusory notions of ad- 



vantage. But, until the nature of man, and the relation- 
ship between it and the external world, shall be scientifi- 
cally ascertained, and systematically expounded, it will 
be impossible to support morality by the powerful de- 
monstration of interest, as here supposed, coinciding 
with it. The tendency in most men to view expedien- 
cy as not always coincident with justice affords a strik- 
ing proof of the limited knowledge of the constitution 
of man and the external world still prevalent in society. 

The diversities of doctrine in religion also obviously 
owe their origin to ignorance of the primitive faculties 
and their relations. The faculties diflfer in relative 
strength in different individuals, and each person is 
most alive to objects and views connected with the 
powers predominant in himself. Hence, in reading the 
Scriptures, one is convinced that they establish Calvin- 
ism ; another, possessing a different combination of 
faculties, discovers in them Lutheranism ; and a third 
is satisfied that Socinianism is the only true interpreta- 
tion. These individuals have, in general, no distinct 
conception that the views which strike them most forci- 
bly, appear in a different light to minds differently con- 
stituted. A correct interpretation of revelation must 
harmonize with the dictates of the moral sentiments 
and intellect holding the animal propensities in sub- 
ordination. It may legitimately go beyond what thejj 
unaided, could reach ; but it cannot contradict them 
because this would be setting the revelation of the 
bible in opposition to the inherent dictates of the facul- 
ties constituted by the Creator, which cannot be admit- 
ted ; as the Deity is too powerful and wise to be incon- 
sistent. But mankind will never be induced to bow to 
such interpretations, while each takes his individual 
mind as a standard of human nature in general, and 
conceives that his own impressions are synonymous 
with absolute truth. The establishment of the na- 
ture of man, therefore on a scientific basis, and in a 
systematic form, must aid the cause both of morality 
and religion. 

The PROFESSIONS, PURSUITS, AMUSEMENTS, and 
HOURS OF EXERTION of individuals, ought also to bear 
reference to their physical and mental constitution, ; 
but hitherto no guiding principle has been possessed 
to regulate practice in these important particulars, — 
another evidence that the science of man has been un 
known. 

But we require only to attend to the scenes daily 
presenting themselves in society, to obtain irresistible 
demonstration of the consequences resulting from the 
want of a true theory of human nature, and its relations. 
Every preceptor in schools, every professor in colleges, 
every author, editor, and pamphleteer, every member ot 
Parhament, counsellor, and judge, has a set of notions 
of his own, which in his mind hold the place of a systeflx 
of the philosophy of m,an ; and although he may not 
have methodised his ideas, or even acknowledged them 
to himself as a theory, yet they constitute a standard to 
him by which he practically judges of all questions in 
morals, politics, and religion ; he advocates whatever 
views coincide with them, and condemns all that differ 
from them, with an unhesitating dogmatism as the most 
pertinacious theorist on earth. Each also despises the 
notions of his fellows, in so far as they differ from his 
own. In short, the human faculties too generally oper- 
ate simply as instincts, exhibiting all tlie confliction and 
uncertainty of mere feeling, unenlighted by perception 
of their own nature and objects. Hence public mea- 
sures in general, whether relating to education, religion, 
trade, manufactures, the poor, criminal law, or to any 
other of the dearest interests of society, instead of 
being treated as branches of one general system of eco- 
nomy, and adjusted each on scientific principles in har- 
mony with all the rest, are supported or opposed on 
narrow and empirical grounds, and often call forth dis- 
plays of ignorance, prejudice, «elfishness, intolerance, 
and bigotry, that greatly obstruct the progress of un- 



54 



(Constitution of man. 



provement. Indeed, unanimity, even among sensible 
and virtuous men, will be impossible, so long as no 
standard of mental philosophy is admitted to guide in- 
dividual feelings and perceptions. But the state of 
things now described could not exist if education em- 
braced a true system of human nature and its relations. 

If, then, phrenology be true, it will, when matured, 
supply the deficiencies now pointed out. 

But, here, another question naturally presents itself. 
How are the views now expounded, supposing them to 
contain some portion of truth, to be rendered practical 1 
In answer I remark, that the institutions and manners 
of society indicate the state of mind of the influential 
classes at the time when they prevail. The trial and 
burning of old women as witches, point out clearly 
the predominance of Destructiveness and Wonder over 
Intellect and Benevolence in those who were guilty of 
such cruel absurdities. The practices of wager of 
battle, and ordeal by fire and water, indicate Combat- 
iveness, Destructiveness, and Veneration, to have been 
inoTeat activity in those who permitted them, combin- 
ed with much intellectual ignorance of the natural con- 
stitution of the world. In like manner, the enormous 
sums willingly expended in war, and the small sums 
grudgingly paid for public improvements ; the intense 
energy displayed in the pursuit of wealth ; and the ge- 
neral apathy evinced in the search after knowledge and 
vurtue unequivocally proclaim activity of Combativeness 
Destructiveness, Acquisitiveness, Self-esteem and Love 
of Approbation ; with comparatively moderate vivacity 
of Benevolence and Intellect in the present generation. 
Before, therefore, the practices of mankind can be alter- 
ed, the state of their minds must be changed. No prac- 
tical error can be greater than that of establishing institu- 
tions greatly in advance of the mental condition of the 
people. The rational method is first to instruct the in- 
tellect, then to interest the sentiments, and, last of all, 
to form arrangements in harmony with, and resting on, 
these as their basis. 

The views developed in the preceding chapters, if 
founded in nature, may be expected to lead, ultimately, 
to considerable changes in many of the customs and 
pursuits of society ; but to accomplish this effect, the 
principles themselves must first be ascertained to be 
true ; then they must be sedulously taught ; and when 
the public mind has been thoroughly prepared, then only 
ought important practical alterations to be proposed. 
It appears to me that a long series of years will be ne- 
cessary to bring even civilized nations into a condition 
systematically to obey the natural laws. 
' The preceding chapters may be regarded, in one 
sense, as an introduction to an Essay on Education. 
If the views unfolded in them be in general sound, it 
•will follow that education has scarcely yet commenced. 
If the Creator has bestowed on the body, on the mind, 
and on external nature, determinate constitutions, and 
arranged these so as to act on each other, and to pro- 
duce happiness or misery to man, according to certain 
definite principles, and if this action goes on invariably, 
inflexibly, and irresistibly, whether men attend to it or 
not, it is obvious that the very basis of useful know- 
ledge must consist in an acquaintance with these natu- 



ral arrangements ; and that education will be valuable 
in the exact degree in which it communicates such in- 
formation, and trains the faculties to act upon it. Read- 
ing, writing, and accounts, which make up the instruc- 
tion enjoyed by the lower orders, are merely means of 
acquiring knowledge, but do not constitute it. Greek, 
Latin, and mathematics, which are added in the educa- 
tion of the middle classes, are still only means of OD- 
taining information ; so that, with the exception of a 
few who pursue physical. science, society dedicates very ,. 
little attention to the study of the natural laws. In fol- 
lowing out the views now discussed, therefore, each 
individual, according as he becomes acquainted with 
the natural laws, ought to obey them, and to commu- 
nicate his experience of their operations to others; 
avoiding at the same time all attempts at subverting, 
by violence, established institutions, or outraging pub- 
lic sentiment by intemperate discussions. The doc- 
trine now unfolded, if true, authorises us to predicate 
that the most successful method of meliorating the con- 
dition of mankind, will be that which appeals most di- 
rectly to their moral sentiments and intellect ; and, I 
may add from experience and observation, that, in pro- 
portion as any individual becomes acquainted with the 
real constitution of the human mind, will his conviction 
of the efficacy of this method mcrease. 

The next step ought to be to teach those laws to the 
young.* Their minds, not being pre-occupied by pre- 
judices, will recognise them as congenial to their con- 
stitution ; the first generation that has embraced them 
from infancy will proceed to modify the institutions of 
society into accordance with their dictates ; and in the 
course of ages they may at length be acknowledged as 
practically useful. All true theories have ultimately 
been adopted and influenced practice ; and I see no 
reason to fear that the present will prove an exception. 
The failure of all previous systems is the natural con- 
sequence of their being unfounded ; if this one shall 
resemble them, it will deserve, and assuredly will meet ' 
with, a similar fate. A perception of the importance 
of the natiiral laws will lead to their observance, and 
this will be attended with an improved development of 
brain, thereby increasing the desire and capacity for 
obedience. 

Finally. If it De true that the Natural Laws must 
be obeyed as a preliminary condition to happiness in 
this world, and if virtue and happiness bo inseparably 
allied, the-religious instructors of mankind may proba- 
bly discover in the general and prevalent ignorance of 
these laws, one reason of the limited success which has 
hitherto attended their own efforts at improving the 
condition of mankind ; and they may perhaps perceive 
it to be not inconsistent vy^ith their sacred office, to in- 
struct men in the natural institutions of the Creator, 
in addition to his revealed will, and to recommend obe- 
dience to both. They exercise so vast an influence 
over the best members of society, that their counte- 
nance may hasten, or their opposition retard, by a cen- 
tury, the practical adoption of the natural laws, as guidet 
of human conduct. 

* Some observations on education will be found in tho Phreno 
logical Journal, vol. ir, p. 407. 



APPENDIX. 



NOTE I. 



NATURAL LAWS. Text, p. 3. 

In the text it is mentioned, that many philosophers 
have treated of the Laws of Nature. The following 
aje examples : • 

Mr Stewart says, 'To examine the economy of na- 
ture in the phenomena of the lower animals, and to 
compare their instincts,with the physical circumstances 
of their external situation, forms one of the finest spe- 
culations of Natural History ; and yet it is a specula- 
tion to which the attention of the natural historian has 
seldom been directed. Not only BufTon, but Ray and 
Derham have passed it over slightly ; nor, indeed, do I 
know of any one who has made it the object of a par- 
ticular consideration but Lord Kames, in a short Ap- 
pendix to one of his Sketches. — Elements of the Fhi- 
losophy of the Human Mind, vol. iii, p. 368. 

Mr Stewart also uses the following words : — ' Num- 
berless examples show that nature has done no more 
for man than was necessary for his preservation, leav- 
ing him to make many acquisitions for himself, which 
she has imparted immediately to the brutes. 

' My own idea is, as I have said on a different occa- 
sion, that both instinct and experience are here con- 
cerned, and that the share which belongs to each in 
producing the result, can be ascertained by an appeal 
to facts alone.' — Vol. iii, ch. 338. 

Montesquieu introduces his Spirit of Laws by the 
following observations : — ' Laws, in their most general 
signification, are the necessary relations derived from 
the nature of things. In this sense, all beings have 
their laws ; the Deity has his laws ; the material world 
its laws ; the intelligences superior to man have their 
laws ; the beasts their laws ; man his laws. 

' Those who assert that a blind fatality produced the 
various effects we iehold in this world, are guilty of a 
Tery great absurdity : for can any thing be more ab- 
eurd than to pretend that a blind fatality could be pro- 
ductive of intelligent beings 1 

' There is, then, a primitive reason ; and laws are 
the relations which subsist between it and different 
beings, and the relations of these beings among them- 
selves. 

' God is related to the universe as creator and pre- 
server ; the laws hy which he has created all things are 
those by ivMch he preserves them. He acts according 
to these rules, because he knows them : he knows them 
because he has made them ; and he made them because 
they are relative to his wisdom and pov/er, &c. 

' Man, as a physical being, is, like other bodies, go- 
verned by invariable laws.'' — Spirit of Laws, b. i, c. i. 

Justice Blackstone observes, that ' Law, in its most 
general and comprehensive sense, signifies a rule of 
action ; and is applied indiscriminately to all kinds of 
action, whether animate or inanimate, rational or irra- 
tional. Thus we say, the laws of motion, of gravita- 
tion, of optics, or mechanics, as well as the laws of 
nature and of nations. Thus, when the Supreme Being 
formed the universe, and created matter out of nothing, 
he impressed certain principles upon that matter, from 
which it can never depart, and without which it would 



cease to be. When he put that matter mto motion, he 
established certain laws of motion, to which all move- 
able bodies must conform.' — ' If we farther advance 
from mere inactive matter to vegetable and animal life, 

WE SHALL FIND THEM STILL GOVERNED BY LAWS ; 

more numerous, indeed, but equally fixed and invaria- 
ble. The whole progress of plants, from the seed to 
the root, and from thence to the seed again ; — the me- 
thod of animal nutrition, digestion, secretion, and all 
other branches of vital economy ; — are not left to chance, 
or the will of the creature itself, but are performed in a 
wondrous involuntary manner, and guided by unerring 
rules laid down by the great Creator. This, then, is 
the general signification of a law, a rule of action dic- 
tated by some superior being ; and in those creatures 
that have neither power to think, nor the will, such laws 
must be invariably obeyed, so long as the creature it- 
self subsists ; for its existence depends on that obe- 
dience. — Blackstone'' s Commentaries on the Laws of 
England, vol. i, sect. 2. 

' The word laio,'' says Mr Erskine, ' is frequently 
made use of, both by divines and philosophers, in a 
large acceptation, to express the settled method of God's 
providence, by which he preserves the order of the ma- 
terial WORLD in such a manner, that nothing hi it 
may deviate from that uniform course which he has ap- 
pointed for it. And as brute matter is merely passive, 
without the least degree of choice upon its part, these 
laios are inviolably observed in the material crea- 
tion, every part of which continues to act, immutably, 
according to the rules that were from the beginning 
prescribed to it hy infinite ivisdom. Thus philosophers 
have given the appellation of laio to that motion which 
incessantly pervades and agitates the universe, and is 
ever changing the form and substance of things, dis- 
solving some, and raising others, as from their ashes, 
to fill up the void : Yet so, that amidst all the fluctua- 
tions by which particular things are affected, the uni- 
verse is still preserved without diminution. Thus also 
they speak of the laws of fluids, of gravitation. Ace. 
and the word is used, in this sense, in several passages 
of the sacred writings; in the book of Job, and in 
Proverbs viii, 29, where God is said to have given his 
law to the seas that they should not pass his command- 
ment.' — Erskinc's Institutes of the Law of Scotland, 
book i, tit. i, sect. 1. 

Discussions about the Laws of Nature, rather than 
inquiries into them, were common in France, during 
the Revolution, and having become associated in ima- 
gination, with the crimes and horrors of that period, 
they continue to be regarded by some individuals, as 
inconsistent with religion and morality. A coincidence 
between the views maintained in the preceding Essay, 
and a passage in Volney, has been pointed out to me as 
an objection to the whole doctrine. Volney's words 
are the following : — ' It is a law of nature, that water 
flows from an upper to a lower situation ; that it seeks 
its level ; that it is heavier than air ; that all bodies tend 
towards the earth ; that flame rises towards the sky ; 
that it destroys the organization of vegetables and ani- 



66 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



mals ; that air is essential to the life of certain animals ; 
that, in certain cases, water suffocates and kills them ; 
that certain juices of plants, and certain minerals, at- 
tack their organs, and destroy their life ; — and the same 
of a variety of facts. 

' Now, since these facts, and many similar ones, are 
ionstant, regular, and immutable, they become so many 
•eal a,nd positive commands, to which man is bound to 
;onform, under the express penalty of punishment at- 
tached to their infraction, or well-being connected with 
their observance. So that if a man were to pretend to 
ice clearly in the dark, or is regardless of the progress 
Bf the seasons, or the action of the elements ; if he 
pretends to exist under water, without drowning ; to 
liandle fire without burning himself ; to deprive him- 
self of air without suffocating ; or to drink poison with- 
(«t destroying himself; he receives for each infraction 
v»f the law of nature, a corporal punishment propor- 
Jioncd to his transgression. If, on the contrary, he ob- 
•ervos these laws, and founds his practice on the pre- 
tfisc and regular relation which they bear to him, he 
preserves his existence, and renders it as happy as it is 
capable of being rendered ; and since all these laws, 
considered in relation to the human species, have in 
view only one common end, that of their preservation 
and their happiness ; whence it has been agreed to as- 
semble together the different ideas, and express them by 
a single word, and call them collectively by the name 
of the " Laio of Nature.'" — ^Volney's Law of Na- 
ture, 3d edit. pp. 21, 24. 

I feel no embarrassment by this coincidence ; but re- 
mark, first. That various authors, quoted in the text 
and in this note, advocated the importance of the laws 
of nature, long before the French Revolution was heard 
of; secondly. That the existence of the laws of nature 
is as obvious to the understanding, as the existence 
of the external world, and of the human mind and body 
themselves to the senses ; thirdly. That these laws, 
being inherent in creation, must have proceeded from 
the Deity ; fourthly. That if the Deity is powerful, 
just, ard benevolent, they must harmonize with the 
constitution of man ; and, lastly, That if the laws of 
nature have been instituted by the Deity, and been 
framed in wise, benevolent, and just relationship to 
the human constitution, they must at all times form the 
highest and most important subjects of human investi- 
gation, and remain altogether unaffected by the er- 
ror's, follies, and crimes of those who endeavour to ex- 
pound them ; just as religion continues holy, venerable, 
and uncontaminated, notwithstanding the hypocrisy, 
wickedness, and inconsistency of individuals professing 
themselves her interpreters and friends 

That the views of the natural laws themselves, ad- 
vocated in this Essay, are diametrically opposite to the 
practical conduct of the French revolutionary rufh.\T!r, 
requires no demonstration. My fundamental principle 
is, that man can enjoy happiness on earth only by 
placing his habitual conduct under the supremacy of 
the moral sentiments, and intellect, and that this is the 
law of his nature. No doctrine can be more opposed 
tiian this to fraud, robber)', blasphemy, and murder. 

It may be urged, that all past speculations about the 
laws of nature have proved more imposing than useful ; 
and that while the laws themselves afford materials for 
elevated declamation on the part of philosophers, they 
form no secure guides even to the learned, and much 
less to the illiterate, in practical conduct. In answer, 
I would respectfully repeat what has frequently been 
urged in the text, that, before we can discover the laws 
of nature, applicable to man, we must know, first, The 
constitution of man himself; secondly. The constitu- 
tion of external nature ; and, tliirdly, We must com- 
pare the two. But, previous to the discovery of Phre- 
nology, the mental constitution of man was a matter of 
vague conjecture, and endless debate ; and the con- 
RexioH between his mental powers and his organized 



system, was involved in the deepest obscuritv. The 
brain, the most important organ of the body, had no 
ascertained functions. Before the introduction of this 
science, therefore, men were rather impressed with the 
unspeakable importance of a knowledge of the laws of 
nature, than acquainted with the laws themselves ; and 
even the knowedge of the external world actually pos- 
sessed, could not, in many instances, be rendered 
available, on account of its relationship to the qualities 
of man being unascertained, and unasccrtainable, so 
long as these qualities themselves were unknown. 



NOTE II. 

ORGANIC LAWS. — Text, p. 21. 

It IS a very common error, not only among philoso- 
phers, but among practical men, to imagine that tho 
feelings of the mind are communicated to it through 
the medium of the intellect ; afid, in particular, that if 
no indelicate objects reach the eves, or expressions 
penetrate the ears, perfect purity will necessarily reign 
within the soul ; and, carrying this mistake into prac- 
tice, they are prone to object to all discussion of the 
subjects treated of under the ' Organic Laws,' in works 
designed for general use. But their principle of rea- 
soning is fallacious, and the practical result has been 
highly detrimental to society. The fcelmgs have ex- 
istence and activity distinct from the intellect; they 
spur it on to obtain their own gratification ; and it may 
become either their slave or guide, according as it is 
enlightened concerning their constitution and object^ 
and the laws of nature to which they are subjected. 
The most profound philosophers have inculcated this 
doctrine ; and, by phrenological observation, it is de- 
monstrably established. The organs of the feehngs 
are distinct from those of the intellectual faculties ; 
they are larger ; and, as each faculty, cateris paribus, 
acts with a power proportionate to the size of its organ, 
the feelings are obviously the active or impelling powers. 
The cerebellum, or organ of Amativeness, is the largest 
of the whole mental organs ; and, being endowed with 
natural activity, it fills the mind spontaneously with 
emotions and suggestions which may be directed, con- 
trolled, and resisted, in outvi'ard manifestation, by intel- 
lect and moral sentiment, but which cannot be pre- 
vented from arising, nor eradicated after they exist. 
The whole question, therefore, resolves itself into this, 
Whether it is most beneficial to enlighten and direct 
that feeling, or (under the influence of an error in phi- 
losophy, and false delicacy founded on it.) to permit it 
to riot in all the fierceness of a blind animal instinct, 
withdrawn from the eye of reason, but not thereby de- 
prived of its vehemence and importunity. The former 
course appears to me to be the only one consistent with 
reason and morality ; and I have adopted it in reliance 
on the good sense of my readers, that they will at once 
discriminate between practical instruction concerning 
this feeling, addressed to the intellect, and lascivious 
representations addressed to the mere propensity itself; 
with the latter of which the enemies of all improvement 
may attempt to confound my observations. Every 
function of the mind and body is instituted by the Cre- 
ator ; all may be abused ; and it is impossible regularly 
to avoid abuse of them, except by being instructed in 
their nature, objects, and relations. This instruction 
ought to be addressed exclusively to the intellect ; and, 
when it is so, it is science of the most beneficial de- 
scription. The propriety, nay necessity, of acting on 
this principle, becomes more and more apparent, when 
it is considered that the discussions of the text suggest 
only intellectual ideas to individuals in whom the feel- 
ing in question is naturally weak, and that such minds 
perceive no indelicacy in knowledge which is calcu- 
lated to be useful ; while, on the other hand, persons 
in whom the feeling is naturally strong, are precisely 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



57 



those who stand in need of direction, and to whom, of 
all others, instruction is the most necessary. 

Fortified by thtse observations, I venture to record 
some additional facts communicated by persons on 
whose accuracy reliance may be placed. 

A gentleman, who has paid much attention to the 
rearing of horses, informed me, that the male race- 
horse, when excited, but not exhausted, by running, 
has been found by experience, to be in the most favour- 
able condition for transmitting swiftness and vivacity 
to his offspring. Another gentleman stated, that he 
was himself present when the pale gray colour of a 
male horse was objected to ; that the groom thereupon 
presented before the eyes of the male another female 
from the stable, of a very particular, but pleasing, va- 
riety of colours, asserting, that the latter would deter- 
mine the complexion of the offspring ; and that in point 
of fact it did so. The experiment was tried in the case 
of a second female, and the result was so completely 
the same, that the two "young horses, in point of colour, 
could scarcely be distinguished, although their spots 
were extremely uncommon. The account of Laban 
and the peeled rods laid before the cattle to produce 
spotted calves, is an example of the same kind. 

Portal mentions the hereditary descent of blindness 
and deafness. His words are : ' Morgagni has seen 
three sisters dumb " cforigine.^ Other authors also 
cite examples, and I have seen like cases myself In 
a note, he adds, ' I have seen three children out of four 
of the same family blind from birth by amaurosis, or 
giifta screna.'' — Portal, Memoires swr Plusieurs Mala- 
dies, tome iii, p. 193. Paris, 1808. 

In the Quarterly Journal of Agriculture, No. I, there 
are several valuable articles illustrative of the Organic 
Laws in the inferior animals. I select the following 
examples : 

' Every one know^ that the hen of any bird will lay 
eggs although no male be permitted to come near her ; 
and that those eggs are only wanting in the vital prin- 
ciple which the impregnation of the male conveys to 
them. Here, then, we see the female able to make an 
egg, with yolk and white, shell and every part, just as 
it ought to be, so that we might, at the first glance, 
suppose that here, at all events, the female has the 
greatest influence. But see the change which the male 
produces. Put a Bantam cock to a large sized hen 
and she will instantly lay a small egg ; the chick will 
be short, in the leg, have feathers to the foot, and put 
On the appearance of the cock ; so that it is a frequent 
complaint where Bantams are kept, that thev make the 
hens lay small eggs, and spoil the breed. Reverse the 
case; put a large dung-hill cock to Bantam hens, and 
instantly they will lay larger eggs, and the chicks will 
be good-sized birds, and the Bantam will have nearly 
disappeared. Here, then, are a number of facts known 
to every one, or at least open to be known by every 
one, clearly proving the influence of the male in some 
animals ; and as I hold it to be an axiom that nature 
never acts by contraries, never outrages the law clearly 
fixed in one species, by adopting the opposite course 
in another, — therefore, as in the case of an equilateral 
triangle on the length of one side being given we can 
with certainty demonstrate that of the remaining ; so, 
having found these laws to exist in one race of animals, 
we are entitled to assume that every species is sub- 
^ jected to the self-same rules, — the whole bearing, in 
fact, the same relation to each other as the radii of a 
circle.' 

* A Method of obtaining a greater numher of One Sex, 
at Ihe option of the Proprietor, in the Breeding of 
Live Stock. — Extracted from the Quarterly Journal 
of Agriculture, No. I, p. 63. 

'In the Aimales de TAgricuhureFranyaise, vols. 37, 
and 38, some very interesting experiments are record- 
ed, which have lately been made in France, on the 



Breeding of Live Stock. M. Charles Girou do Buza- 
reingues proposed, at a meeting of the Agricultural 
Society of Severac, on the 3d of July, 182fi, to divide 
a flock of sheep into two equal parts, so that a greater 
number of males or females, at the choice of the pro- 
prietor, should be produced from each of them. Two 
of the members of the Society offered their flocks to 
become the subjects of his experiments, and the results 
have now been communicated, which are in accordance 
with the author's expectations. 

' The first experiment was conducted in the following 
manner : He recommended very young rams to be 
put to the flock of ewes, from which the proprietor 
wished the greater number of females in their offspring ; 
and, also, that during the season when the rams were 
with the ewes, they should have more abundant pas- 
ture than the other ; while, to the flock from which the 
proprietor wished to obtain male lambs chiefly, he recom- 
mended him to put strong and vigorous rams four or 
five years old. The following tabular view contains 
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'The second experiment is thus related by tL« au- 
thor : 

' During the summer of 1826, M. Cournucioiil.s kept, 
upon a very dry pasture, belonging to the village of 
Bez, a flock of 106 ewes, of which 84 belonged to 
himself, and 22 to his shepherds. Towards the end 
of October, he divided his flock into two sections, of 
42 heads each, the one composed of the strongest 
ewes, from four to five years old; the other of the 
weakest beasts under four or above five years old. 
The first was destined to produce a greater number of 
females than the second. After it vi'as marked with, 
pitch in my presence, it was taken to much better pas- 
ture behind Panouse, where it was delivered to four 
male lambs, about six months old, and of good promise. 
The second remained upon the pasture of Bez, and 
was served by two strong rams, more than three years 
old. 

'The ewes belonging to the shepherds, which I shall 
consider as forming a third section, and which are in 
general stronger and better fed than those of the mas- 
ter, because their owners are not always particular in 
preventing them from trespassing on the cultivated 
lands, which arc not enclosed, v.'cre mixed with those 
0*" th< second flock. The result was that the 



58 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



Males. Females. 
First section gave, .... 15 25 

The second, 26 14 

Thetliird, 10 13 

In the First section there were Two 

Twin Births, 4 

In the Second and Third there were 

also Two, 3 1 

* Besides these very decisive experiments, M. Girou 
relates some others, made with horses and cattle, in 
which his success in producing a greater number of one 
sex rather than another also appears. The general 
law, as far as we are able to detect it, seems to be, that, 
when animals are in good condition, plentifully suppli- 
ed with food, and kept from breeding as fast as they 
might do, they are most likely to produce females. Or, 
in other words, when a race of animals is in circum- 
stances favourable for its increase, nature produces the 
greatest number of that sex which in animals that do 
not pair, is most efficient for increasing the numbers of 
the race : But, if they are in a bad climate, or on stint- 
ed pasture, or, if they have already given birth to a nu- 
merous offspring, then nature, setting limits to the in- 
crease of the race, produces more males than females. 
Yet, perhaps, it may be premature to attempt to deduce 
any law from experiments which have not yet been suf- 
ficiently extended. M. Girou is disposed to ascribe 
much of the effect to the age of the ram, independent 
of the condition of the ewe.' 



Note III. 



DEATH. — Text, p. 35. 
The decreasing Mortality of England is strikingly 
supported by the following extract from the Scotsman 
of 16lh April 1828. It is well known that this paper 
is edited by Mr Charles Maclaren, a gentlemen whose 
extensive information, and scrupulous regard to accu- 
racy and truth, stamp the highest value on his state- 
ments of facts : and whose profound and comprehensive 
intellect warrants a vvell-grounded reliance on his phi- 
losophical conclusions. 

'Diminished Mortality in Exglanb. The dimi- 
nution of the annual mortality in England amidst an 
alleged increase of crime, misery, and pauperism, is an 
extraordinary and startling fact, which merits a more 
careful investigation than it has received. We have 
not time to go deeply into the subject : but we shall 
offer a remark or two on the question, how the apparent 
annual mortality is affected by the introduction of the 
cow-pox, an 1 the stationary or progressive state of the 
population. In 1780, according to Mr Rickman, the 
annual deaths were 1 in 40, or one-fortieth part of the 
population died every year ; in 1821, the proportion 
was ] in 58. It follows, that, out of any given number of 
persons, 1000 or 10,000 scarcely more than two deaths 
take place now for three that took place in 1780, or the 
mortality has diminished 45 per cent. The parochial 
registers of burials in England, from which this state- 
ment is derived, are kno-.vn to be incorrect, but as they 
continue to be kept without alteration in the same way, 
the errors for one year, are justly conceived to balance 
those of another, and they thus afford comparative re- 
sults upon which considerable reliance may be placed. 

A community is ma'de up of persons of manv various 
arrcs among whom the law of mortality is very different. 
Thus, according to the Swedish tables, the deaths 
among children from the moment of birth up to 10 years 
if age, are 1 in 22 per annum ; from 10 to 20, the 
•leaths are only 1 in 185. Among the old again, mortali- 
ty is of course great. From 70 to 80, the deaths are 1 
in 9 ; from SO to 90, they are 1 in 4. Now a commu- 
nity like that of New York or Ohio, where marriages 
are made early and the births are numerous, necessarily 



contains a large proportion of young persons, among 
whom the proportional mortality is low, and a small 
proportion of the old who die off rapidly. A communi- 
ty in which the births are numerous, is like a regiment 
receiving a vast number of a young and healthy recruits 
and in which, of course, as a whole, the annual deaths 
will be few compared with those in another regiment 
chiefly filled with veterans, though among rhe persons 
at any particular age, such as 20, 40, or 50, the mortal- 
ity will be as great in the one regiment as the other. 
It may thi;s happen, that the annual mortality among 
1000 persons in Ohio maybe considerably less than in 
France, while the Expectation of Life, or the chance 
which an individual has to reach to a certain age, may 
be no greater in the former country than in the latter ; 
and hence we see that a diminutioii in the rate of mor- 
tality is not a certain proof of an increase in the value 
of life, or an improvement in the condition of the 
people. 

But the effect produced by an increased number of 
births is less than might be imagined, owing to the very 
great mortality among infants in the first year of their 
age. Not having time for the calculations necessary 
to get at the precise result, which are pretty comple.x, 
we avail ourselves of some statements given by Mr. 
Milne in his work on Annuities. Taking the Swedish 
tables as a basis, and supposing the law of mortality to 
remain the same for each period of life, he hav compar- 
ed the proportional number of deaths in a population 
which is stationary, and in one which increases 15 per 
cent, in 20 years. The result is, that when the mor- 
tality in the stationary society is 07ie in 36. 13, that in 
the progressive society is one in 37. 33, a difference 
equal to 3 1-3 per cent. Now, the population of Eng- 
land and Wales increased 34.3 per cent, in the 20 years 
ending in 1821, but in the interval from 1811 to 1821. 
the rate was equivalent to 39 1-4 per cent, wpon 20 
years ; and the apparent diminution of mortalitv arising 
from this circumstance must of course have been about 
8 1-2 per cent. We are assuming, however, that the 
population was absolutely stationary at 180, which was 
not the case. According to Mr Milnes (p. 437.) the 
average annual increase in the five years ending 1784, 
was 1 in 155 ; in the ten years ending 1821, according 
to the census, it was 1 in 60. Deducting, then, the 
proportional part corresponding to the former, which is 
3 1-4 there remains 5 1-4. If Mr Milne's tables, there- 
fore, are correct, we may infer that the progressive 
state of the population causes a diminution of 5 1-4 per 
cent, in the annual mortality — a diminution which is 
only apparent, because it arises entirely from the great 
proportion of births, and is not accompanied with any 
real increase in the value of human life. 

' A much greater change — not apparent but real — 
was produced by the introduction of the vaccination in 
1798. It was computed, that, in 1795, when the popu 
lation of the British Isles was 15, 000,000, the deaths 
produced by the small-pox amounted to 36,000, or 
nearly 11 per cent, of the whole animal mortality. (See 
article Vaccination in the Supplement to Encylopedia 
Brittanica, p. 713.) Now, since not more than one case 
in 330 terminates fatally under the cow-pox system, 
either directly by the primary infec ion, or from the 
other disease supervening : the whole of the young 
persons destroyed by the small-pox might he considered 
as saved were vaccination universal, andalvva/s proper- 
ly performed. This is not precisely the case, but one.* 
or one and a-half per cent, will cover the deficiencies ; 
and we may therefore conclude, that vaccination has 
diminished the annual mortality fully nine per cent. 
After we had arrived at this conclusion by the process 
described, we found it confirmed by the authority of Mi 
Milne, who estimates in a note to one of his tables, that 
the mortality of 1 in 40, would be diminished to 1 in 43 
— 5, by exterminating the small-pox. Now, this is 
almost precisely 9 per cent. 



CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



59 



♦We stated, that the diminution of the annual mor- 
tality between 1780 and 1821 was 45 per cent., accord- 
ing to Mr Rickman. If we deduct this from 9 per cent, 
for the effect of vaccination, and 5 per cent, as only 
apparent, resulting from the increasnig proportion of 
births — 31 per cent, remains, which, ice apprehend, can 
only be accounted for by an improvement in the habits, 
morals, arid physical condition of the people. Inde- 
pendently, then, of the two causes alluded to, the value 
of human life since 1780, has increased in a ratio which 
would diminish the annual mortality from 1 in 40 to 1 
in 52 1-2, — a fact which is indisputably of great impor- 
tance, and worth volumes of declamation in illustrating 
the true situation of the labouring classes. We have 
founded our conclusion on data derived entirely from 
English returns ; but there is no doubt that it applies 
equally to Scotland. It is consoling to find, from this 
very unexceptionable species of evidence, that though 
there is much privation and suffering in the country, the 
situation of the people has been, on the whole, progres- 
sively improving during the last forty years. But how 
much greater would the advance have been, had they 
been less taxed, and better treated 1 and how much 
room is there still for future melioration, by spreading 
instruction, amending our laws, lessening the temp- 
tations to crime, and improving the means of correction 
and reform 1 In the mean time it ought to be some en- 
couragement to philanthropy to learn that it has not 
to struggle against invincible obstacles, and that even 
when the prospect was least cheering to the eye, its ef- 
forts were silently benefitting society.' 

It has been mentioned to nie, that the late Dr Mon- 
ro, in his anatomical lectures, stated, that, as far as he 
could observe, the human body as a machine, was per- 
fei t. — that it bore within itself no marks by which we 
could possibly predicate its decay, — that it was appa- 
rently calculated to go on for ever, — and that we learn- 
ed only by experience that it would not do so ; and 
some persons have conceived this to be an authority 
against the doctrine maintained in Chap. Til, Sect. 2, 
that death is apparently inherent in organization. In an- 
swer, I beg to observe, that if we were to look at the 
sun only for one moment of time, say at noon, no cir- 
cumstance, in its appearance would indicate that it had 
ever risen, or that it would ever set ; but, if we had 
traced its progress from the horizon to the meridian, 
and down agam till the long shadows of evening pre- 
vailed, we should have ample grounds for inferring, 
that, if the same causes that had produced these 
changes continued to operate, it would undoubtedly at 
length disappear. In the same way, if we were to con- 
fine our observations on the human body to a mere 
point of time, it is certain that, from the appearances of 
that moment, we could not infer that it had grown up, 
by gradual increase, or that it would decay ; but this is 
the case only, because our faculties are not fitted to 
penetrate into the essential nature and dependences of 
things. Any man, who had seen the body decrease in 
old age, could, without hesitation, predicate, that, if the 
same causes which had produced that effect went on 
operating, dissolution would at last inevitably occur ; 
and if his Causality were well developed, he would not 
hesitate to say that a cause of the decrease and disso- 
lution must exist, although he could not tell by examin- 
ing the body what it was. By analysing alcohol, no 
person could predicai;e, independently of experience, 
that it would produce intoxication ; and nevertheless, 
there must be a cause in the constitution of the alcohol, 
in that of the body, and in the relationship between 
them, why it produces this effect. The motion, there- 
fore, of Dr Monro, does not prove that death is not an 
essential law of organization, but only that the human 
faculties are not able, by di.ssection, to discover that 
the cause of it is inherent in the bodily constflution it- 
•elf. It does not follow however, that this inference | 



may not be legitimately drawn from phenomena collect* 
ed from the whole period of corporeal existence. 



Note IV. 

INFRINGEMENT OP THE MORAL LAWS. Text, p. 44. 

The deterioration of the operative classes of Britain 
which I attribute to excessive labour, joined with great 
alternations of high and low wages, and occasionalW 
with absolute idleness and want, is illustrated by the 
following extracts : — 

'Unemployed Weavers in Lanarkshire. On 
Saturday last, a meeting of weavers' delegates from the 
various districts in this neighbourhood, was held in the 
usual place. The object of the meeting was to receive 
from the several districts an account of the number of 
weavers out of employment, which statement it was 
intended to lay before the Lord Provost and Magis- 
trates. The following are- the returns given in : — An- 
derston contains 708 looms, of "Vhich 386 are idle. 
Baillieston-toll contains 150 looms, of these 98 are 
empty. The district of North Bridgeton contains, in 
whole, between 400 and 500 looms. The returns are 
only from about one half of this district, which con- 
tains 150 empty looms. For the centre and south dis- 
tricts of Bridgeton, the accounts are incomplete. In 
the former 180 and in the latter 60 empty looms were 
taken up. In Charleston there are 132 idle. In 
Cowcaddens, of 300 looms,- 120 are idle. In Clyde,Bell, 
and Tobago Streets, of about 500 looms, there are 74 idle ; 
and 100 working webs which cannot average 7d. a-day. 
In Drygate, there are 105 idle ; In Drygate-toU 73; in 
Duke Street 18. In Gorbals,containing 365 looms, there 
are 223 idle. In Havannah, out of 130 looms, there 
are 48 idle. In the district of Keppoch-hill, of 70 
weavers, there are 20 idle. The district of King 
Street is divided into ten wards ; returns are only given 
in from four, which contain 70 empty looms. In Pol- 
lockshaws, containing about 800 looms.there are 2 1 6 idle. 
In Rutherglen there are 167 idle. In Springbank, >of 
141 weavers, there are 58 unemployed ; and in Strath- 
bungo, containing 104 looms, there are 28 idle, 25 
of whom are married men. Parkhead, Camlachie, and 
some other extensive districts, have not yet given in their 
returns. The delegates, before separating, appointed 
a general meeting to be held in the Green this day. 
to decide upon an address to the Magistrates, request- 
ing them to endeavour to procure employment for the 
idle hands. ' — Glasgovj Chronicle, Tuesday, March, 1 826. 

' Sheep Trade. The late commercial crisis, like 
a death-blow, has paralysed the whole activity of the 
country, and left scarcely a single branch of its trade 
and industry unscathed. It was at first fondly hoped 
that the storm would pass without such remote dis- 
tricts as our own having much reason to complain of its 
visitation ; but nothing, as the present instance proves, 
is more certain than that the distresses of the commer- 
cial, must also in all cases be more or less felt by the 
agricultural classes of the community. The demand 
for wool has now so far ceased as to operate most in- 
juriously upon the price of sheep, which cannot present- 
ly be sold but at a very considerable loss to the far- 
mer. In the latter part, or "back season," as it is 
called, of 1824, black-faced ewes — their example applies 
equally to the other kinds — were bought in for winter- 
ing at from 8s. to 12s. a head ; and in the spring of 
1825, immediately before lambing-time, these were dis- 
posed of in the English markets at so great a profit, that 
every farmer who could at all enter into the specula- 
tion, bought up at the end of the ensuing harvest, as 
much of that description of stock as his quantity of 
keep would reasonably permit. The number of sheep 
over those of the preceding year, which were bought 
up for this purpose, may be judged of from the fact, 
that the highest inlay price of 1824 was the lowest of 



60 



^ CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



1825 — the rate for the latter year being, for black-faced 
ewes, from 123 to 18. But the present crisis came, 
— the manufacturers of England were obliged to re- 
trench at meals in the article of mutton, — the demand 
on the pari of the butchers consequently ceased ; and 
now those sheep which were purchased at so extrava- 
gant a rate, are necessarily sold, upon an average, at a 
loss of 2s. a-head upon the inlay price, without at all 
estimating the expense of keep. We know one ex- 
tensive moorland farmer, who calculates upon losing 
two hundred poands in the present year from this 
cause alone, besides a vast loss which he must also 
sustain in consequence of the reduced price of wool. 
This cessation of demand in England was unfortunate- 
ly not fully ascertained until several droves of lambing 
ewes had been despatched to that quarter ; and the 
embarrassment of those who are placed in this predica- 
ment is the more afflicting, as their knowledge has 
been acquired too late to allow of their availing them- 
selves of the House of Muir, and other northern mar- 
kets.' — Dumfries Courier, March, 1826. 

' Detai.'s u-pon the Subject of Weavers^ Wages, from 
the last Re/wt of emigration extracted from the Scots- 
man Newspaper, oflOth November, 1827. 

' Joseph Foster a weaver, and one of the deputies of 
an emigration society in Glasgow, states that the la- 
bour is all paid by the piece ; the hours of working 
are various, sometimes eighteen or nineteen out of 
twenty-four, and even all night once or twice a-week ; 
and that the wages made by such labour, after deduct- 
ing the necessary expenses, will not amount to more 
than from 4s. 6d. to fs. per week, some kinds of work, 
paying better than others. When he commenced work- 
ms as a weaver, from 1800 to 1805, the same amount 
of labour that now yields 4s. 6d. to 5fe. would have yield- 
ed 20s. There are about 11,000 hand-looms going in 
Glasgow and its suburbs, some of which are worked by 
boys and girls, and he estimates the average net earn- 
ings of each hand-weaver at 5s 6d. The principle sub- 
sistence of the weavers is oatmeal and potatoes, with 
occasionally some salt herring. 

' Major Thomas Moodie, who had made careful in- 
quiries into the state of the poor at Manchester, states, 
that the calico and other light plain work at Bolton and 
Blackburn, vields the weaver from 4s. to 5s. per week, 
by fourteen hours of daily labour. In the power-loom 
work, one man attends two looms, and earns from 7s. 6d. 
to 14s. per week, according to the fineness of ihe work. 
He understood that during the last ten years, weavers' 
wages had fallen on an average about 15s. per week. 

' Mr Thomas Hunton, manufacturer, Carlisle, states, 
that there are in Carlisle and its neighbourhood about 
5500 families, or from 18,000 to 20,000 persons depen- 
dent on weaving. They are all hand-weavers, and are 
now in a very depressed state, in consequence of the 
increase of power-loom and factory weaving* in Man- 
chester and elsewhere. Taking fifteen of his men, he 
finds that five of them, who are employed on the best 
work, had earned 5s. 6d. per week for the preceding 
month deducting the necessary expenses of loom-rent, 
candles, tackling, &c. ; the next five, who are upon 
work of the second quality, earned 3s. lid.; and the 
third five earned 3s. 7 l-2per week. They work from 
fourteen to sixteen hours a-day, and live chiefly on po- 
Utoes, butter-milk, and herrings. 

' Mr W. H. Hyett, Secretary to the Charity Com- 
mittee in London, gives a detailed statement, to show, 
that in the Hundred of Blackburn, comprising a popula- 
tion of 150.000 persons, 90,000 were out of employ- 
ment in 1826 ! In April last, when he gave his evidence 
before the Committee, these persons had generally 

* In what is railed factory weaving, an impvnved species of 
hand-lofim is employed, in wliich the dressing and preparation 
of the weh is effected by machinery, and the weaver merely sits 
•nd drives the shuttle. 

THE 



found work again, but at very low wages. They were 
labouring from twelve to fourteen hours a-day, and 
gaining from 4s. to 5s. 6d. per week.' 

' Poor Rates, 28th March, 1828. — A document oi 
great importance, though of a description by no means 
cheering, has been presented to the House of Com- 
mons, — the annual Abstract of the Returns of the Poor 
Rates levied and expended, with comparisons, showing 
their increase or diminution. The accounts show the 
expenditure of the year ending 25th March, 1827, com- 
pared with the previous year. The total sum levied in 
all the counties of England and Wales, in the last vear, 
was .£7,489,694 ; the sum expended for the relief of 
the poor, £6,179,877. The increase in that year 
throughout the whole of England and Wales, is nine 
per cent ; nine per cent, in one year on the whole sum 
expended. It is true that this is in part to be accounted 
for by the temporary distress of the manufacturing dis- 
tricts. (In Lancaster, the increase was fort3'-seven, in 
the West Riding of York, thirty-one per cent ; ) but 
we are sorry to find, that in only three counties of Eng- 
land was there any the most trifling diminution. In 
Berks two, Hampshire five, Suffolk four per cent. The 
poor rates in England, therefore, amount to nearly dou- 
ble the whole landed rental of Scotland.' 

' Extract from the Lord- Advocate^ s Speech in the House 
of Commons, Wth March, 1828, on the additional 
Circuit Court of Glasgow. 

' The Lord-Advocate, in rising to move for leave to 
bring in a bill to " authorize an additional Court of Jus- 
ticiary to be held at Glasgow, and to facilitate criminal 
trial in Scotland," said he did not anticipate any oppo- 
sition to the motion. A great deal had been said of 
the progress of crime in this country, but he was sorry 
to say crime in Scotland had kept pace with that in- 
crease. A return had been made of the number of 
criminal commitments in each year, so far back as the 
year 1805. In that year the number of criminal com- 
mitments for all Scotland amounted only to 85. In 
1809 it had risen to between 200 and 300 ; in 1819 — 
20, it had increased to 400 ; and by the last return, it 
appeared, that, in 1827, 661 persons had been commit- 
ted for trial. He was inclined to think, that the great m- 
crease of crime, particularly in the west of Scotland, 
was attributable, in no small degree, to the number of 
Irish who daily and weekly arrived there. He did not 
mean to say that the Irish themselves were in the habit 
of committing more crime than their neighbours ; but 
he was of opinion, that their numbers tended to reduce 
the price of labour, and that an increase of crime was 
the consequence. Another cause was the great disre- 
gard manifested by parents for the moral education of 
their children. Formerly the people of Scotland were 
remarkable for the paternal care which they took of 
their oflfspring. That had ceased in many instances to 
be the case. Not only were parents found who did not 
pay attention to the welfare of their children, but who 
were actually parties to their criminal pursuits, and par- 
ticipated in the fruits of their unlawful ])rocee(lings. 
When crime was thus on the increase, it was necessary 
to take measures for its speedy punishment. The great 
city of Glasgow, which contained 150,000 inhabitants, 
and to which his proposed measure was meant chiefly 
to apply, stood greatly in need of some additional juris- 
diction. This would appear evident, when it was con- 
sidered that the court which met there for the trial of 
capital offences, had also to act in the districts of Reti- 
frew, Lanark, and Diinbarton. In 1812, the whole 
number of criminals tried in Glasgow was only 31 ; in 
1820, it was S3 ; in 1823, it was 85 ; and in 1827, 211. 
— The learned lord concluded by moving for leave to 
brinor in a bill to authorize an additional circuit court of 
justiciary to be held at Glascrow. and to facilitate crimi- 
nal trial in Scotland.' 



CONTENTS OF THE CONSTITUTION OF MAN. 



CHAPTER I. 

OH NATURAL LAWS, . . . .3 

CHAPTER n. 

OF THE CONSTITUTION OF MAN, AND ITS RELATIONS TO EXTERNAL OBJECTS, .... 6 

Sect. I. Man considered as a Physical Being, ......... 7 

n. Man considered as an Organized Being, . . . . . . . . .7 

III. Man considered as an Animal — Moral — and Intellectual Being, ..... 8 

IV. The Faculties of Man compared with each other ; or the supremacy of the Moral Sen- 
mentsand Intellect, ....... ..... 10 

V. The Faculties of Man compared with External Objects, 14 

VI. On the sources of Human Happiness, and the conditions requisite for maintaining it, 16 
VII. Application of the Natural Laws to the practical arrangements of Life, . . .19 

CHAPTER III. 

TO WHAT EXTENT ARE THE MISERIES OF MANKIND REFERABLE TO INFRINGEMENTS OF THE LAWS OF 

NATURE, . . 21 

Sect. I. Calamities anising from infringemonts of the Physical Laws, . . . . .21 
II. On the Evils that befall Mankind from the infringement of the Organic Laws, . . 22 

III. Calamities arising from infringement of the Moral Law, 38 

IV. Moral advantages of Punishment, 47 

CHAPTER IV. 

ON THE COMBINED OPERATION OF THE NATURAL LAWS, 48 

CONCLUSION, 53 

APPENDIX. 

Note I. Natural Laws, 5.5 

II. Organic Laws, ............. 56 

III. Death — Decreasing Mortality, , . - 5S 

IV Moral Law, . . , , . - . S9 



ESSAYS 



SERIES OF LETTEES, 

ON THE FOLLOWING SUBJECTS: 

ON A MAN'S WRITING MEMOIRS OF HIMSELF. 

ON DECISION OF CHARACTER. 

ON THE APPLICATION OF THE EPITHET ROMANTIC. 

ON SOME OF THE CAUSES 

BY WHICH EVANGELICAL RELIGION HAS BEEN 

RENDERED LESS ACCEPTABLE TO PERSONS 

OF CULTIVATED TASTE. 



BY JOHN FOSTER, 

AUTHOE OF ' GLORY OF THE AQE,' .<kc. 



HARTFORD: 

PUBLISHED BY SILAS ANDRUS & SON. 
1854. 



AUTHOR'S PREFA.CE. 



Perhaps it will be tlicught that pieces written so 
much in tlie manner of set compositions as the follow- 
in<T, should not have been denominated Letters ; it may, 
therefore, be proper to say, that they are so called be- 
cause they were actually addressed to a friend. They 
were written, however, with the intention to print them, 
if, when they were finished, the writer could persuade 
himself that they deserved it ; and the character of 
authors is too well known for any one to be surprised 
that he could persuade himself of this. 

A'^Tien he began these letters, his intention was to 
confine himself within such limits, that essays on twelve 
or fifteen subjects might have been comprised in a vo- 
lume. But he soon found that an interesting subject 
could not be so fully unfolded as he wished, in such a 
narrow space. It appeared to him that many things, 
which would be excluded, as much belonged to the 
purpose of the essay as those which would be intro. 
duced. 

It will not seem a very natural manner of commenc- 
ing a course of letters to a friend to enter formally on 
a subject, in the first sentence. In excuse for this ab- 
ruptness it .may be mentioned, that an introductory let- 
ter went before that which appears first in the series ; 
but as it was written in the presumption that a consid- 
erable variety of subjects would be treated in the com- 
pass of a moderate number of letters, it is omitted, as 
being less adapted to precede what is executed in a 
manner so different from the design. 

When writing which has occupied a considerable 
length, and has been interrupted by considerable inter- 
vals, of time, which is also on very different subjects, 
and was, perhaps, meditated under the influence of dif- 
ferent circumstances, is at last all read over in one 
abort space, this immediate succession and close com- 
parison make the writer sensible of some things of 
which he was not aware in the slow separate stages of 
his progress. On thus bringing the following essays 
tinder one review, the vvrriter perceives some reason to 
apprehend that the spirit of the third may appear so 
different from that of the second as to give an impres- 
sion of something like inconsistency. The second may 
seem to represent that a man may effect almost every 
thing ; the third, that he can effect scarcely any thing. 
The writer, however, persuades himself that the one 
docs not assert the efficacy of human resolution and 



effort under the same conditions under which the othw 
asserts then- inefficacy ; and that, therefore, there is 
no real contrariety between the principles of the two 
essays. From the evidence of history and familial 
experience we know that uncler certain conditions, and 
within certain limits, (very contracted ones indeed,) an 
enlightened and resolute human spirit has great power, 
this greatness being relative, of course, to the measures 
of things within a small sphere ; while it is equally 
obvious that this enlightened and resolute spirit, disre- 
garding these conditions, and attempting to extend its 
agency over a much wider sphere, shall find its power 
baffled and annihilated, till it draws back agam within 
tne contracted boundary. Now the great power of the 
human mind within the narrow limit may be distinctly 
illustrated at one time, and its impotence beyond that 
limit, at another ; but the assemblage of sentiments 
and exemplifications most adapted to illustrate, and 
without any very material exaggeration, that power 
alone, will form apparently so strong a contrast with 
the assemblage of thoughts and facts proper for illus- 
trating that imbecility alone, that on a superficial view 
the twK) representations may appear contradictorv. And 
the author appeals to the experience of such thinking 
men as are accustomed to commit their thoughts to 
writing, whether they have not sometimes, on compa- 
ring the pages in which they had endeavoured to place 
one truth in the strongest 'ight, with those in which 
they have endeavoured a strong but yet not extravagant 
exhibition of another, felt a momentary difficulty to re- 
concile them, even while satisfied of the substantia! 
justness of both. The whole doctrine on any exten- 
sive moral subject necessarily includes two views which 
may be considered as its extremes ; and if these ara 
strongly stated quite apart from their relations to each 
other, both the representations may be perfectly tnae, 
and yet may require, in order to the readers perceiving 
their consistency, a recollection of many intermediate 
ideas. 

In the fourth essay, it was not intended to take 3 
comprehensive or systematic view of the causes con- 
tributing to prevent the candid attention and the cordial 
admission due to evangelical religion, but sim[)ly to se 
lect a very few which had particularly attracted the au- 
thor's observation. One or two more would have been 
•specified and slightly illustrated, if that the essay had 
not been already too long. 



ESSAY I. 



ON A MAN'S WRITING MEMOIRS OF HIMSELF 



LETTER I. 

Jijlfecttonate Interest with which we revert to our past Life — 
It deserves a brief Record for our own use — Very few 
things to be noted of the Multitude thai- have occurred — 
Direction and Uxe of such a Review as would be required 
for writing a Memoir — Importance of our post Life con- 
sidered as the Beginning of an endless Duration of Exis- 
tence — General Deficiency of Self-Observation — Oblivion 
of the greatest number if our past Feelings — Occasional 
Glimpses of vivid Recollection — Association's with Things 
and Places — The different and unknown Associations of 
different Persons with the same Places. 

HY DEAR FRIEND, 

Every one knows with what interest it is natural to 
retrace the course of our own lives. . The past states 
and periods of a man's being are retained in a connex- 
ion with the present by that principle of self-love, which 
is unwilling to relinquish its hold on what has once 
been his. Though he cannot but be sensible of how 
little consequence his life can have been in the crea- 
tion, compared v/ith many other trains of events, yet he 
has felt it more important to himself than all other 
trains together ; and you will very rarely find him 
tired of narrating again the little history, or at least 
the favorite parts of the little history, of himself. 

To turn this partiality to some account, I recollect 
having proposed to two or three of my friends that 
they should write, each principally however for his 
own use, memoirs of their own lives, endeavouring 
not so much to enumerate the mere facts and events 
of life, as to discriminate the successive states of the 
mind, and the progress of character. It is in this 
progress that we acknowledge the chief importance of 
life to consist : but even as supplying a constant series 
of interests to the passions, and separately from every 
consideration of moral and intellectual discipline, we 
have all accounted our life an inestimable possession, 
which it deserved incessant cares and labours to retain, 
and which continues in most cases to be still held with 
anxious attachment. What has been the object of so 
much partiality, and has been delighted and painted by 
so many emotions, might claim, even if the highest in- 
terest were out of the question, that a short memorial 
should be retained by him who has possessed it, has 
seen it all to this moment depart, and can never recal it. 

To write memoirs of many years, as twenty, thirty, 
or forty, seems, at the first glance, a ponderous task. 
To reap the products of so many acres of earth indeed 
miglu, to one person, be an undertaking of mighty toil. 
But the materials of any value that all past life can 
supply to a recording pen, would be reduced by a dis- 
'cerning selection to a very small and modest amount. 
Would as much as one page of moderate size be 
deemed by any man's self importance to be due, on an 
average, to each of the days that he has lived"! No 
man would judge more than one in ten thousand of all 
his tho'ights, sayings, and actions, worthy to be men-, 
tioned, if memory were capable of recalling them. 

No. 17. 



Necessarily a very large portion of what has occupied 
the successive years of life was of a kind to be utterly 
useless for a history of it ; because it was, merely for 
the accommodation of the time. Perhaps in the space 
of forty years, millions of sentences are proper to be 
uttered, and many thousands of affairs requisite to be 
transacted, or oi journeys to be performed, which it 
would be ridiculous to record. Thevare akind of ma- 
terial for the common expenditure and waste of the 
day. And yet it is often by a detail of this subordi- 
nate economy of life, that the works of fiction, the nar- 
ratives of age, the journals of travellers, and even grave 
biographical accounts, are made so unreasonably long. 
As well might a chronicle of the coats that a man has 
worn, with the colour and date of each, be called his 
life, for any important uses of relating its history. As 
well might a man, of whom I inquire the dimensions, 
the internal divisions, and the use, of some remarkable 
building, begin to tell me how much wood was em- 
ployed in the scaffolding, where the mortar was prepared, 
or how often it rained while the work was proceeding. 

But, in a deliberate review of all that we can re- 
member of past life, it will be possible to select a cer- 
tain proportion which may with the most i)ropriety be 
deemed the history of the man. What I am recom- 
mending is, to follow the order of time, and reduce 
your recollections, from the earliest period, to the pres- 
ent, into as simple a statement and explanation as vou 
can, of your feelings, opinions, and habits, and of the 
principal circumstances through each stage that have 
influenced them, till they have become at last what 
thev now are. 

Whatever tendencies nature may justly be deemed 
to have imparted in the first instance, you would prob- 
ably find the greater part of the moral constitution of 
your being composed of the contributions of manv years 
and events, consolidated by degrees into what we call 
character ; and by investigating the progress of the ac- 
cumulation, you would be assisted to judge more 
clearly how far the materials are valuable, the'mixture 
congruous, and the whole conformation worthy to re- 
main unaltered. With respect to any friend that 
greatly interests us, we have always a curiosity to ob- 
tam an accurate account of the past train of his life and 
feelings ; and though there may be several reasons foi 
such a wish, it partly springs from a consciousness how 
niuch tliis retrospective knowledge would assist to de- 
cide or confirm our estimate of that friend ; but our 
estimate of ourselves is of more serious consequence. 

The elapsed periods of hfe acquire importance top 
from the prospect of its continuance. The smallest 
thing becomes respectable, when regarded as the com- 
mencement of what has advanced, or is advancing, 
into magnificence. The first rude settlement of Rom- 
ulus would have been an insignificant circumstance, 
and might justly have sunk into oblivion, if Rome had 
not at length commanded the v/orld. The little rill, 
near the source of one of the great American rivers, is 
an interesting object to the traveller, who is apprised, 



4 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



as he steps across it, or walks a few miles along its 
bank, that this is the stream which runs so far, and 
which gradually swells into so immense a flood. So, 
•while I anticipate the endless progress of life, and won- 
der through what unknown scenes it is to take its 
course, its past years lose that character of vanity 
which would seem to belong to a train of fleeting per- 
ishing moments, and I see thenj assuming the dignity 
of a commencing eternity. In them I have begun to 
be that conscious existence which I am to be through 
infinite duration : and I feel a strange emotion of curi- 
osity about this little life, in which I am setting out on 
sucb e protrress ; I cannot be content without an accu- 
rate sketch of the windings thus far of a stream which 
is to boar me on forever. I try to imagine how it will 
be to recoLect, at a far distant point of my era, what I 
was when here ; and wish, if it were possible, to re- 
tain, as I advance, the whole course of my existence 
within the scope of clear reflection ; to fix in my mind 
so strong an idea of what I have been in this original 
period of my time, that I shall possess this idea in ages 
too remote for calculation. 

The review becomes still more important, when I 
learn the influence which this first part of the progress 
will have on the happiness or misery of the next. 

One of the greatest diflicultics in the way of execut- 
ing the proposed task will have been caused by the^ex- 
treme deficiency of that self-observation, which, to any 
extent, is no common employment either of youth or 
any later age. Men realize their existence in the sur- 
rounding objects that act upon them, and from the in- 
terests of self, rather than in that very self, that inte- 
rior being that is thus acted upon. So that this being 
itself, with its thoughts and feelings, as distinct from 
the objects of those thoughts and feelings, but rarely 
occupies its own deep and patient attention. Men car- 
ry their minds as they carry their watches, content to 
be ignorant of the mechanism of their movements, and 
satisfied with attending to the little exterior circle of 
things, to which the passions, like indexes, are point- 
intr. It is surprising to see how little self-knowledge a 
person not watchfully observant of himself may have 
gained, in the whole course of an active, or even an in- 
quisitive life. He may have lived almost an age, and 
traversed a continent, minutely examining its curiosi- 
ties, and interpreting the half-obliterated characters on 
its monuments, unconscious the while of a process ope- 
rating on his own mind, to impress or to erase charac- 
teristics of much more importance to him than all the 
. figured brass or marble that Europe contains. After 
havino- explored many a cavern or dark ruinous ave- 
nue, he may have left undetected a darker recess in his 
character. He may have conversed with many people, 
in different languajres, on numberless subjects ; but, 
havincr neglected those conversations with himself by 
which his whole moral being should have been kept 
continually disclosed to his view, he is better qualified 
perhaps to describe the intrigues of a foreign court, or 
the progress of a foreign trade ; to represent the man- 
ners of the Italians, or the Turks ; to narrate the pro- 
ceedino-s of the Jesuits, or the adventures of the Gyp- 
sies ; than to write the history of his own mind. 

If we had practised habitual self-observation, we 
could not have failed to make important discoveries. 
There have been thousands of feelings, each of 
which, if strongly seized upon, and made the subject 
of reflection, would have shown us what our character 
was, and what it was likely to become. There have 
been numerous incidents, which operated on us as 
tests, and so fully brought out our prevalent quahty, 
that another person, who should have been discrimi- 
nately observing us, would instantly have formed a de- 
cided estimate. But unfortunately the mind is gener- 
ally too njuch occupied by the feeling or the incident 
"tself, to have the slightest care or consciousness that 
any thing couli be learnt, or is disclosed. In very 



early youth it is almost inevitable for it to be thus lo.st 
to itself even amidst its own feelings, and the external 
objects of attention ; but it seems a contemptible thing, 
and certainly is a criminal and dangerous thing, for a 
man in mature life to allow himself this thoughtl'esa 
escape from self-examination. 

We have not only neglected to observe what oui 
feelings indicated, but have also in a verv great degTee 
ceased to remember what they were. We may justly 
wonder how our minds could pass away successively 
from so many scenes and moments which seemed to us 
important, each in its time, and retain so light an im- 
pression, that we have now nothing to tell about what 
once excited our utmost emotion. As to my own mind, 
I perceive that it is becoming uncertain of the exact 
nature of many feelings of considerable interest, even 
of comparatively recent date ; of course, the remem- 
brance of what was felt in early life is exceedingly 
faint. I have just been observing several children of 
eight or ten years old, in all the active vivacity which 
enjoys the plentitude of the moment without ' looking 
before or after ;' and while observing, I attempted, but 
without success, to recollect what I was at' that age. 
I can indeed remember the principal events of the pe- 
riod, and the actions and projects to which my feelings 
impelled me ; but the feelings themselves, in their own 
pure juvenility, cannot be revived, so as to be described 
and placed in coinparison with those of maturity. 
What is become of all those vernal fancies which had 
so much power to touch the heart 1 What a number of 
sentiments have lived and revelled in the soul that are 
now irrevocably gone ! They died, like the singing 
birds of that time, which now sing no more. 

The life that we then had, now seems almost as if it 
could not have been our own. When we go back to it 
in thought, and endeavour to recal the interests which 
animate it, they will not come. We are like a man 
returning, after the absence of many years, to visit the 
embowered cottage where he passed the morning of his 
life, and finding only a relic of its ruins. 

But many of the propensities which still continue, 
probably originated then : and our not being able to 
explore them up to those remote sources renders a com- 
plete investigation of our moral and intellectual charac- 
ters forever impossible. How little, in those years, we 
were aware, when we met with the incident, or heard 
the conversation, or saw the spectacle or felt the emo- 
tion, which were the first causes of some of the chief 
permanent tendencies of future life, how much and 
how vainly we might, long afterward, wish to ascertain 
the origin of those tendencies. But if we cannot abso- 
lutely reach their origin, it will however be interesting 
to trace them back through all the circumstances which 
have increased their strength. 

In some occasional states of the mind, we can look 
back much more clearly, and to a much greater dis- 
tance, than sit other times. I would advise to seize 
those short intervals of illumination which sometimes 
occur without our knovi'ing the cause, and in which the 
genuine aspect of some remote event, or long-forgot- 
ten image, is recovered with extreme distinctness Dy 
vivid spontaneous glimpses of thought such as no efl^ort 
could hnve commanded ; as the sombre features and 
minute objects of a distant ridge of hills become strik- 
ingly visible in the strong gleams of light which tran- 
siently fall on thern. An instance of this kind occurred 
to me but a few hours since, while reading what had no 
perceptible connexion with a circumstance of my early 
youth, which probably I have not recollected for many 
years, and which had no unusual interest at the time 
that it happened. That circumstance came suddenly 
to my mind with a clearness of representation which I 
was not able to retain for the length of an hour, and 
which I could not by the strongest effort at this instant 
renew. I seemed almost to sec the walls and windows 
of a particular room, with four or five persons in it. 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



A'ho were so perfectly restored to my imagination, that 
1 could recognise not only the features, but even the 
momentary expressions of their countenances, ai.d then 
tonee of their voices. 

According to different states of the mind too, retro- 
snect appears longer or shorter. It may happen that 
some memorable circumstance of very early life shall 
be so powerfully recalled, as to contract the wide in- 
tervening space, by banishing from the view, a little 
while, all the series of intermediate remembrances ; 
but when this one object of memory retires again to 
its remoteness and indifference, and all the others re- 
sume their proper places and distances, the retrospect 
appears long. 

Places and things which have an association with any 
of the events or feelings of past life, will greatly assist 
the recollection of them. A man of strong associa- 
tions finds memoirs of himself already written on the 
places where he has conversed with happiness or mise- 
ry. If an old man wished to animate for a moment the 
languid and faded ideas which he retains of his youth, 
he might walk with his crutch across the green, where 
he once played with companions who are now probably 
laid to repose in another spot not far off. An aged 
saint may meet again some of the affecting ideas of his 
early piety, in the place where he first thought it happy 
to pray. A walk in a meadow, the sight of a bank of 
flowers, perhp./,s even of some one flower, a landscape 
with the tint's of autumn, the descent into a valley, the 
brow 0*" 1 mountain, the house where a friend has been 
met, rr has resided, or has died, have often produced a 
much more lively recollection of our past feelings, and 
of the objects and events which caused them, than the 
most perfect description could have done ; and we have 
lingered a considerable time for the pensive luxury of 
th'is resuming the departed state. 

But there are many to whom local associations pre- 
sent images which they fervently wish they could for- 
get ; images which haunt the places where crimes had 
been perpetrated, and which seemed to approach and 
glare on the criminal as he hastily passes by, especially 
if m the evening or in the night. No local associa- 
tions are so impressive as those of guilt. It may here 
be observed, that as each one has his own separate re- 
membrances, giving to some places an aspect and a sig- 
nificance which he alone can perceive, there must be 
an unknown number of pleasing, or mournful, or dread- 
ful associations, spread over the scenes inhabited or vi- 
sited by men. We pass without any awakened con-, 
sciousness by the bridge, or the wood, or the house, 
where there is something to excite the most painful or 
frightful ideas in th&next man that shall come that way, 
or possibly the companion that walks along with us. 
How much there is in a thousand spots of the earth, 
that is invisible and silent to all but the conscious indi- 
vidual I 

I bear a voice you cannot hear ; 
I see a hand you cannot see. 



LETTER II. 

All pant Life an Education. — Discipline and influence from — 
direct Instruction — Companionship — Books — Scenes of 
I^alure — and the Slate of Society. 

We may regard our past life as a continued though 
irregular course of education ; and the discipline has 
consisted of instruction, companionship, reading, and 
the diversified influenoe of the world. The young 
mind eagerly came forward to meet the operation of 
some or all of these modes of disciphne, though with- 
out the possibility of a thought concerning the import- 
ant jirocess under which it was beginning to pass. In 
some certain degree we have been influenced by each 
of these parts of the great system of education ; it 



will be worth wliile to inquire how far, and in what 
manner. 

Few persons can look back to the early period when 
they were most directly the subjects of instruction, 
without a regret for themselves, (which may be extend- 
ed to the human race,) that the result of instruction, 
excepting that which leads to evil, bears so small a 
proportion to its compass and repetition. Yet some ' 
good consequences will follow the diligent inculcation 
of truth and precept on the youthful mind ; and our 
consciousness of possessing certain advantages derived 
from it will be a partial consolation in the review that 
will comprise so many proofs of its comparative ineffi- 
cacy. You can recollect perhaps, the instructions to 
which you feel yourself permanently the most indebted, 
and some of those which produced the greatest effect 
at the time, those which surprised, delighted, or morti- 
fied you. You can remember the facility or difficulty 
of understanding, the facility or difficulty of believing, 
and the practical inferences which you dre\v from prin- 
ciples, on the strength of. your own reason, and some- 
times in variance with those made by your instructers 
You can remember what views of truth and duty were 
most frequently and cogently presented, what passions 
were appealed to, what arguments were employed, and 
which had the greatest influence. Perhaps your pre- 
sent idea of the most convincing and persuasive mode 
of instruction, may be derived from your early experi- 
ence of the manner of those persons with whose opin- 
ions you felt it the most easy and delightful to harmo- 
nize, who gave you the most agreeable consciousness 
of your faculties expanding to the light, like morning 
flowers, and vvho, assuming the least of dictation, ex- 
erted the greatest degree of power. You can recollect 
the submissiveness with which your mind yielded to in- 
structions as from an oracle, or the hardihood with 
which you dared to examine and oppose them. You 
can remember how far they became, as to your ov.'n 
conduct, an internal authority of reason and conscience, 
when you were not under the inspection of those who 
inculcated them ; and what classes of persons or things 
around you they induced you to dislike or approve. 
And you can perhaps imperfectly trace the manner and 
the particulars in which they sometimes aided, or some- 
times counteracted, those other influences which have 
a far stronger efficacy on the character than instruction 
can boast. 

Most persons, I presume, can recollect some few 
sentiments or conversations which made so deep an im- 
pression, perhaps in some instances they can scarcely 
tell whv, that they have been thousands of times recall- 
ed, while all the rest have been forgotten ; or they can 
advert to some striking incident, coming in aid of in- 
struction, or being of itself a forcible instruction, which 
they seem even now to see as clearly as when it hap- 
pened, and of which they will retain a perfect idea to 
the end of life. The most remarkable circumstances of 
this kind deserve to be recorded in the supposed me- 
moirs. In some instances, to recollect the instructions 
of a former period, will be to recollect too the excel- 
lence, the affection, and the death, of the persons who 
gave them. Amidst the sadness of such a remembrance, 
it will be a consolation that they are not entirely lost to 
us. Wise monitions, when they return on us with this 
melancholy charm, have more pathetic cogency than 
when they were first uttered by the voice of a living 
friend. It will be an interesting occupation of the 
pensive hour, to recount the advantages which we have 
received from the beings who have left the world, and 
to reinforce our virtues from the' dust of those who first 
taught them. 

In our review, we shall find that the companions of 
our childhood, and of each succeeding period, have had 
a great influence on our characters. A creature so 
conformable as man, and at the same time so capable 
of being moulded into partial dissimilarity by social ai^ 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



tipathies, cannot have conversed with his fellow beings 
thousands of hours, walked with them thousands of 
miles, undertaken with them numberless enterprises, 
smaller and greater, and had every passion, by turns, 
awakened in their company, without being immensely 
affected by all this association. A large share, indeed, 
of the social interest may have been of so common a 
kind, and v^ith persons of so common an order, that the 
effect on the character has been too little peculiar to be 
strikingly perceptible during the progress. We were 
not sensible of it, till we came to some of those circum- 
stances and changes in life, which make us_ aware of 
the state of our minds by the manner in which new ob- 
jects are acceptable or repulsive to them. On removing 
into a new circle of society, for instance, we could per- 
ceive, by the number of things in which we found our- 
selves uncongenial with the new acquaintance, the mo- 
dification which our sentiments had received in the pre- 
ceding social intercourse. But in some instances v/e 
have been sensible, in a very short time, of a powerful 
force operating on our opinions, tastes and habits, and 
throwing them into a nevi- order. This eflect is inevi- 
table, if a young susceptible mind happens to become fa- 
miliarly acquainted with a person in whom a strongly 
individual cast of character is sustained and dignified 
by' uncommon mental resources; and :t may he found 
that, generally, the greatest measure of effect has been 
produced by the influence of a very small number of 
persons ; often of one only, whose extended and in- 
teresting mind had more power to surround and assimi- 
late a young, ingenuous being, then the collective in- 
fluence of a multitude of the persons, whose characters 
were moulded in -the manufactory of custom, and sent 
forth like images of clay of kindred shape and varnish 
from a pottery. I am supposing, all along, that the 
person who writes memoirs of himself, is conscious of 
something more peculiar than a mere dull resemblance 
cf that ordinary form of character for which it would 
seem hardly vvorth while to have been a man. As to 
the crowd of those Vvho are faithfully stamped, like bank 
notes, v/ith the same marks, with the difference only of 
being worth more guineas or fewer, they are mere par- 
ticles of a glass, mere pieces and bits of the great vul- 
gar or the small ; thsy need not write their history, it 
may be found in the newspaper chronicle, or the gos- 
sip's or the sexton's nan'ative. 

It is obvious, in what I have suggested respecting 
the research through past life, that ail the persons who 
are recalled to the mind, as having had an influence on 
us, must stand before it in judgment. It is impossible 
to examine our moral and intellectual growth v/ithout 
forming an estimate, as we proceed, of those who re- 
tarded," advanced, or perverted it. Our dearest rela- 
tives and friends cannot be exempted. Tiiere will be 
to some instances the necessity of blaming where we 
wish to give entire praise ; though perhaps some wor- 
thy motives and generous feelings may, at the same 
time, be discovered in theconduct where" they had hard- 
ly been perceived or allowed before. But, at any rate, 
it is important that in no instance the judgment be dup-, 
cd into delusive estimates, amidst the examination, and 
so as to deprave the principles of the examination, by 
which we mean to bring ourselves to rigorous justice. 
For if any indulgent partiality, or mistaken idea of that 
duty vAich requires a kind and candid feeling to ac- 
company the clearest discernment of defects, may be 
permitted to beguile our judgment out of the decisions 
of jutsice in favour of others, self-love, a still more in- 
dulgent and partial feeling, will not fail to_ practise the 
same beguilement in favour cf ourselves. But indeed 
it would seem impossible, besides being absurd, to apply 
one set of principles to judge of ourselves, and another 
to judge of those with vfhom we have associated. 

Every person of tolerable education has been con- 
Biderably influenced by the books he has read ; and re- 
members with a kind of gratitude several of those that 



made the earliest and the strongest impression. Il if 
pleasing at a more advanced period to look again into 
the' early favourites; though- the mature person may 
wonder how some of them had once power to absorb 
his passions, make him retire into a lonely wood in order 
to read unmolested, repel the approaches of sleep, or 
infect it, when it came, with visions. A capital part 
of the proposed task would be to recollect the books 
that have been read with the greatest interest, the pe- 
riods when they were read, the succession of them, the 
partiality which any of them inspired to a particular 
mode of life, to a study, to a system, of opinions or to a 
class of human characters ; to note the counteraction 
of later ones (where we have been sensible of it) to the 
effect produced by the former; and then to endeavour 
to estimate the whole and ultimate influence. 

Considering the multitude of facts, sentiments, and 
characters, which have been contemplated by a person 
who has read much, the effect, one should think, must 
have been very great. Still, however, it is probable 
that a ver}' small number of books will have the pre- 
eminence in our mental history. Perhaps your memory 
will promptly recur to sis or ten that have contributed 
more to your present habits of feeling and thought than 
all the rest together. And here it may be observed, 
that when a few books of the same kind have pleased 
us emphatically, they too often form an almost exclusive 
taste, which is carried through all future reading, and 
is pleased only with books of that kind. 

It might be supposed that the scenes of nature, an 
amazing assemblage of phenomena if their effect were 
not lost through famiharity, would have a powerful in- 
fluence on all opening minds, and transfuse into the in- 
ternal economy of ideas and sentiment something of a 
character and a colour correspondent to the beauty, 
vicissitude, and grandeur, which continually press on 
the senses. On minds of genius they often have this 
effect ; and Beattie's Minstrel may be as just as it is a 
captivating description of the feelings of such a spirit. 
But on the greatest number this influence operates 
feebly ; you will not see the process in children, nor 
the result in mature persons. The charms of nature 
are objects only of sight and hearing, not of sensibility 
and hnagination. And even the sight and hearing do 
not receive impressions sufficiently distinct or forcible 
for clear recollection ; it is not, therefore, strange that 
these impressions seldom go so much deeper than the 
senses as to awaken pensiveness or enthusiasm, and fill 
the mind with an interior permanent scenery of beauti- 
ful imacres at its own command. This defect of fancy 
and sensibility is unfortunate amidst a creation infinitely 
rich with grand and beautiful objects, which imparting 
something more than images to a mind adapted and 
habituated to converse with nature, inspire an exquisite 
sentiment that seems like the emanation of a spirit re 
siding in them. It is unfortunate, I have thought with 
in these few minutes, while looking out on one of thv- 
most enchanting nights of the most interesting seasou 
of the year, and hearing the voices of a company of 
persons, to whom I can perceive that this soft and so- 
lemn shade over the earth, the calm sky, the beautiful 
stripes of clouds, the stars, and the waning moon just 
risen, are things not in the least more interesting than 
the walls, ceilings, and candle-light of a room. I fee' no 
vanity in this instance ; for probably a thousand aspects 
of night, not loss striking than this, have appeared be- 
fore my eyes and departed, not only without awakening 
emotion, but almost without attracting notice. 

If minds in general are not made tobe strongly aflectcd 
by the phenomena of the earth and heavens, they are 
liowever all subject to be powerfully influenced by the 
appearances and character of the human world. I sup- 
pose a child in Switzerland, growing up to a man, would 
have acquired incomparably more of the cast of his 
mind from the events, manners, and actions of the next 
villarre, though its inhabitants were but his occasional 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



companions, than from all the mountain scenes, the 
cataracts, and every circumstance of beauty or sublimity 
m nature around him. We are all true to our species, 
and very soon feel its importance to us, (though be- 
nevolence he not the basis of the interest,) far beyond 
the importance of any thing we see besides. You may 
have observed how instantly even children will turn 
tlieir attention away from any of the more ample aspects 
of nature, however rare or striking, if human objects 
jiresent themselves to view in any active manner. This 
' leaning to our kind' brings each individual not only 
under the influence attending direct companionship 
with a few, but under the operation of numberless in- 
fluences, from all the moral diversities of which he is a 
spectator in the living world, — a complicated, though 
often insensible tyranny, of which every fashion, folly, 
and vice, may exercise its part. 

Some persons would be able, in the review of life, 
to recollect very strong and influential impressions 
made, in almost the first years of it, by some of the 
facts which they witnessed in surrounding society. But 
whether the operation on us of the plastic power of the 
community began with impressions of extraordinary 
force or not, it has been prolonged through the whole 
course of our acquaintance with mankind. It is no lit- 
tle eflect for the living world to have had on us, that 
very many of our present opinions are owing to what 
we have seen and experienced in it. That thinking 
which has involuntarily been kept in exercise upon it, 
however remiss and desultory, could not fail to result 
in a number of settled notions, which may be said to 
be shaped upon its facts and practices. We could not 
be in sight of it, and in intercourse with it, without the 
formation of opinions adjusted to what we found in it ; 
and thus far it has been the creator of our mental 
economy. But its operation has not stopped here. It 
will not confine itself to occupying the understanding, 
and yield to be a mere subject for judgments to be 
formed upon ; but all the while that its judge is direct- 
ing upon it the exercise of his opinion, it is re-actively 
throwincT on him various moral influences and infections. 



LETTER III. 

fery powerful Impressions sometimes from particular Facts, 
tending to form discriminated Characters — Yet very few 
stronglit discriminated and individual Characters found — 
3Iost P-rsons beloinr to general classes of Character — Im- 
mense Number and Diversity of Impressions, of indefinitely 
various tendency, ivhich the moral Being has undergone in 
(he course of Life — ?tlight be expected that such a Confu- 
sion of Influences irould not permit the Formation of any 
settled Character — That such a Character is. nevertheless, 
acquired and maintamed., is owing to some one leading De- 
termination, given, by lahatever means, to the Mind, gene- 
rally in early Life — Common self-deceptive Belief that vie 
have maintained morel Rectitude and. the Exercise of sound 
Reason under the Impressions that have been forming our 
Characters. 

A person, capable of being deeply interested, and 
who is accustomed to reflect on his feelings, will have 
observed in himself this subjection to the influences of 
v/hat has been presented to him in society ; and will 
acknowledge that in one or a few instances they have 
seemed, at the time, of sufficient force to go far toward 
now-moulding the w^hole habit of the mind. Recollect 
vour own experience. After witnessing some remark- 
able transaction, or some new and strange department 
of life and manners, or some striking disclosure of 
character, or after listenhig to some extraordinary con- 
versation, or impressive recital of facts, you have been 
conscious that w-hat you have heard or seen has given 
your mind some one strong determination, of a nature 
resulting from the quality of that which has made the 
impression. Though the dispositions already existing 
must no doubt have been prepared to receive the ope- 



ration of this new cause in one certain manner, (since 
every one would not have been affected in the same 
manner,) yet the feelings have been thrown into an or- 
der so different, that you seemed to have acquired a 
new moral being. The difference has been not merely 
in their temporary energy, but also in their direction. 
In the state thus suddenly formed, some of the disposi- 
tions of which you had been conscious before, seemed 
to be lost, while others, that previously had little 
strength, were grown into an imperious prevalence; 
or even a new one -appeared to have been originated.* 
While this state continues, a man is another character ; 
and if the moral tendency thus excited or created could 
be prolonged through the sequel of his hfe, the difi'er- 
ence might be such, that it would be by means only of 
his person that he would be recognized for the same, 
while an observer who should not know the cau.se, 
would be perplexed and surprised at the change. Nov7 
this permanence of the new moral direction might be 
eflfected, if the impression which causes it were so in- 
tensely powerful as to haunt him ever after ; or if he 
were subjected to a long succession of impressions of 
the same tendency, without any opposite or strongly 
different ones intervening to break the process. 

You have witnessed perhaps a scene of injustice and 
oppression, and have retired with an indignation which 
has tempted you to imprecate -vengeance. Now sup- 
posing that the hateful image of this scene were to be 
revived in your mind for a long time, as often as any 
iniquitous circumstance in society presents itself to your 
notice, and that you had an entire persuasion that your 
feeling was the pure indignation of virtue : or, sup- 
posing that you were repeatedly to witness similar in- 
stances, without emotion becoming languid by famili- 
arity with them, the consequence might be that you 
would acquire the spirit of Draco or Minos. 

It is easy to imagine the impression of a few atrocious 
facts on a mind of ardent passions converting a humane 
horror of cruelty into the vindictive fanaticism of Mont- 
bar the Buccaneer ;t and I have known instances of a 
similar eflfect, in a fainter degree. A person of gentler 
sensibility, by accidentally witnessing a scene of dis- 
tress of which none of the circumstances caused dis- 
gust toward the sufferers, or indignation against others 
as the cause of the sorrow, having once tasted the plea- 
sure of soothing woes which perhaps death alone can 
remove, might be led to seek other instances of dis- 
tress, acquire both an aptitude and a partiality for the 
friendly ofHce, and become a pensive philanthropist. 
The extreme disgust, excited by some extravagance of 
ostentatious wealth, or some excess of dissipated frivo- 
lity, and awaked again at every succeeding and inferior 
instance of the same kind, with a much stronger aver- 
sion than would have been excited in these inferior in- 
stances, if the disgusted feeling did not run into the 
vestiges of the first indelible impression, may produce 
a cynic or a miser, a recluse or a philosopher. Num- 
berless other illustrations might be brought to shovy 
how much the characters of human beings, entering on 
life, with such unwarned carelessness of heart, are at 
the mercy of the incalculable influences which may 
strike them from any point of the surrounding world. 

It is true that, notwithstanding so many influences 
are acting on men, and some of them apparently of a 
kind and of a force to produce in their subjects a striking 
peculiarity, comparatively few characters determinately 
marked from all around them are found to arise. In 
looking on a large company of persons whose disposi- 
tions and pursuits are substantially alike, we cannot 
doubt that several of them have met with circumstances, 
of which the natural tendency must have been to give 
them a determination of mind extremely dissimilar to 
the character of those whom they now so much resem- 
* So great an effect, however, as this last, is perhaps rarely 
experienced from even the nic/st powerful causes, except in early 
life. 

t See Abbe Raynal's History of the Indies 



8 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



rtle. And why does the influence of such circumstances 
fail to produce such a result '! Partly, because the in- 
fluences that are of a more peculiar and specific opera- 
tion are overborne and lost in that wide general influ- 
ence which accumulates and conforms each individual 
to the crowd ; and partly, because even were there no 
such general influence to steal away the impressions of 
a more peculiar tendency, few minds are of so fixed 
and faithful a consistence as to retain, in continued effi- 
cacy, impressions of a kind which the common course 
of life is not adapted to reinforce, nor prevailing exam- 
ple to confirm. The mind of the greater proportion of 
human beings, if attempted to be wrought into any 
boldly specific form, proves like a half-fluid substance, 
in which aiigles, or cucles, or any other figures, may be 
cut, but which recovers, while you are looking, its former 
state, and closes them up ; or like a quantity of dust, 
which mav be raised into momentary reluctant shapes, 
tut which is relapsing even amidst the operation lo- 
■ward its undefined mass. 

But if characters marked with strong individual pe- 
-culiarity are somewhat rare, such as bear some con- 
siderably prominent generic distinction are very nume- 
rous ; the decidedly avaricious for instance, the devoted 
slaves of fashion, and the eager aspirers to power, in 
however confined a sphere, the little Ale.icanders of a 
mole-hill, quite as ambitious, in their way, as the great 
Alexander of a world. It is observable here, how 
much more obviously the unworthy distinctions of hu- 
man character are presented to the thoughts than those 
of contrary quality. And it is a melancholy illustration 
of the final basis of character, that is, human nature it- 
self, that both the distinctions which designate a bad 
class, and those which constitute a bad individual pe- 
culiarity, are attained with far the greatest frequency 
and facility. While, however, I have the most entire 
conviction of this mighty inclination to evil, which is 
the grand cause of all the diversified forms of evil, and 
while, at the same time, I cannot divest myself of the 
vulgar belief of a great native difference between dif- 
ferent men, in the original modification of those princi- 
ples which are to be unfolded by the progress of time 
into intellectual powers and moral dispositions ; I yet 
cannot but perceive that the immediate causes of the 
greater portion of the prominent actual character of 
human beings are to be found in those moral elements 
through which they pass. And if one might be par- 
doned for putting in words, so fanciful an idea as that 
of its being possible for a man to live back again to his 
infancy, through all the scenes of his life, and to give 
back from his mind and character, at each time and 
■circumstance, as he re-passed it, exactly that which he 
took from it, when he was there before, it would be 
most curious to see the fragments and exuvice of the 
■moral man lying here and there along the retrograde 
path, and to find what he was in the beginning of this 
train of modifications and acquisitions. Nor can it be 
doubted that any man, though his original tendencies 
(which possibly have been brought under a series of 
events calculated to favour their development) were 
ever so defined, might, by ueing led through a different 
train, opposite to those native tendencies, have been 
now an extremely difl^'erent man from what he is, even 
the measure of his intellectual cultivation being the same. 
Here a person even of your age, might pause, and 
look back with great interest on the world of cir- 
cumstances through which life has been drawn. Con- 
sider what thousands of situations, appearances, inci- 
dents, persons, you have been present to, each in its 
moment. The review will present to you something 
like a chaos, with all the moral, and all other elements, 
confounded together ; and you may reflect till you be- 
gin almost to wonder how an individual retains even the 
same essence through all the diversities vicissitudes, and 
counteractions of influence, that operate on it during its 
progress through the confusion. But though the es- 



sence is the same, and might defy an universe to ex- 
tinguish, absorb, or change it ; its modification, its 
condition, and habits, will show where it has been and 
what it has undergone. You may descry on it the 
marks and colours 'of many of the things by which, in 
passing, it has been touched or arrested. 

Consider the number of meetings with acquaintance, 
friends, or strangers ; the number of conversations you 
have held or heard ; the number of exhibitions of good 
or evil, virtue or vice ; the number of occasions on 
which you have been disgusted or pleased, moved to ad- 
miration or to abhorrence ; the number of times that you 
have contemplated the town, the rural cottage, or ver- 
dant fields ; the number of volumes that you have read ; 
the times that you have looked over the present state of 
the world, or gone by means of history into past ages ; 
the number of comparisons of yourself with other per- 
sons, alive or dead, and comparisons of them with one 
another ; the number of sohtary musings, of solemn 
contemplations of night, of the successive subjects of 
thought, and of animated sentiments that have been 
kindled and extinguished. Add all the hours and caus- 
es of sorrow that you have known. Through this 
lengthened, and, if the number could be told, stupend- 
ous multiplicity of things, you have advanced while all 
their heterogeneous myriads have darted influence upon 
you, each one of them have some definable tendency. 
A traveller round the globe would not meet a greater 
variety of seasons, prospects, and winds, than you might 
have recorded of the circumstances affecting the pro- 
gress of your character, in your moral journey. You 
could not wish to have drawn to yourself the agency 
of a vaster diversity of causes ; you could not wish, on 
the supposition that you had gained advantage from all 
these, to wear the spoils of a greater number of regions. 
The formation of the character from so many materials 
reminds one of that mighty appropriating attraction, 
which, on the hypotheses that the resurrection should 
re-assemble the same particles which composed the 
body before, must draw them from dust, and trees, and 
animals, from ocean, and winds. 

It would scarcely be expected that a being which 
should be conducted through such anarchy of disci- 
pline, in which the endless crowd of influential powers 
seem waiting each to take a'way what the last had given, 
- should be permitted to acquire, or to retain, any settled 
form of qualities at all. The more probable result 
would be, either several qualities disagreeing with one 
another, or a blank neutrality. And in fact, a great 
number of nearly such neutralities are found every 
where ; persons, who, unless their sharing of the gene- 
ral properties of human nature, a little modified by the 
insignificant distinction of some large class, can be cal- 
led character, have no character. It is therefore some- 
what strange, if you, and if other individuals have come 
forth with moral features of a strongly marked and 
consistently combined cast, from the infinity of mis- 
cellaneous impressions. If the process has been so 
complex, how comes the result to be so simple 1 How 
has it happened that the collective efl'ect of these nu- 
merous and jarring operations on your inind, is that 
which only a.fciv of these oj)erations would have seem- 
ed adapted to produce, and quite different from that 
which many others of them would naturally have pro- 
duced, and do actually produce, in many other per- 
sons l Here you will perceive that some one capital 
determination must long since have been by some means 
established in your mind, and that, during your progress, 
this grand determination has kept you susceptible ot 
the effect of some influences, and fortified against many 
others. Now, what was the prevailing determination, 
whence did it come, how did it acquire its power 1 
Was it an original tendency and insuppressible impulse 
of your nature 1 or the result of your earliest impres- 
sions ; or of some one class of impressions repeated 
oftener than any other ; or of one single impression of 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



extreme force 1 What was it, and whence did it 
come 1 This is the great secret in the history of cha- 
racter ; for, it is scarcely necessary to observe, that as 
soon as the mind is under the power of a predominant 
tendency, the difficulty of growing into the maturity of 
that form of character, which this tendency promotes or 
creates, is substantially over. Because, when a de- 
termining principle is become predominant, it not only 
produces a partial insensibility to all impressions, that 
would counteract it, but also continually augments its 
own ascendancy, by means of a faculty or fatality of 
finding out every thing, and attracting and meeting 
every impression, that is adapted to coalesce with it 
and strengthen it ; like the instinct of animals, which 
instantly selects from the greatest variety of substances 
those which are fit for their nutriment. Let a man 
have some leading and decided propensity, and it will 
be surprising to see how many more things he will find, 
and how many more events will happen, than any one 
could have imagined, of a nature to reinforce it. And 
sometimes even circumstances which seemed of an 
entirely counteractive order, are strangely seduced 
by this predominant principle into an operation that 
confirms it ; just in the same manner as polemics 
most self-complacently avow their opinions to be 
more firmly established by all that the opponent has 
objected. 

It would be easy to enlarge without end on the influ- 
ences of the surrounding world in forming the charac- 
ter of each individual ; and no one would deny that to 
a considerable extent such a representation is true. But 
yet a man rnay be unwilling to allow that he has been 
quite so servilely passive as he would probably find that 
he has been, if it were possible for him to make a com- 
plete examination. He may be disposed to think that 
his reason has been an independent power, has kept 
a strict watch, and passed a right judgment on his mo- 
ral progress, has met the circumstances of the external 
world on terms of examination and authority, and has 
permitted onlv such impressions to be received, or at 
least only such consequences to follow from them, as is 
wisely approved. But I would tell him, that he has 
■ been a very extraordinary man, if the greater part of his 
time has not been spent entirely without a thought of 
reflecting what impressions were made on him, and 
what was their tendency ; and even without a con- 
sciousness that the effect of any impressions was of im- 
portance to his moral habits. He may be assured that 
he has been subjected to many gentle gradual .process- 
es, and has met many critical occasions, on which, and 
on the consequences of which to himself, he exercised 
no attention or opinion. And again, it is unfortunately 
true, that even should attention be awake, and opinions 
be formed, the faculty which forms them is very servile 
to the other parts of the human constitution. If it 
could be extrinsic to the man, a kind of domestic Py- 
thia, or an attendant genius, like the demon of Socrates 
it might then be a dignified regulator of the influences 
which are acting on his character to decide what should 
not affect him, what should affect him, and in what 
manner ; though even then, its disapproving dictates 
would often be inefficacious against the powerful im- 
pressions which create an impulse in the mind, and the 
repetition of them which confirms that impulse into a 
habit. Bat the case is, that this faculty, though mock- 
ed with imperial names, being condemned to dwell in 
the mind in the company of far more active powers than 
itself, and earlierex erciscd, becomes humbly obsequious 
to them. The passions easily beguile this majestic 
reason, or judgment, into neglect, or bribe it into ac- 
quiescence, or repress it into silence, while they receive 
the impressions, and while they acquire from those im- 
pressions that determinate direction which will consti- 
tute the character. If, after thus much is done during 
the weakness, or without the notice, or without the 
leave, or under the connivance or corruption of the 



judgment, it be called upon to perform its part in esti- 
mating the quality and actual effect of the modifying in- 
fluences, it has to perform this judicial work with just 
that degree of rectitude which it can have acquired and 
maintained under the operation of those veiy influences. 
In acting the judge, it is itself in subjection to the ef- 
fect of those impressions of which its office was to have 
previously decided whether they should not be strenu- 
ously repelled. Thus its opinions will unconsciously 
be perverted ; like the answers of the ancient oracles, 
dictated for the imaginary god by beings of a very ter- 
restrial sort, though the sly intervention could not be 
percived. It is quite a vulgar observation, how pleased 
a man may be with the formation of his own character, 
though you laugh at the gravity of his persuasion, that 
his tastes, preferences, and qualities have on *the whole 
grown up under the sacred and faithful guardianship of 
judgment, while in fact his judgment has accepted 
every bribe that has been offered to betray liim. 



LETTER IV. 

Most of the Influences under which the Characters of Men 
are forming, unfavourable to Wisdom, Virtue, and Hap- 
piness — Proof of this, if a Number of Persons, suppose a 
Hundred, were to give a clear Account of the Circum- 
stances that have most affected the state of their Blinds — a 
few Examples — a Misanthropist — a lazy prejudiced 
Thinker — a man fancying himself a Genius — a Projector 
— an Antiquarian in JExcess — a petty Tyrant. 

You will agree with me, that in a comprehensive 
view of the influences which have formed, and are 
forming, the characters of men, we shall find, religion 
excepted, but little cause to felicitate our species. 
Make the supposition that any assortment of persons, 
of sufficient number to comprise the most remarkable, 
distinctions of character, should write memoirs of 
themselves so clear and perfect as to explain, to your 
discernment at least, if not to their own consciousness, 
the entire process by which their minds have attained 
their present state, recounting all the most impressive 
circumstances. If they were to read these memoirs to 
you in succession, and if your benevolence could so 
long be maintained in full exercise, and your rules for 
estimating lost nothing of their determinate principle 
in their application to such a confusion of subjects, yoa 
would often, during the disclosure, regret to observe 
how many things may be the causes of irretrievable 
mischief. Why is the path of life, you would say, so 
haunted as if with evil spirits of every diversity of nox- 
ious agency, some of which may patiently accompany, 
or others of which may suddenly cross, the unfortunate 
wanderer 1 And you would regret to observe into 
how many forms of intellectual and moral perversion 
the human mind readily yields itself to be modified. 

As one of the number concluded the account of him- 
self, your observation would be, I perceive, with com- 
passion, the process under which you have become a 
misantliropist. If your juvenile ingenuous ardour had 
not been chilled on your entrance into society, where 
your most favourite sentiments were not at all compre- 
hended by some, and by others deemed wise and pro- 
per enough, perhaps for the people of the millennium ; 
if you had not felt the mortification of relatives being 
uncongenial, of persons whom you were anxious to 
render happy being indifferent to your kindness, or of 
apparent friendships proving treacherous or transitory ; 
if you had not met with such striking instances of 
hopeless stupidity in the vulgar, or of vain self-impor- 
tance in the learned, or of the coarse or supercilious arro- 
gance of the persons whose manners were always regu- 
lated by the consideration of the number of guineas by 
which they were better than you ; if your mortifications 
had not given you akeen faculty of perceiving the all per- 
vading selfishness of mankind, while, in addition, you had 



10 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



perhaps a peculiar opportunity to observe the apparatus 
of systematic villany, by which combinations of men 
are able to arm their selfishness to oppress or ravage 
the world, you might even now perhaps have been the 
persuasive instructor of beings, concerning whom you 
are wondering why they should have been made in the 
form of rationals ; you might have conciliated to your- 
self and to goodnes"^s where you repel and are repelled ; 
you might have been the apostle and pattern of benev- 
olence, instead of the grim solitaire. Yet not that the 
•world should bear all the blame. Frail and changeable 
in virtue, you might perhaps have been good under a 
series of auspicious circumstances ; but the glory had 
been to be victoriously good against malignant ones. 
Moses lost none of his generous concern for a people, 
on whom you would have invoked the waters of Noah 
or the fires of Sodom to return ; and that Greater than 
Moses, who endured from men such a matchless ex- 
cess of injustice, while for their sake alone he sojourn- 
ed and suffered on earth, was not alienated to live a 
misanthropist, nor to die one. 

A second sketch might exhibit external circumstan- 
ces not producing any effect more serious than an in- 
tellectual stagnation. When it was concluded, your 
recollection might be, — If I did not know that mental 
freedom is a dangerous thing in situations where the 
possessor would feel it a singular attainment ; and if I 
did not prefer even the quiescence of unexamining be- 
lief, when tolerably right in the most material points, 
to the indifference or scepticism which feels no assu- 
rance or no importance in any belief, or to the weak 
presumption that darts into the newest and most daring 
opinions as therefore true — I should deplore that your 
life was destined to preserve its sedate course so en- 
tirely unanimated by the intellectual novelties of the 
acre, the agitations of ever-moving opinion ; and under 
the habitual and exclusive influence of one individual, 
■worthy perhaps, and in certain degree sensible, but of 
Bnenlargcd views, whom you have been taught and ac- 
customed to regard as tlie comprehensive repository 
of all the truth requisite for you to know, and from 
whom you have derived, as some of your chief acquisi- 
tions, an assurance of the labour of inquiry being 
needless and a superstitious horror of hinovation, 
without even knowing what points are threatened by it. 
At the end of another's disclosure, you would say, 
• How unfortunate, that you could not believe there 
might be respectable and valuable men, that were not 
born to be wits or poets. And how unfortunate were 
those first evenings that you were privileged to listen 
to a company of men who could saj/ more fine things 
in an hour chan their biographers will be able, without 
a little panugyric fiction, to record them to have done 
in the whoie "space of life. It was then you discovered 
that you t^ lo v-'ere of the progeny of Apollo, and that 
you had been niquitously transferred at your nativity 
into the hands of ignorant foster-parents, who ha'd en- 
deavored to degrade and confine you to the sphere of 
regular "Employments and sober satisfactions. But, 
you would ' tower up to the region of your sire.' You 
saw what wonderful things might be found to be said 
on all subjects ; you found it not so very difF.cult your- 
self to say different things from other people ; and ev- 
ery thino- that was not common dulness, was therefore 
pointed, every thing that was not sense by any vulgcir 
rule, was therefore sublime. You adopted a certain 
vastitude of phrase, mistaking extravagance of expres- 
sion for greatness of thought. You set yourself to 
dogmatize on books, and the abilities of men, but es- 
pecially on their prejudices ; and perhaps to demolish, 
•with the air of an exploit, some of the trite observa- 
tions and maxims current in society. _ You awakened 
and surjirised your imagination, by imposing on it a 
strano-e new- tax of colours and metaphors ; a tax re- 
Irctantly and uncouthly paid, but perhaps in some 
one instance so luckily, as to gain the applause of these 



gifted (if they were not merely eccentric) men. This 
was to you the proof and recognition of fratenii'y ; and 
it has since been the chief question that has interested 
you with each acquaintance and in each company, 
whether they too could perceive what -/ou were so 
happy to have discovered, yet so anxious that the ac- 
knowledgment of others should confirm ; your own per- 
suasion, however, became as pertinacious as ivy climb- 
ing a wall. It was almost of course to attend to ne- 
cessary pursuits with reluctant irregularity, though suf- 
fering by the consequences of neglecting them, and to 
feel indignant tha-t genius sho-jld be reproached for the 
disregard of these ordinary duties to which it ought 
never to have been subjected. 

During a ■projectors story of life and misfortunes, 
you might regret that he should ever have heard of 
Harrison's time-piece, the perpetual motion, or the 
Greek-fire. 

After an antiguariaji's history, you might be allowed 
to congratulate yourself on not having fallen under the 
spell which confines a human soul to inhabit, like a 
spider in one of the corners, a dusty room, consecrated 
with religious solemnity to old coins, rusty knives, 
illuminated mass books, swords and spurs of forgotten 
kings, and slippers of their queens ; with perhaps a 
Roman helmet, the acquisition of which was the first 
cause of the collection and of the passion, elevated im- 
perially over the relics of kings and queCns and the 
whole museum, as the eagle once waved over the 
kingdoms and the world. And you might be inclined 
to say, I wish that helmet had been a pan for charcoal, 
or had been put on the head of one of the quiet eques- 
trian warriors in the Tower, or had aided the hauntings 
and rattlings of the ghost of Sir Godfrey in the baron's 
castle where he was murdered, or had been worn by 
Don Quixote instead of the barber's bason, or had 
been the cauldron of Macbeth's witches, been in any 
other shape, place, or use, rather than dug up an anti- 
quity, in a luckless hour, in a bank near your garden. 

I compassionate you, — would, in a very benevolent 
hour, be again your language to the wealthy unfeeling 
tyrant of a family and a neighbourhood, who seeks, in 
the overawed timidity and unretaliated injuries of the 
unfortunate beings within his power, — the gratification 
that should have been sought in their happiness. Un- 
less you had brought into the world some extraordinary 
refractoriness to the influence of evil, the process that 
you have undergone could not easily fail of being effi- 
cacious. If your parents idolized their own import- 
ance in their son so much, that they never opposed 
yOLir inclinations themselves, nor permitted it to be 
done by any subject to their authority ; if the humble 
companion, sometimes summoned to the honour of 
amusing you, bore your caprices and insolence with 
the meekness without, which he had lost his enviable 
privilege ; if you could despoil the garden of some 
harmless, dependent neighbour of the carefully reared 
flowers, and torment his little dog or cat, without his 
daring to punish you or to appeal to your infatuated 
parents ; if aged men addressed you in a submissive 
tone, and with the appellation of 'Sir,' and their aged 
wives uttered their wonder at your condescension, and 
pushed their grandchildren away from around tlie fire 
for your sake, if you happened, though with the strut of 
pertness, and your hat on your head, to enter one of 
their cottages, perhaps to express your contempt of the 
homely dv^'elling, furniture, and fare ; if, in maturer 
life, you associated with vile persons, who would fore- 
go the contest of equality, to be your allies in trampling 
on inferiors ; and if, both then and since, you have 
been suffered to deem your wealth the compendium oi; 
equivalent of every ability, and every good quality — it 
would indeed be immensely strange if you had not be- 
come, in due time, the miscreant, v.-ho may thank the 
power of the laws in civilized society, that he is not as- 
saulted with clubs and stones ; to whom one could cor- 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



11 



dially wish the opportunity and the consequences of 
attempting his tyranny among some such people as 
those submissive sons of nature in the forests of North 
America ; and whose dependents and domestic rela- 
tives may be almost forgiven when they shall one day 
rejoice at his funeral. 



LETTER V. 

An Atheist— Slight Sketch of the Procesx hy which a Man 
in the humbler Order of Abilities and Attainments may 
become one. 

I will imagine only one case more, on which you 
would emphatically express your compassion, though 
for one of the most daring beings in the creation, a con- 
temner of God, who explodes his laws by denying his 
existence. 

If you were so unacquainted with mankind, that this 
character might be announced to you as a rare or sin- 
gular phenomenon, your conjectures, till you saw and 
heard the man, at the nature and the extent of the dis- 
cipline through which he must have advanced, would 
be led toward something extraordinary. And you 
might think that the term of that discipline must have 
been very long ; since a quick train of impressions, a 
short series of mental gradations, within the little space 
of a few months and years, would not seern enough to 
have matured such an awful heroism. Surely the 
creature that thus lifts his voice, and defies all invisi- 
ble power within the possibilities of infinity, challeng- 
ing whatever unknown being may hear him, and may 
appropriate that title of Almighty which is pronounced 
in scorn, to evince his existence, if he will, by his ven- 
geance, was not as yesterday a little child that would 
tremble and cry at the approach of a diminutive reptile. 

But indeed it is heroism no longer, i*' he knows that 
there is no God. The wonder then turns on the great 
process, by which a man could grow to the immense 
hitelligence that can know that there is no God. What 
ages and what lights are requisite for this attainment ! 
This intelligence involves the very attributes of Divini- 
ty, while a God is denied. For unless this man is om- 
nipresent, unless he is at this moment in every place in 
the universe, he cannot know but there may be in some 
place manifestations of a Deity, by which even he 
would be overpowered. If he does not know absolutely 
every agent in the universe, the one that he does not 
know may be God. If he is not himself the chief agent 
in the universe, and does not know what is so, that 
which is so may be God. If he is not in absolute posses- 
sion of all the propositions that constitute universal 
truth, the one which he v^-ants may be, that there is a 
God. If he cannot with certainty assign the cause of 
all that he perceives to exist, that cause may be a God. 
If he docs not know every thing that has been done in 
the immeasurable ages that are past, some things may 
have been done by a God. Thus, unless he knows all 
things, that is, precludes another Deity by being one 
himself, he cannot know that the Being whose exist- 
ence he rejects, does not exist. But he must knoio 
that he does not exist, else he deserves equal contempt 
and compassion for the temerity vrith which he firmly 
avows his rejection and acts accordingly. And yet a 
man of ordinary age and intelligence may present him- 
self to you with the avowal of being thus distinguished 
from the crowd ; and if he would describe the manner 
in which he has attained this eminence, you would feel 
a melancholy interest in contemplating that process of 
which the result is so portentous. 

If you did not know that there are more than a few 
such examples, you would say, in viewing this result, I 
should hope this is the consequence of some malignant 
interventi'!". so occasional that ages may pass away be- 
fore it leium among men ; some peculiar conjunction 



of disastrous influences must have lighted on your se- 
lected soul ; you have been struck by that energy of 
evil which acted upon the spirits of Pharaoh and Epi- 
phanes. But give your own description of what you 
have met with in a world which has been deemed to 
present in every part the indications of a Deity. Tell 
of the mysterious voices which have spoken to you 
from the deeps of the creation, falsifying the expres- 
sions marked on its face. Tell of the new ideas, which, 
like meteors passing over the solitary wanderer, gave 
you the first glimpses of truth while benighted in the 
common belief of the Divine existence. Describe 
the whole train of causes that have operated to create 
and consolidate that state of mind, which you carry 
forward to the great experiment of futurity under a dif- ' 
ferent kind of hazaid from all other classes of men. 

It would be found, however, that those circumstances, i 
by which even a man who had been presented from his 
infancy with the ideas of religion, could be elated into 
a contempt of its great object, were far from being ex- 
traordinary. They might have been met by any man, 
v/hose mind had been cultivated and exercised enough 
to feel interested about holding any systems of opmions 
at all, whose pride had been gratified in the conscious- 
ness of having the liberty of selecting and changing 
opinions, and whose habitual assent to the principles of 
religion, had neither the firmness resulting from deci- 
sive arguments, nor the warmth of pious affection.* 
Such a person had only, in the first place, to come into 
intimate acquaintance with a man, who had the art of 
alluding to a sacred subject in a manner which, without 
appearing like intentional contempt, divested it of its 
solemnity ; and who had possessed himself of a few 
acute observations or plausible maxims, not explicitly 
hostile to revealed religion, but which, when opportune- 
ly brought into view in connexion with some points of 
it, tended to throw a slight degree of doubt on their 
truth and authority. Especially if either or both of 
these men had any decided moral tendencies and pur- 
suits of a kind which Christianity condemned, the friend 
of hitellectual and moral freedom was assiduous to m- 
sinuate, that, according to the principles of reason and 
nature at least, it would be difficult to proVe the wis- 
dom or the necessity of some of those dictates of reh- 
gion, which must, however, be admitted, be revered, 
because divine. Let the mind have once acquired a 
feeling, as if the sacred system might in some points 
be invalidated, and the involuntary inference v\-ould be 
rapidly extended to other parts, and to the whole. Nor 

* It will be obvious that I am describing the progress of one 
of the humbler oriler of aliens from all religion, amV net that by 
which the great philosophic leaders have ascended the dreary ' 

eminence, where they look with so much complacency up to a 
vacant heaven, and down to the gulf of aiiiiihiialiun. Their 
progress undoubtedly is much more systematic ajid deliberate, 
and accompanied olien by a laborious speculation, which ihoueh 
in ever so perverted a train, the mind is easily persuaded to 
identify, because it is laborious, wiih the search alter truth and 
the love of it. While however it is in a persevering irn!.'; of 
thought, and not by ihe hasty movements of a m<ire vidsar mind, 
that they pursue their deviation from some ofthe principles nf re- 
ligion into a final abandonment of it all, they are very greatly 
mislaken, if they assure themselves that the moral cai;sts which 
contribute to giddo and animate their progress are all of a sub- 
lime order; and if they could be fully revealed to tl eir own 
view, they might perhaps be severely mortified to find what vul- 
gar motives, while they were despising vulgar men, have ruled 
theif intellectual career. Piide, which idolizes self, which re- 
volts at every thing that comes in the form of dict.aes, and ex- 
ults to find that there is a possibility of contrnvei ting whether 
any dictates come from a greater than moital souice: repug- 
nance as well to the severe and sublime morality ofthe laws re- 
puted of divine apjiointment, as to the feelii g of accoimtable- 
iiessto an all-powerful Autlioriiy, that will not leave moral laws 
to be enforced solely by their own sanctions ; contempt of infe- 
rior men ; the atti-action of a few brihiant e.\rmplc'S : the fash- 
ion of a class ; the ambition of sl\owing what ability can do, and 
what boldness can dare— if such things as these, alar ail, 
have excited and directed the efforts of a philosophic spiiit, the 
unbelievins philosoplier must be content to acknowledge plen- 
ty of companions and rivals among little men, who are nnite 
as capable of being actuated by these elevated principles as him- 
self. 



12 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



was it long probably before this new instructer plainly 
avowed his own entire emancipation from a popular pre- 
judice, to which he was kindly sorry to find a sensible 
young man still in captivity. But he had no doubt that 
the deductions of enlightened reason would s«jccess- 
fuUy appeal to every liberal mind. And accordingly, 
after perhaps a few months of frequent intercourse, with 
the addition of two or three books, and the ready aid 
of all the recollected vices of pretended Christians and 
pretended Christian churches, the whole venerable mag- 
nificence of Revelation was annihilated. Its illumina- 
tions respecting the Divinity, its miracles, its Messiah, 
its authority of moral legislation, its regions of immor- 
tality and retribution, the sublime virtues and devotion 
of its prophets, apostles, and martyrs, together with the 
reasonings of so many accomplished advocates, and the 
credibility of history itself, were vanished all away ; 
while the convert, exulting in his disenchantment, felt 
a strange pleasure to behold nothing but a dreary train 
of impostures and credulity stretching over those past 
ages which lately were gilded with so divine a vision, 
and the thickest Egyptian shades fallen on that total 
vast futurity which the spirit of inspiration had partial- 
ly and very solemnly illuminated. 

Nothing tempts the mind so powerfully on, as to 
have successfully begun to demolish what has been 
deemed to be most sacred. The soldiers of Caesar 
probably had never felt themselves so brave, as after 
they had cut down theMassilian grove ; nor the Philis- 
tines, as when the ark of the God of Israel was among 
their spoils : the mmd is proud of its triumphs in pro- 
portion to the reputed greatness of what it has over- 
come. And many examples would seem to indicate, 
that the first proud triumphs over religious faith involve 
some fatality of advancing, however formidable the 
mass of arguments which may obstruct the progress, 
to farther victories. But perhaps the intellectual diffi- 
culty of the progress might be less than a zealous be- 
liever would be apt to imagine. As the ideas which 
give the greatest distinctness to our conception of a 
Divine Being are imparted by revelation, and. rest on 
its authority, the rejection of that revelation would in 
a great measure banish those ideas, and destroy that 
distinctness. We have but to advert to pure heathen- 
ism, to perceive what a faint conception of this Being 
could be formed by the strongest intellect in the ab- 
sence of revelation ; and after the rejection of it, the 
mind would naturally be carried very far back toward 
that darkness, so that some of the attributes of the 
Deity wou'd immediately become, as ihej were with 
the heathens, subjects of doubtful conjecture and hope- 
less speculation. But from this state of thought it is 
perhaps no vast transition to that, in which his being 
a.lso shall begin to appear a subject of doubt ; since 
the reality of a being is with difficulty apprehended, in 
proportion as its attributes are undefinable. And when 
the mind is brought into doubt, we know it easily ad- 
vances to disbelief, if to the smallest plausibility of ar- 
guments be added any powerful moral cause for wish- 
inw such a conclusion. In the present case there might 
be a very powerful cause, besides that pride of victory 
which I have just noticed. The progress in guilt, 
which generally follows a rejection of revelation, makes 
it still more and more desirable that no object should 
remain to be feared. It was not strange, therefore, if 
this man read with avidity, or even strange if he read 
with something which his wishes completed into con- 
viction, a few of the writers, who have attempted the 
last achievement of presumptuous man. After inspect- 
ing these pages a whilfc, he raised his eyes, and the 
Great Spirit was gone. Mighty transformation of all 
things ! The luminaries of heaven no longer shone 
with his splendour ; the adorned earth no longerjooked 
fair with his beauty ; the darkness of night had ceased 
to be rendered solemn by his majesty; life and thought 
were not ar. clfect of his all-pervading energy ; it was 



not his providence that supported an infinite charge of 
dependent beings ; his empire of justice no longer 
spread over the universe ; nor had even that universe 
sprung from his all-creating power. Yet when you 
saw the intellectual course brought to this signal con- 
clusion, though aware of the force of each preceding 
and predisposing circumstance, you might nevertheless 
be somewhat struck with the suddenness of the final de- 
cision, and might be curious to know what kind of argu- 
ment and eloquence could so quickly finish the work. 
You would examine those pages with the expectation 
probably of something more powerful than subtlety at- 
tenuated into inanity, and in that invisible and impal- 
pable state, mistaken by the reader, and willingly ad- 
mitted by the perverted writer, for profundity of rea- 
soning ; than attempts to destroy the certainty, or pre- 
clude the application, of some of those great familiar 
principles which must be taken as the basis of human 
reasoning, or it can have no basis ; than suppositions 
which attribute the order of the universe to such causes 
as it would be felt ridiculous to pronounce adequate to 
produce the most trifling piece of mechanism ; than 
mystical jargon which, under the name of nature, al- 
ternately exalts almost into the properties of a god, and 
reduces far below those of a man, some imaginary and 
undefineable agent or agency, which performs the most 
amazing works without power, and displays the most 
amazing wisdom without intelligence ; than a zealous 
preference of that part of every great dilemma which 
merely confounds and sinks the mind, to that which 
elevates while it overwhelms ; it than a constant endea- 
vour to degrade as far as possible every thing that is 
sublime in our speculations and feelings, or than mon- 
strous parallels between religion and mythology. You 
would be still more unprepared to expect on so solemn 
a subject the occasional wit, or affectation of wit, which 
would seem rather prematurely expressive of exultaiion 
that the grand Foe is retiring. 

A feeling of complete certainty would hardly be ttius 
rapidly attained ; but a slight degree of remaining 
doubt, and consequent apprehension, would not prevent 
this disciple of darkness from accepting the invitation 
to pledge himself to the cause in some associated band, 
where profaneness and vice would consolidate impious 
opinions without the aid of augmented 'convicticn ; and 
where the fraternity, having been elated by the spirit of 
social daring to say, What is the Almighty that we 
should serve him 1 the individuals might acquire each a 
firmer boldness to exclaim. Who is the Lord that / 
should obey his voice 1 Thus easy it is, my friend, for 
a man to meet that train of influences which may se- 
duce him to live an infidel, though it may betray him to 
die a terrified believer ; that train of which the infatua- 
tion, while it promises him the impunity of non-exist- 
ence, and degrades him to desire it, impels him to fill 
the measure of his iniquity, till the divine wrath come 
upon him to the uttermost. 



LETTER VL 

The Influence of Religion counteracted hy alm.oit all other Ti- 
fluences — Pensive Rrfletions on the imperfect Manifestation 
of the Supreme Seing — on the inefficacy of the Belief of 
such a Being — on the Strangeness of that Inefficacy — and 
on the Debasement and Infelicity consequent on it — Hap- 
piness of a devout Man. 

In recounting so many influences that operate on 
man, it is grievous to observe that the incomparably 
noblest of all, religion, is counteracted with a fatal suc- 
cess by a perpetual conspiracy of almost all the rest, 
aided by the intrinsic predisposition of our nature, 
which yields itself without such consenting facility to 
every impression tending to estrange it still farther from 
God. 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



13 



It is a cause for wonder and sorrow, to see naillions 
of rational creatures growing into their permanent ha- 
bits, under the conforming efficacy of every thing which 
they ought to resist, and receiving no part of those ha- 
bits from in.j^ressions of the Supreme Object. They 
are content that a narrow scene of a diminutive world, 
with its atoms and evils, should usurp and deprave and 
finish their education for immortality, while the Infinite 
Spirit is here, whose transforming companionship would 
exalt them into his sons, and, in defiance of a thousand 
malignant forces attempting to stamp on them an op- 
posite image, lead them into eternity in his likeness. Oh 
why is it so possible that this greatest inhabitant of 
every place where men are living, should be the last 
whose society they seek, or of whose being constantly 
near them they feel the importance 1 Why is it possi- 
ble to be surrounded with the intelligent Reality, which 
exists wherever we are, with attributes that are infinite, 
and not feel, respecting all other things which may be 
attempting to press on our minds and. affect their cha- 
racter, as if they retained with difficulty their shadows 
of existence, and were continually on the point of vanish- 
ing into nothing? Why is this stupendous Intelligence so 
retired and silent, while present, over all the scenes o*" the 
earth, and in all the scenes of the earth, and in all the 
paths and abodes of men ? Whv does he keep his glory 
invisible behind the shades and visions of the material 
world ? Why does not this latent glory sometimes beam 
forth with such a manifestation as could never be for- 
gotten, nor ever be remembered without an emotion of 
religious fear 1 And why, in contempt of all that he has 
displayed to excite either fear or love, is it still possi- 
ble for a rational creature so to live, thai it must finally 
come to an interview with him in a character completed 
by the full assemblage of those acquisitions, which have 
separately been disapproved by him through every stage 
of the accumulation 1 Why is it possible for feeble crea- 
tures to maintain their little dcpei.dent beings fortified 
and invincible in sin, amidst the presence of divine 
purity ■? Wliy does not the thought of such a Being 
strike through tne mind with such intense antipathy to 
evil, as to blast with death every active principle that is 
beginning to pervert it, and render gradual additions of 
depravity, growing into the solidity of habit, as impos- 
sible as for perishable materials to be raised into struc- 
tures amidst the fires of the last day '! ITow is it possi- 
ble to forget the solicitude, which should accompany 
the consciousness that such a Being is continually dart- 
ing upon us the beams of observant thought, (if we may 
apply such a term to Omniscience;) that we are ex- 
posed to the piercing inspection, compared to which the 
concentrated attention of all the beings in the universe 
besides, would be but as the powerless gaze of an in- 
fant? Why is faith, that faculty of spiritual apprehen- 
sion, so absent, or so incomparably more slow and reluc- 
tant to receive a just perception of the grandest of its 
objects, than the senses are adapted to receive the im- 
pressions of theirs 1 While there is a Spirit pervading 
the universe with an infinite energy of being, why have 
the few particles of dust which encloses our spirits the 
power to intercept all sensible communication with 
it, and to place them as in a vacuity, where the sacred 
Essence had been precluded or extinguished ! 

The reverential submission, with which you ought to 
contemplate the mystery of omnipotent benevolence 
forbearing to e.xert the agency, which could assume an 
instantaneous ascendency in every mind over the causes 
of depravation and ruin, will not avert your compassion 
from the unhappy persons who are practically ' without 
God in the world.' And if, by some vast enlargement 
of thought, you could comprehend the whole measure 
and depth of disaster contained in this exclusion, (an 
exclusion under which, to the view of a serious mind, 
the resources and magnificence of the creation would 
sink mto a mass of dust and ashes, and all the causes 
of joy aT-d hope into disgust and despair,) you would 



feel a distressing emotion at each recital of a life in 
which religion had no share ; and you would be tempted 
to wish that some spirit from the other world, possessed 
of eloquence that might threaten to alarm the slumbers 
of the dead, would throw himself in the way of this one 
mortal, and this one more, to protest, in sentences of 
lightning and thunder, against the infatuation that can 
at once acknowledge there is a God, and be content to 
forego every connexion with him, but that of danger. 
You would wish they should rather be assailed by the 
' terror of the Lord,' than retain the satisfaction of care- 
lessness till the day of his mercy be past. 

But you v/ill not need such enlargement of compre- 
hension, in order to compassionate the situation of per- 
sons who, with reason sound to think, and hearts not 
strangers to feeling, have advanced far into life, per- 
haps near to its close, without having fcit the influence 
of religion. If there is such a Being as we mean by 
the term God, the ordinary intelligence of a serious 
mind will be quite enough to see that it must be a 
melancholy thing to pass through life, and quit it, just 
as if there were not. And sometimes it v/ill appear as 
strange as it is melancholy : especially to a person who 
has been pious from his youth. He would be inclined 
to say, to a person who has nearly finished an irreli- 
gious life. What would have been justly thought of 
you, if you could have been the greatest part of your 
time in the society of the wisest and best man on 
earth, (were it possible to have ascertained that indi- 
vidual,) and have acquired no degree of conformity ; 
much more, if you could all the while, have acquired 
progressively the meanness, prejudices, follies, and 
vices, of the lowest society, with which you might have 
been exposed at intervals to mingle ! You might have 
been asked how this was possible But then through 
what defect or infatuation of mind have you been able, 
during so many years spent in the presence of a God, 
to continue even to this hour as clear of all marks and 
traces of any divine influences having operated on you, 
as if the Deity were but a poetical fictnon, or an idol in 
some temple of Asia ? — Evidently, as the immediate 
cause, through want of thought concerning him.- 

And vi'hy did you not think of him 1 Did a most 
solemn thought of him never once penetrate your soul, 
while admitting the proposition that there is such a 
Being 1 If it never did, what is reason, what is mind, 
what is man 1 If it did once, how could its effects stop 
there 1 How could a deep thought, on so singular and 
momentous a subject, fail to impose on the mind a per- 
manent necessity of frequently re-calling it ; as some 
awful or magnificent spectacle will haunt you with a 
long recurrence of its image, even if the spectacle itself 
were seen no more \ 

Why did you not think of him 1 How could you 
estimate so meanly your mind with all its capacities, as 
to feel no regret that an endless series of trifles should 
seize, and occupy as their right, all your thoughts, and 
deny them both the liberty and the ambition of going 
on to the greatest Object 1 How, while called to the 
contemplations which absorb the spirits of Heaven, 
could you be so patient of the task of counting the fiies 
of a summer's day ? 

Why did you not thhik of Him 1 You knew your- 
self to be in the hands of some Being from whose power 
you could not be withdravvn ; was il not an equal de- 
fect of curiosity and prudence to indulge a careless con- 
fidence that sought no acquaintance with his nature 
and his dispositions, nor ever anxiously hiquired what 
conduct should be observed toward him, and what ex- 
pectations might be entertained from him ? You would 
have been alarmed to have felt yourself in the power of 
a mysterious stranger, of your own feeble species ; but 
lot the stranger be omnipotent, and you cared no more. 
Whv did you not think of Him? One would defem 
that the thought of him must, to a serious mind, come 
second to almost every thought. The thought of vir- 



14 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



tue would suggest the thought of both a lawgiver and a 
rewarder ; the thought of crime, of an avenger ; the 
thought of sorrow, of a consoler ; the thought of an in- 
scrutable mystery, of an intelligence that understands 
it ; the thought of that ever-moving activity which pre- 
vails in the system of the universe, of a supreme agent ; 
the thought of the human family, of a great father ; the 
thought of all being not necessary and self-existent, of 
a creator ; the thought of life, of a preserver ; and the 
thought of death, of an uncontrollable disposer. By 
what dexterity, therefore, of irreligious caution, did you 
avoid precisely every track where the idea of him would 
have met you, or elude that idea if it camel And what 
must sound reason pronounce of a mind which, in the 
train of millions of thoughts, has wandered to all things 
under the sun, to all the permanent objects or vanish- 
ing appearances in the creation, but never fixed its 
thought on the Supreme Reality ; never approached, 
like \Ioses, ' to see this great sight V 

If it were a thing which we might be allowed to ima- 
gine, that the Divine Being were to manifest himself 
in some striking manner to the senses, as by some re- 
splendent appearance at the midnight hour, or by re- 
kindling on an elevated mountain the long extinguished 
fires of Sinai, and uttering voices from those fires ; 
would he not compel from you an attention which you 
now refuse 1 Yes, you will say, he would then seize 
the mind with irresistible force, and religion would be- 
come its most absolute sentiment ; but he only presents 
himself to faith. Well, and is it a worthy reason for 
disregarding him, that you only believe him to be pre- 
sent and infinitely glorious 1 Is it the office of faith to 
veil or annihilate its object 1 Cannot you reflect, that 
the grandest representation of a spiritual and divine 
Being to the senses would bear not only no proportion 
to his glory, but no relation to his nature ; and could 
be adapted only to an inferior dispensation of religion, 
and to a people who, with the exception -of a most ex- 
tremely small number of men, had been totally untaught 
to carry their' thoughts beyond the objects of sense 1 
Are you not aware, that such a representation would 
considerably tend to restrict you in your contemplation 
to a defined image, and therefore a most inadequate 
and subordiate idea of the divine Being 1 While the 
idea admitted by faith, though less immediately striking, 
is capable of an illimitable expansion, by the addition 
of all that progressive thought can accumulate, under 
the continual certainty that all is still infinitely short of 
the reality ] 

On the review^ of a character thus grown, in the- ex- 
clusion of the religious influences, to the mature and 
perhaps ultimate state, the sentiment of pious benevo- 
lence would be, I regard you as an object of great com- 
passion : unless there can be no felicity in friendship 
with the Almighty, unless there be no glory in being 
assimilated to his excellence, unless there be no eter- 
nal rewards for his devoted servants, unless there be 
no danger in meeting him, at length, after a life 
estranged equally from his love and his fear. I de- 
plore, at every period and crisis in the review of your 
life, that religion was not there. If religion had been 
there, your youthful animation would neither have been 
dissipated in the frivolity which, in the morning of the 
short day of life, fairly and formally sets aside all se- 
rious business for that day, nor would have sprung for- 
ward into the emulation of vice, or the bravery of pro- 
faneness. If religion had been there, that one despica- 
ble companion, and that other malignant one, would 
not have seduced you into their society, or would not 
have retained you to share their degradation. And if 
religion had accompanied the subsequent progress of 
your life, it would have elevated you to rank, at this 
hour, with those saints who will soon be added to ' the 
spines of the just.' Instead of which, what are you 
now, and what are your expectations from that world, 
where piety alone can hope to find such a sequel of 



life, as will inspire exultation in the retrospect of tlus 
introductory period, in which the mind began to con- 
verse with the God of eternity 1 

On the other hand, it would be interesting to record, 
or to hear, the history of a character which has received 
its form, and reached its maturity, under the strongest 
operations of religion. We do not know that there is 
a more beneficent or a more direct mode of the divine 
agency in any part of the creation than that which 
'apprehends' a man, as apostolic language expresses it, 
amidst the unthiiiking crowd, and leads him into seri- 
ous reflection, into elevated devotion, into progressive 
virtue, and finally into a nobler life after death. When 
he has long been commanded by this influence, he will 
be happy to look back to its first opera tions,whether they 
were mingled in early life almost insensibly with his 
feelings, or came on him with mighty force at some 
particular time, and in connexion with some assignable 
and memorable circumstance, which was apparently 
the instrumental cause. He will trace all the progress 
of this his better life, with grateful acknowledgment 
to the sacred power which has advanced him to a deci- 
siveness of religious habit that seems to stamp eternity 
on his character. In the greater majority of things, 
habit is a greater plague than ever afilicted Egypt ; in 
religious character, it is a grand felicity. The devout 
man exults in the indications of his being fixed and 
irretrievable. He feels this confirmed habit as the 
grasp of the hand of God, which will never let him go. 
From this advanced state he looks with firmness and 
joy on futurity, and says, I carry the eternal mark upon 
me that I belong to God ; I am free of the universe ; 
and I am ready to go to any world to which he shaD 
please to transmit me, certain that every where, in 
height or depth, he will acknowledge me for ever. 



LETTER VII. 

Self-knowledge being supposed the principal Object in tmi- 
ting the Memoir, the train of exterior Fortunes and mic- 
tions will claim but a subordinate Notice in it — Ifitivere 
intended for the amusement of the Public, the Writer 
would do well to Jill it rather with Incident and Action 
— Yet the mere mental History of some IMen vmuld be 
interesting to reflecting Readers — of a Man, for. exam- 
ple, of a speculative Disposition, who has passed through 
many Changes of Opinion — Influences that ii.arp Opin- 
ion — Effects of Time and Experience on the Notions 
arid Feelings cherished in Early Life — Feelings of a 
sensible old Man on viewing a Picture of his own 3Tind 
drawn by himself zohen he was young — Failure of excel- 
lent Designs ; Disappointment of sanguine Hopes — De- 
gree of Explicitness rc'/nired in the Record — -Consrienci 
— Impudence and. canting fahe Pretences of many IVri- 
ters of " Confessions^' — Rosseau. 

The preceding letters have attempted to exhibit only 
general views of the influences by which a reflective 
man may perceive the moral condition of his mind to 
have been determined. 

In descending into more particular illustrations, thera 
would have been no end of enumerating the local cir- 
cumstances, the relationships of life, the profession! 
and employments, and the accidental events, which 
may have aflTected the character. A person who feels 
any interest in reviewing what has formed thus far his 
education for futurity, may carry his own examination 
into the most distinct particularity. — A few miscellane- 
ous observations will conclude the essay. 

You will have observed that I have said compara- 
tively little of that which forms the exterior, and in 
general account the main substance, of the history of a 
man's life — the train of his fortunes and actions. If 
an adventurer or a soldier writes memoirs of himself 
for the information or amusement of the public, he may 
do well to keep his narrative alive by a constant crowd- 
ed course of facts ; for the greater part of his readers 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS 



15 



will excuse him the trouble of investigating, and he 
might occasionally feel it a convenience to be excused 
from disclosing, if he had investigated, the history and 
merits of his internal principles. Nor can this ingenu- 
ousness be any part of his duty, any more than it is 
that of a fiddler at a ball, so long as he tells all that 
probably he professes to tell, that is, where he has been, 
what he has witnessed, and the more reputable portion 
of what he has done. Let him go on with his lively 
anecdotes, or his legends of the marvellous, or his ga- 
zettes of marches, stratagems and skirmishes, and there 
is no obligation for him to turn either penitent or phi- 
losopher on our hands. But I am supposing a man to 
retrace himself through his past life, in order to ac- 
quire a deep self-knowledge, and to record the investi- 
gation for his own instruction. Through such a retro- 
spective examination, the exterior life will hold but the 
second place in attention, as being the imperfect off- 
spring of that internal state, which it is the primary and 
more difficult object to review. From an effectual in- 
quisition into this inner man, the investigator may pro- 
ceed outward, to the course of his actions ; of which 
he will thus have become qualified to form a much 
juster estimate, than he could by any exercise of judg- 
ment upon them regarded merely as exterior facts. 
No doubt that sometimes also, in a contrary process, 
the judgment will be directed upon the dispositions and 
principles within by a consideration of the actions with- 
out, which will serve as a partial explication of the 
interior character. Still it is that interior character, 
■whether displayed in actions or not, which forms the 
leading object of inquiry. The chief circumstances 
of his practical life will, however, require to be noted, 
both for the purpose of so much illustration as they 
will affova of the state of his mind, and because they 
mark the points, and distinguish the stages of his pro- 
gress. 

Though in memoirs intended for publication, a large 
share of incident and action would generally be neces- 
sary, yet there are some men whose mental history 
alone might be very interesting to reflective readers ; as, 
for instance, that of a thinking man, remarkable for a num- 
ber of comjilete changes ofhis speculative system. From 
observing the usual tenacity of vievv's once deliberately 
adopted in mature life, we regard as a curious phenom- 
enom the man whose mind has been a kind of cara- 
vansera of' opinions, entertained awhile, and then sent 
on pilgrimage ; a man who has admired and dismissed 
systems with the same facility with which John Buncle 
found, adored, m.arried, and interred, his succession of 
wives, each one being, for the time, not only better 
than all that went before, but the best in the creation. 
You admire the versatile aptitude of a mind, sliding 
into successive forms of belief in this intellectual me- 
tempsychosis by which it animates so many new bodies 
of doctrines in their turn. And as none of those dying 
pangs which hurt you in a tale of India, attend the de- 
sertion of each of these speculative forms which the 
soul has awhile inhabited, you are extremely amused 
by the number of transitions, and eagerly ask what is to 
be the next ; for you never deem the present state of 
such a man's views to be for permanence, unless perhaps 
when he has terminated his course of beheving every 
thing, in ultimately believing nothing. Even then, un- 
less he is very old, or feels more pride in being a scep- 
tic, the conqueror of all systems, than he ever felt in be- 
mg the champion of one, even then, it is very possible 
he may spring up again, like a vapour of fire from a 
bog, and glimm.er through new mazes, or retrace his 
course through half of those which he trod before. 
You will observe, that no respect attaches to this 
Proteus of opinion, after his changes have been mul- 
tiplied ; as no party expect him to reniaip with them, 
nor deem him much of an acquisition if he should. 
One, or perhaps two, considerable changes, will be re- 
garded as signs of a liberal inquirer, and therefore the 



party to which his first or his second intcilertual con- 
version may assign him, will receive him gladly. But 
he will be deemed to have abdicated The d'gnity of 
reason, when it is found that he can adopt no prin- 
ciples but to betray them; and it will be perhaps just- 
ly suspected that there is something extremely infirm 
in the structure of that mind, whatever vigor may mark 
some of its operiations, to which a series of verv dif- 
ferent, and sometimes contrasted theories, can aj.pear 
in succession demonstratively true, and which imitates 
sincerely the perverseness which Petruchio only af- 
fected, declaring that which was yesterday, to a cer- 
tainty, the sun, to be to-day, as certainly, the moon. 

It would be curious to observe in a man who should 
make such an exhibition of he course ofhis mind, the 
sly deceit of self-love. While he despises the svstem 
which he has rejected, he does not deem it to imply so 
great a want of sense in Mm once to have embraced 
it, as in the rest, who were then or are now its disci- 
ples and advocates. No, in him it was no debility of 
reason, it was at the utmost but a merge of it ; and 
probably he is prepared to explain to you that such pe- 
culiar circumstances, as might warp even a very stroni^' 
and liberal mind, attended his consideration of the sub^ 
ject, and misled him to admit the belief of what others 
prove themselves fools by believing. 

Another thing apparent in a record of changed opin- 
ions would be what I have noticed before, that there is 
scarcely any such thing in the world as simple convic- 
tion. It would be amusing to observe how reason 
had, in one instance, been overruled into acquiescence 
by the admiration of a celebrated name, or in another, 
into opposition by the envy of it ; how most o;)por- 
tunely reason discovered the truth just at the time that 
interests could be essentially served bv avoviano- it - 
how easily the impartial examiner could be induced to 
adopt some part of another man's opinions, after that 
other had zealously approved some favourite, especially 
if unpopular, part of his ; as the Pharisees almost be- 
came partial even to Christ, at the moment that he 
defended one of their doctrines against the Sadducees. 
It would be curious to see how a respectful estimate of 
• a man's character and talents migrht be changed, in 
consequence of some personal inattention experienced 
from him, into depreciating invective against him or his 
intellectual performances, and yet the railer, thoutrh 
actuated solely by petty revenge, account himself, all 
the while, the model of equity and sound judgment. 
It might be seen how the patronage of power" could 
elevate miserable prejudices into revered wisdom, 
while poor old Experience was mocked with thanks for 
her instruction : and how the vicinity or society of the 
rich, and, as they are termed, great, could perhaps 
transmute a soul that seemed to be of the stern con- 
si.-, cnce of the early Roman republic, into the gentlest 
wax on which Corruption could wish to imprint the 
venerable creed, ' The right divine of kings to govern 
wrong,' with the pious and loyal mference of the fla- 
grant iniquity of expelling Tarquin. I am supposin* 
the observer to perceive all these accommodating dex- 
terities of reason ; for it were probably absurd to ex- 
pect that any mind should itself be able, in its review, 
to detect all its own obliquities, after having been so 
long beguiled, like the mariners in a story which I 
remember to have read, who followed the direction of 
their compass, infallibly right as they could have no 
doubt, till they arrived at an enemy's port, where they 
were seized and made slaves. It happened that the 
wicked captain, in order to betray the sliip, had con- 
cealed a large loadstone at a little distance on one side 
of the needle. 

On the notions and expectations of one stage of life, I 
suppose all reflecting men look back with a kind of con- 
tempt, though it may be often with a mingling wish 
that some of its enthusiasm pf feeling could be recov- 
ered, — I mean the period between childhood and ma- 



\^ 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



turity. They will allow that their reason was then 
feeble, and they are prompted to exclaim, Wliat fools 
we have been — while they recollect how sincerely they 
entertained and advanced the most ridiculous specula- 
tions on the interests of life, and the questions of truth ; 
}>ow regretfuliv astonished they were to find the ma- 
ture sense of some of those around them so completely 
wrong ; yet in other instances what veneration they 
' felt for authorities for which they have since lost all 
their respect ; what a fantastic importance they attach- 
ed to some most trivial things;" what complaints 
against their fate were uttered on account of disap- 
pointments which they have since recollected with 
gaiety or self-congratulation ; what happiness of Elysi- 
um they expected from sources which would soon 
have failed to impart even common satisfaction ; and 
how certain they were that the feelings and opinions 
then predominant would continue through life. 

If a reflective aged man were to find at the bottom 
of an old chest, where it had lain forgotten fifty years, 
a record which he had written of himself when he was 
young, simply and vividly describing his whole heart 
and pursuits, reciting verbatim many recent passages 
of the language sincerely uttered to his favourite com- 
panions ; would he not read it with more wonder than 
almost any other writing could at his age inspire 1 His 
consciousness would be strangely confused in the 
attempt to verify his identity with such a being. He 
would feel the young man, thus iLl.oduced to him, sep- 
arated by so wide a distance of character as to render 
all congenial communion im-possible. At every sen- 
tence he might repeat. Foolish youth ! I have no sym- 
pathy with your feelings, I can hold no converse with 
your understanding. Thus you see that in the course 
of a long life a man may be several moral persons, so 
various from one another, that if you could find a real 
individual that should nearly exemplify the character in 
one of these stages, and another that should exemplify 
it in the next, and so on to the last, and then bring 
these several persons together into one society, which 
would thus be a representation of the successive states 
of one man, they would feel themselves a most hete- 
rogeneous party, would oppose and probably despise 
one another, and soorf separate, not caring if they were 
never to meet again. The dissimilarity in mind be- 
tween the two extremes, the youth of seventeen and 
the sage of seventy, might perhaps be little less than 
that in countenance ; and as the one of these contrasts 
might be contemplated by an old man. if he had a true 
portrait for which he sat in the bloom of life, and should 
hold it beside a mirror in which he looks at his present 
countenance, the other would be powerfully felt if he 
had such a senuine and detailed memoir as I have sup- 
posed.! Might it not be worth while for a self-observ- 
ant person in early life, to preserve for the inspection of 
the old man, if he should live so long, such a men- 
tal likeness of the young one 1 If it be not drawn 
near the time, it can never be drawn with sufficient ac- 
curacy. 

If this sketch of life were not written till a very ma- 
ture or an advanced period of it, a somewhat interesting 
point would be, to distinguish the periods durino- which 
the mind made its greatest progress in the enlargement 
of its faculties, and the time when they appeared to 
have reached and acknowledged their insuperable limits. 
And if there have been vernal seasons, if I may so ex- 
press it, of goodness also, periods separated off from 
the latter course of life by some point of time, subse- 

* I recollect a youth of some acquirements, who earnestly 
wished ihe time mi^ht one day arrive, when hi,^ name .should be 
adorned with the addition of D. D. whicli he deemed one of the 
Bublimest of human distinctions. 

t Since a character, and a set of opinions, once formed, not 
unfrequently continue substantially throush life, perhaps the 
moral and intellectual difference between the stages, is not quite 
as great as the physical. Some people have in fact but three or 
four stages in tlie whole of life. 



quent to which the Christian virtues have had a lesJi 
generous growth, this is a circumstance still more 
worthy to be strongly marked. No dot bt it will be 
with a reluctant hand that a man marks either of these 
circumstances; for he could not reflect without regret, 
that many children may have grown into mai-rity and 
great talent, and many unformed or defective characters 
into established excellence, since the period when he 
ceased to become abler or better. Pope, for instance, 
at the age of fifty, would have been incomparably more 
mortified than, as Johnson says, his read.crs are, at the 
fact, if he had perceived it, that he could not then 
write materially better than he had written at the age 
of twenty. And the consciousness of having passed 
many years without any moral and religious progress, 
ought to be not merely the regret for an infelicity, but 
the remorse of guilt ; since, though natural causesmust 
somewhere have circumscribed and fixed the extent of 
the intellectual power, an incessant advancem.ent in the 
nobler distinctions has still continued to be possible, 
and will be possible, till the evening of rational life. 
The instruction resulting from a clear estimate of what 
has been effected or not in this capital concern, is the 
chief advantage to be derived from recording the stages 
of life, comparing one part with another, and bringing 
the whole into a comparison with the standard of per- 
fection, and the illustrious human examples which have 
approached that standard the nearest. In forming this 
estimate, we shall keep in view the vast series of advan- 
tages and monitions, which has run parallel to the train 
of years ; and it will be inevitable to recollect, some- 
times with mortification bordering on anguish, the san- 
guine calculations of improvement of the best kind, 
which at various periods the mind was delighted to make 
for other given future periods, should life be protracted 
till then, and promised itself most certainly to realize 
by the time of their arrival. The mortification will be 
still more grievous, if there was at those past season? 
something more hopeful than mere confident presump- 
tions, if there were actual favourable omens, which par- 
tly justified while they raised, in ourselves and others 
anticipations that have mournfully failed. My dear \x\end 
it is very melancholy that evil must be so palpable, so 
hatefully conspicuous, to an enlightened conscience Ir 
every retrospect of a human life. 

If the supposed memoirs are to be carried forward ap 
life advances, each period being recorded as soon as it 
has elaj)sed, they should not be composed by small dai- 
ly or weekly accumulations, (though this practice mav or 
another ground have its value,) but at certain consider- 
able intervals, as at the end of each year, or any other 
measure of time that is ample enough for some defin- 
able alteration to have taken place in the character oi 
attainments. 

It is needless to say that the style should be as sim- 
ple as possible — unless indeed -the writer accounts the 
theme worthy of being bedecked with brilliants and 
flowers. If he idohzes hi« own image so much as ta 
think it deserves to be enshrined in a frame of gold, why 
let him enshrine it. 

Should it be asked what degree of explicitness ought 
to prevail through this review, in reference to those par- 
ticulars on which conscience has fixed the deepest mark 
of condemnatitin ; I answer, that if a man writes it ex- 
clusively for his own use, he ought to signify both the 
nature of the delinquency and the measure of it, so far 
at least as to secure to his mind a most defined recol- 
lection of the facts, and of the verdict pronounced by 
conscience before its emotions were quelled by time. 
Such honest distinctness is necessary, because this 
will be the most useful part of his record for reflection 
to dwell upon ; because this is the part which self-love 
is most willing to diminish and memory to dismiss ; 
because he may be certain that mere general terms or 
allusions of censure will but little aid the cultivation of 
his humility ; and because this license of saying w 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



17 



much about himself in the character of a biographer 
may become only a temptation to the indulgence of va- 
nity, and a protection from the shame of it, unless he 
can maintain the feeling in earnest that it is really at 
a confessional, and a severe one, that he is giving his 
account. 

But perhaps he wishes to hold this record open to 
an intimate relative or friend ; perhaps even thinks it 
might supply some interest and some lessons to his 
children. And what then ? Why then it is perhaps 
too probable that though he could readily confess some 
«f his faults, there may have been certain states of his 
mmd, and certain circumstances in his conduct, which 
he cannot easily persuade himself to present to such 
inspection. Such a difficulty of being quite ingenuous 
is in every instance a cause for deep regret. Should 
not a man tremble tO' feel himself involved in a difficulty 
of confiding to an equal and a mortal, what has been 
all observed by the Supreme Witness' and Judge 1 
And the consideration of the large proportion of men 
constituting such instances, throws a melancholy hue 
oyer the general human character. It has several 
times in writing this essay occurred to me what stran- 
gers men may be to one another, whether as to the in- 
fluences which have determined their characters, or 
as to the less obvious parts of their conduct. What 
strangers too we may be, with persons who have any 
power and caution of concealment, to the principles 
which are at this moment prevailing in the heart. Each 
mind has an interior apartment of its own, into which 
none but himself and the Divinity can enter. In this 
retired place, the passions mingle and fluctuate in un- 
known awtations. Here all the fantastic and all the 
tragic shapes of imagination have a haunt, where they 
can neither be invaded nor descried. Here the sur- 
rounding human beings, while quite unconscious of it, 
are made the subjects of dehberate thought, and many 
of the designs respecting them revolved in silence. 
Here projects, convictions, vows, are confusedly scat- 
tered, and the records of past life are laid Here in 
solitar/- state, sits Conscience, surrounded by her own 
thunders, which sometimes sleep, and sometimes roar, 
while the world docs not know. • The secrets of this 
apartm.ent, could they have been even but very partially 
brouo-ht forth, might have been fatal to that eulogy and 
splendour vvith which many a piece of biography has 
been exhibited by a partial and ignorant friend. If, 
in a man's own account of himself, written on the sup- 
position of being seen by any other person, the sub- 
stance of the secrets of this apartment is brought forth, 
he throws open the last asylum of his character, where 
it is well if there be nothing found that will distress 
and irritate his most intimate friend, who may thus be- 
come the ally of his conscience to condemn, without 
the leniency which even conscience acquires from self- 
jove. And if it is not brought forth, where is the in- 
tegrity or value of the history; and what ingenuous 
man could bear to give a delusive assurance of his be- 
ing, or having been, so much more v/orthy of applause 
or affection than consciejice all the while pronounces 1 
It is obvious then that a man whose sentiments and de- 
signs, or the undisclosed parts of whose conduct, have 
been stained with deep delinquency, must keep his re- 
cord most sacred to himself ; unless he feels such an 
unsupportable longing to relieve his heart by confiding 
its painful consciousness, that he can be content to hold 
the regard of his friend on the strength of his penitence 
and recovered virtue. As to the rest, whose memory 
of the past is sullied by shades if not by stains, they 
miist either in the same manner retain this delineation 
for solitary use, or limit themselves m writing it, to a 
deliberate and 'strong e.xpression of the measure of con- 
scious culpabilities, and their eflTect in the general cha- 
racter, with a certain reserve and indenniteness of ex- 
planation that shall equally avoid particularity and mys- 
tery ; or else, they must consent to meet their friends, 



who are likewise human and have had their deviations, 
on terms of mutual ingenuous acknowledgment. In 
this confidential communication, each will learn to bo- 
hold the other's transgressions fully as much in *hdl 
hght in which they certainly are infelicities to be com- 
miserated, as in that in which they are also faults oi 
vices to be condemned ; while both will earnestly en- 
deavour to improve by their remembered errors. Thfl 
apostle seems to encourage such a confidence, where 
he says, ' Confess your faults one to another, and pray 
one for another.' 

But I shall find myself danger of becoming ridicu- 
lous amidst these scrupla .bout an entire ingenuous- 
ness to a confidential friei.v. or two, while I glance into 
the literary world, and observe the number of historiana 
of their own lives, who magnanimously throw the com- 
plete cargo, both of their vanities and their vices, befora 
the whole public. Men who can gaily laugh at them- 
selves forever having even pretended to goodness; 
men who can tell of having sought consolation for ths 
sorrows of bereaved tenderness, in the recesses of de- 
bauchery ; men whose language betrays that they deem 
a spirited course of profligate adventures a much no- 
bler thing than the stupidity of vulgar virtues, and who 
seem to claim the sentiments with which we regard an 
unfortunate hero, for the disasters into which these ad- 
venturers led them ; venal partisans, whose talents 
would hardly have been bought, if their venom had noi 
made up the deficiency ; profane travelling co.Kcombs ; 
players, and the makers of immoral plays — all these 
can narrate the course of a contaminated life with the 
most ingenuous effrontery. Even courtezans, grieved 
at the excess of modesty with which the age is aiflict- 
ed, have endeavored to diminish the evil, by presenting 
themselves before the public, in their narratives, in a 
manner very analogous to that in which the Lady Go- 
diva is said to have consented, from a most generous 
inducement, to pass through the city of Coventry, 
They can gravely relate, perhaps, with intermingled 
paragraphs and verses of plaintive sensibility, ( a kind 
of weeds in which sentiment without principle apes 
and mocks mourning virtue,) the whole nauseous detail 
of their transitions from proprietor to proprietor. They 
can tell of the precautions for meeting some ' illustrious 
personage,' accomplished in depravity even in his early 
youth, with the proper adjustment of time and circum- 
stances to save him the scandal of such a meeting ; the 
hour when they crossed the river in a boat ; the ar- 
rangements about money ; the kindness of the person- 
age at one time, his contemptuous neglect at another ; 
and every thing else that can turn the compassion with 
which we deplore their first misfortunes and errors, into 
detestation of the effrontery which can even take to 
itself a merit in proclaiming the commencement, sequelj 
and all, to the wide world. 

With regard to all the classes of self-describers who 
thus think the publication of t'neir vices necessary to 
crown their fame, one should wish there were some 
public special mark and brand of emphatical reproba- 
tion, to reward this tribute to public morals. Men 
that court the pillory for the pleasure of it, ought to re- 
ceive the honour of it too, in all those contumelious sa- 
lutations which suit the merits of vice grown proud of 
Its impudence. Those that 'glory in their shame' 
should like other distinguished personages, ' pay a tax ^ 
tor being eminent.' Yet I own the public itself is to 
be consulted in this case ; for if the public welcomes 
such productions, it shows there are readers who feel 
themselves akin to the writers, and it vyould be hard to 
deprive congenial souls of the luxury of their appropri- 
ate sympathies. If such is th^' taste, it proves that a 
considerable portion of the public deserves just that 
kind of respect for its virtue, which is very significantly 
implied in this confidence of its favour. 

One is indignant at the cant pretence and title of 
Confessions, sometimes adopted by these narrators of 



18 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



their own dis^ace ; as if it were to be believed that 
penitence and humility would ever excite men to call 
thousands to witness an unnecessary disclosure of what 
oppresses them with grief and shame. If they would 
be mortified that only a few readers should think it 
worth their while to see them thus performing the work 
of self-degradation, like the fetid herofes of the Dunciad 
in a ditch, is it because they would gladly incur the 
contempt and disgust of multitudes in order to serve 
the cause of virtue 1 No, this title of Confessions is 
only a nominal deference to irforality, necessary indeed 
to be paid, because mankind never forget to insist, that 
the name of virtue shall be devoutly respected, even 
while vice obtains from them that practical favour on 
which these writers place their reliance for toleration or 
applause. 

This shght homage being duly rendered and oc- 
casionally repeated, iney trust in the character of the 
community that they shall not meet this kind of con- 
demnation, and they have no desire for the kind of pity 
which would strictly belong to criminals ; nor is it any 
part of their penitence, to wish that society may be- 
come better by the odious repellency of their example. 
They are glad the age continues such, that even tkey 
may have claims to be praised ; and honour of some 
kind, and from some quarter, is the object to whicL they 
aspire, and the consequence which they promise them- 
selves. Let them once be convinced, that they make 
such exhibitions under the absolute condition of sub- 
jecting themselves irredeemably to opprobrium, as in 
Miletus the persons infected with a rage for destroying 
themselves were by a solemn decree assured of being 
exposed, after the perpetration of the deed, in naked 
ignominy — and these literary suicides will be heard of 
ao more. 



Rousseau has given a memorable example of this 
voluntary humiliation. And he has honestly assigned 
the degree of contrition which accompanied the self- 
inflicted pcnfince, in the declaration, that this document, 
with all its dishonours, shall be presented in his justifi- 
cation before the Eternal Judge. If we could, in any 
case, pardon the kind of ingenuousness' which he has dis- 
played, it would certai-nly be in the disclosure of a mind so 
wonderfully singular as his.* We are almost willing 
to have such a being preserved, to all the unsightly mi- 
nutae and anomalies of its form, to be placed, as an 
unique, in the moral museum of the world. 

Rousseau's impious reference to the Divine Judge, 
leads me to suggest, as I conclude, the consideration, 
that the history "of each man's hfe, though it should not 
be written by himself or by any mortal hand, is thus far 
unerringly recorded, will one day be finished in truth, 
and one other day yet to come will be brought to a final 
estimate. A mind accustomed to grave reflections is 
sometimes led involuntarily into a curiosity of awful 
conjecture, which asks. What are those very words 
which I should read this night, if, as to Belshazzar, a 
hand of prophetic shade were sent to write before me 
the identical sentences in which that final estimate will 
be declared ! — 

* There is indeed one case in which this kind of iionesty would 
be so singularly useful lo mankind, thai it would ileservs almost 
to be canonized inlo a virtue. If statesmen, including minksiers, 
popular leaders, ambassadors, &c would publish befm'C they go 
in the trmmph of virtue to ilie ' last audit,' or leave to be pub- 
lished after they are gone, each frank exposition of motives, ca- 
bals, and manoeuvres, it would give dignity to that blind a<lora- 
tinn of power and rank in wldch mankind have always tuper- 
stiuously live-d, by supplyirjg just reasons for that aduration. Ij 
would ako give a new aspect to' hisiory ; and perhaps might 
teiid to a ha]ipy exorcism of that evil spirit which has never al- 
lowed nations to remain at peace. 



ESSAY II. 



'ON DECISION OF CHARACTER. 



LETTER I. 

Examples of the Distress and Humiliation incident to an ir- 
resolute Mind — Such a Mind cannot be said to belong to 
itself^-Manner >in which a Man of decisive Spirit delibe- 
rates and vasses into Action— Casar— Such a Spirit pre- 
vents the Fretting away, in harassing Alterations of JVill 
of the animated Feelings required for sustaining the Vi- 

■ gour of Action — Averts impertinent Interference — Acquires, 
if free from Harshness of Manner, an undisputed 
and benrjicial Ascendancy over Associates— Its last Re- 
source inflexible Pertinacity— Instance in a Man on a 
Jury, 

MY DEAR FRIEND, 

We have several times talked of this bold quality, and 
acknowledged its great importance. Without it, a hu- 
man being, with powers at best but feeble, and surroun- 
ded by innumerable things tending to perplex, to divert, 
or to oppress, their operations, is indeed a pitiable atom 



tne sport of diverse and casual impulses. It is a po / 
and disgraceful thing, not to be able to reply, with 
some decrree of certainty, to the simple questions, 
What will you be 1 What will you do ; 

A little acquaintance with mankind will supply num- 
berless illustrations of the importance of this character. 
You will often see a person anxiously hesitating a long 
time between different, or opposite detei.aiEations, 
though impatient of the pain of such a state, and 
ashamed of its debility. A faint impulse of preference 
alternates toward the one, and toward the other ; and 
the mind, while thus held in a trembling balance, is 
vexed that it cannot get some new thought, or feeling, 
or motive, that it has not more sense, more resolution, 
more of any thing that would save it from envying even 
the decisive instinct of brutes. It wishes that any cir- 
cumstance might happen, or any person might appear, 
that could dehver it from the miserable suspense. 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



19 



In many instances, when a determination is adopted 
it is frustrated by tiiis indecision. A man, for example, 
resolves to make a journey to-morrow, which he is not 
vmdcr an absolute necessity to make, but the induce- 
ments appear, this evening, so strong, that he does not 
think it possible he can hesitate in the morning. In the 
morning, however, these inducements have unaccount- 
ably lost much of their force. Like the sun that is 
rising at the same time, they appear dim through a 
mist ; and the sky lovyers, or he fancies that it lowers ; 
recollections of toils and fatigues ill repaid in past ex- 
peditions rise and pass into anticipations ; and he 
lingers, uncertain, till an advanced hour determines 
the question for him, by the certainty that it is now too 
late to go. 

Perhaps a man has conclusive reasons for wishing to 
remove to another place of residence. But when he is 
going to take the first actual step towards executing his 
purpose, he is met by a new train of ideas, presenting 
the possible, and magnifying the unquestionable, disad- 
vantages and uncertainties of a new situation ; awaken- 
ing the natural reluctance to quit a place to which habit 
has accommodated his feelings, and which has grown 
warm to him, if I may so express it, by his having been 
in it so long ; giving new strength to his affection for 
the friends whom he must leave, and so detaining him 
still lingering, long after his serious judgment may have 
dictated to him to be gone. 

A man may think of some desirable alteration in his 
plan of life ; perhaps in the arrangements of his family, 
or in the mode of his intercourse with society. — Would 
it be a good thing 1 He thinks it would be a good 
thing. It certainly would Ijf a very good thing. He 
wishes it were done. .He will attempt it almost imme- 
diately. The following day, he doubts whether it would 
be quite prudent. Many things are to be considered. 
May there not be in the change some evils of which he 
is not aware ] Is this a proper time 1 What will the 
people say 1— And thus, though he does not formally 
renounce his purpose, he shrinks out of it, with a wish 
that he could bo fully satisfied of the propriety of re- 
nouncing it. Perhaps he wishes that the thought had 
never occurred to him, since it has diminished his self- 
complacency, without promoting his virtue. But the 
nest day, his conviction of the wisdom and advantage of 
such a reform comes again with great force. Then, Is 
it so practicable as I was at fi.rst willing to imagine 1 
Why not 1 Other men have done much greater things ; 
a resolute mind is omnipotent ; difficulty is a stimulus 
and a triumph to a strongspirit ; ' the joys of conquest 
arc the joys of man.' What need I care about people's 
opinion 1 It shall be done. He makes the first at- 
tempt. But some unexpected obstacle presents itself; 
he feels the awkwardness of attempting an unacustom- 
cd manner of acting ; the questions or the ridicule of 
his friends disconcert him ; his ardour abates and ex- 
pires. He again begins to question, whether it be wise, 
whether it bo necessary, whether it be possible- ; and at 
last, surrenders his puq>ose, to be perhaj)s resumed when 
the same feelings return, and to be in the same manner 
again relinquished. 

While animated by some magnanimous sentiments 
whic'n he has heard or read. Or vvfhile musing on some 
great example, a man may conceive the design, and 
partly sketch the plan, of a generous enterprise ; and 
his imagination revels in the felicity that would follow, to 
others and to himself, from its accomplishment. The 
splendid representation always centres in himself as the 
hero that is to realize it. 

Yet a certain consciousness in his mind doubfully 
asks. Is this any thing more than a dream ; or am I 
really destined to achieve such an enterprise 1 Des- 
tined ! — and why are not this conviction of its excellence, 
this conscious duty of performing the noblest things 
that are possible, and this passionate ardour, enough to 
secure that I shall effect it 1 He feels indignant at' that , 
1^* 



failing part of his nature which puts him so far below 
his own conceptions, and below the examples which he 
is admiring ; and this feeling assists him to resolve, 
that he will undertake this enterprise, that he certainlj 
will, though the Alps or the Ocean he between him and 
the object. Again his ardour slackens ; distrustful of 
himself, he wishes to know how the design would ap- 
pear to other minds ; and when he speaks of it to his 
associates, one of them wonders, another laughs, and 
another frowns. His pride attempts, while with them, 
a manful defence ; but his mind is gradually descend- 
ing toward their level, he becomes ashamed to enter- 
tain a visionary project, which therefore, like a rejected 
friend, desists from intruding on him or following him, 
and he subsides, at last, into what he labours to believe, 
a man too rational for the schemes of ill-calculating 
enthusiasm. And it were strange if the effort to make 
out this favourable estimate of himself did not succeed, 
while it is so much more pleasant to attribute one's 
defect of enterprise to wisdom, which on maturer 
thought disapproves of it, than to imbecility which 
shrinks from it. 

A person of undecisive character wonders how all 
the embarassments in the world happened to meet ex- 
actly in his way, to place him just in that one situation 
for which he is peculiarly unadapted, and in which he 
is also willing to think no other man could have acted 
with such facility or confidence. Incapable of setting 
up a firm purpose on the basis of things as they are, he 
is often employed in vain speculations on some different 
supposable state of things, which would have saved 
him from all this perplexity and irresolution. He thinks 
what a determined course he could have pursued, if 
his talents, his health, his age, had been different ; if 
he had been acquainted with some one person sooner ; 
if his friends were, in this or the other point, different 
from what they are ; or if fortune had showered her 
favours on him. And he gives himself as much license 
to complain, as if all these advantages had been amono' 
the rights of his nativity, but refused, by a malignant 
or capricious fate, to his life. Thus he is occupied 
— instead of catching with a vigilant eye, and seizing 
with a strong hand, all the possibilities of his actual 
situation. 

A man without decision can never be said to belong 
to himself; since, if he dared to assert that he did, the 
puny force of some cause, about as powerful, you 
would have supj_fOsed, as a spider, may make a capture 
of the hapless boaster the very next moment, and tri- 
umphantly exhibit the futility of the determinations by 
which he was to have proved the independence of 
his understanding and his will. He belongs to what- 
ever can seize him ; and innumerable things do actually 
verify their claim on him, and arrest him as he tries to 
go along ; as tv/igs and chips, floating near the edge of 
a river, are intercepted by every weed, and whirled in 
every little eddy. Having concluded on a design, he 
may pledge' himself to accomplish it, — if the hifndred 
diversities of feeling which may come within the week, 
will let him. As his character precludes all foresight 
of his conduct, he may sit and wonder what form and • 
direction his vievvs and actions are destined to take to- 
morrow ; as a farmer has often to afcknowledge the next 
day's proceedings are at the disposal of its vands and 
clouds. 

This'^man's opinions and determinations always de- 
pend very much on other human beings ; and what 
chance for consistency and stability, while the persons 
with whom he may converse, or transact, are so various ! 
This very evening, he may talk with a man whose sen- 
timents will melt awa.y the present form and outhne of 
his purposes, however firm and defined he may have 
fancied them to be. A succession of persons whose 
faculties were stronger than his own, might, in spite of 
his irresolute reaction, take him and dispose of him as 
they pleased. An infirm character practically confessea 



20 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



Itself made, for subjection, and the man so constituted 
passes, like a slave, from owner to owner. Sometimes 
indeed it happens, that a person of this sort falls into 
the train, and under the permanent ascendancy of some 
one stronger character, which thus becomes through 
life the oracle and guide, and gives the inferior a steady 
will and plan. This, when the leadmg character is vir- 
tuous, is a fortunate relief to the feeling, and an advan- 
tao-eous point gained to the utility, of the subordinate 
appended mind. 

It is inevitable that the regulation of every man's 
plan must greatly depend on the course of events which 
come in an order not to be foreseen or prevented. But 
in accommodating the plans of conduct to the train of 
events, the difference between two men may be no less 
than that, in the one instance, the man is subservient 
to the events, and in the other, the events are made sub- 
servient to the man. Some men seem to have been 
taken along by a succession of events, atid, as it were, 
handed forward m quiet passiveness from one to ano- 
, ther ; without any determined principle in their own 
characters, by which they could constrain those events to 
serve a design formed antecedently to them, or apparent- 
ly in defiance of them. The events seized them as a neu- 
tral material, not they the events. Others, advancing 
through life, with an internal invincible determination of 
mind, have seemed to make the train of circumstances, 
whatever they were, conduce as much to their chief de- 
sign as if they had taken place on purpose. It is wonder- 
ful how even the apparent casualties of life seem to bow 
to a spirit that will not bow to them, and yield to assist 
a design, after having in vain attempted to frustrate it. 
You may have seen such examples, though they are com- 
paratively not numerous. You may have seen a man of 
this strong character in a state of indecision concerning 
some affair, in which it was requisite for him to determine, 
because it was requisite for him to act. Bat, in this case, 
his manner would assure you that he would not remain 
long undecided ; you would wonder if you found him 
stilfat a loss the next day. If he explained his thoughts, 
you would perceive that their clear process, evidently 
at each effort approaching nearer to the result, must 
certainly reach it ere long. The deliberation of such a 
mind is a very different thing from the fluctuation of the 
other. To knmo hoio to obtain a determination, is one 
of the first symptoms of a rationally decisive character. 
When the decision was formed, and the purpose fix- 
ed, vou would feel an entire assurance that something 
would absolutely be done. It is characterestic of such 
a mind, to think for effect ; and the pleasure of escap- 
ing from temporary doubt gives an additional impulse 
to the force with which it is carried into action. Such 
a man will not re-examine his conclusions with endless 
repetition, and he will not be delayed long by consult- 
ing other persons, after he has ceased to consult him- 
self. He cannot bear to sit still among unexecuted 
decisions and unattempted projects. We wait to hear 
of tiis achievements, and are confident we shall not wait 
long. The possibility of the means may not be obvious 
to us, but w^e know that every thing will be attempted, 
and that such a mind is like a river, which, in whatever 
manner it is obstructed, will make its way somewhere. 
'it must have cost Cassar many anxious hours of deli- 
beration, before he decided to pass the Rubicon ; but it 
s probable he suffered but few to elapse, after his deci- 
sion, before he did pass it. And any one of his friends, 
who should have been apprised of this determination, 
and understood his character, would have smiled con- 
temptuously to hear it insinuated that though Cssar 
had resolved, Caesar would not dare ; or that though 
he might cross the Rubicon, whose opposite bank pre- 
sented to him no hostile legions, he might come to 
other rivers, v^^hich he would not cross ; or that either 
rivers, or any other obstacle, would deter him from pro- 
secuting the determination from tlris ominous com- 
meuccment to its very last consequence. 



One signal advantage possessed by a mind of this 
character is, that its passions are not wasted. The whole 
measure of passion of which any mind, with important 
transactions before it, is capable, is not more than 
enough to supply interest and energy to its practical 
exertions ; and therefore as little as possible of this sa- 
cred fire should be extended in a way that does not aug- 
ment the force of action. But nothing can less con- 
tribute to vigour of action, than protracted anxious 
fluctuation, intermixed with resolutions decided and re- 
voked, while yet nothing causes a greater expense of 
feeling. The heart is fretted and exhausted by being 
subjected to an alternation of contrary excitements, with 
the ultimate mortifying consciousness of their contri- 
buting to no end. The long-wavering deliberation, 
whether to perform some bold action of difficult virtue, 
has often cost more to feeling than the action itself, or 
a series of such actions, would have cost ; with the 
great disadvantage too of being relieved by none of that 
invigoration, which, to the man in action, wou^ld have 
sprung from the spirit of the action itself, and have re- 
novated the ardour which it was expending. A per- 
son of decisive character, by consuming as httle passion 
as possible in dubious musings and abortive resolutions, 
can secure its utmost value and use, by throwing it all 
into effective operation. 

Another advantage of this character, is, that it ex- 
empts from a great deal of intelfference and persecution, 
to which an irresolute man is subjected. Weakness, 
in every form, tempts arrogance ; and a man may be 
allowed to wish for a kind of character with which stu- 
pidity and impertinence may not make so free. When 
a firm decisive spirit is recognised, it is curious to see 
how the space clears around a man, and leaves hmi 
room and freedom. This disposition to inteiTOgate, 
dictate, or banter, preserves a respectful and politic 
distance, judging it not unwise to keep the peace with a 
person of so much energy. A conviction that he un- 
derstand.s and that he wills with extraordinary force, -si- 
lences the conceit that intended to perplex or instruct 
him, and intimidates the malice that was disposed to 
attack him. There is a feehng, as in respect to Fate, 
that the decrees of so inflexible a spirit must be right, 
or that, at least, they will be accomplished. 

But not only will he secure the freedom of acting for 
himself, he will obtain also by degrees the coincidencs 
of those in whose company he is to transact the busi- 
ness of life. If the manners of such a man^ are free 
from arrogance, and he can qualify his firmness with a 
moderate degree of insinuation ; and if his measures 
hare partly lost the appearance of being the dictates of 
his will, under the wider and softer sanctions of some 
experience that they are reasonable ; both competition 
and fear will be laid to sleep, and his will may acquire 
an unresisted ascendency over many who will be 
pleased to fall into the mechanism of a system, which 
they find makes them more successful and hajipy than 
they could have been amidst the anxiety of adjusting 
plans and expedients of their own, and the conse 
quences of often adjusting them ill. I have knov^m se- 
veral parents, both fathers and mothers, whose manage- 
ment of their families has answered this description ; 
and has displayed a striking example of the facile com- 
placency with which a number of persons, of different 
ages and dispositions, will yield to the decisions of a 
firm mind, acting on an equitable and enlightened 
system. 

The last resource of this character, is, hard inflexible 
pertinacity, on which it may be allowed to rest it? 
strength, after finding it can be effectual in none of its 
milder forms. I remember admiring an instance of this 
kind, in a firm, sagacious and very estimable old man, 
whom I well knew, and who is now dead. Being on a 
jury, in a trial of life and death, he was completely sa- 
tisfied of the innocence of the prisoner ; the other 
eleven were of the opposite opinion. But he was re- 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



21 



solved the man should not be condemned ; and as the 
first effort for preventing it, very properly made 'appli- 
cation to the 7nnids of his associates, spending several 
hours in labouring to convince them* But he found he 
made no impression, while he was exhausting the 
strength which was to be reserved for another mode 
of operation. He then calmly told them, it should now 
be a trial who could endure confinement and famine the 
longest, and they might be quite assured he would 
sooner die than release them at the expense of the 
prisoner's life. In this situation they spent about twen- 
ty-four hours; when at length all acceded to his ver- 
dict of acquittal. 

It is not necessary to amplify on the indispensable im- 
portance of this quality, in order to the accomplishment 
of any thing eminently good. We instantly see, that 
every path to signal excellence is so obstructed and be- 
set, that none but a spirit so qualified can pass. But it 
is time to examine what are the elements which com- 
pose the character. 



LETTER III. 

Brief Inquiry into the Constituents of this commanding Qua- 
lity — Corporeal Constitution — pnssibilily. nevertheless of 
a firm Mind in a feehle Body — Confidence in a iMwi's 
own Judgment — This is an unconunon Distinction — Pic- 
ture of a Man luho wants it — This Confidence distinguish- 
ed I'rom Ohstinncy — Pirtly founded on Experience — 
Takes a high Tme of Independence in devising Schemes 
— distressing Dilemmas. 

Perhaps the best mode would be to bring into our 
thoughts in successibn, the most remarkable examples 
of this character that we have known in real life, or 
that we have read of in history or even in fiction, and 
attentively to observe, in their conversations, manners, 
and actions, what principles appear to produce, or to 
constitute, this commanding distinction. You v^'ill easi- 
ly pursue this investigation vourself. I lately made a 
partial attempt, and shall offer you a number of sug- 
gesiions. 

As a previous observation, it isbevond all doubt that 
very much depends on the constitution of the body. It 
would be for phvsiologists to explain, if it were expli- 
cable, the manner in which corporeal organization af- 
fects the mind ; I only assume it as a fact, that there 
is in the material construction of some persons, much 
more than of others, some quality which augments, if 
it does not create, both the stability of their resolution, 
and the eners^y of their active .tendencies. There is 
somethins' that, like the ligatures which one class of 
the Olympic combatants hound on their hands and 
wrists, braces round, if I may so describe it, and com- 
presses the powers of the mind, g-iving them a steady, 
forcible spring and re-action, which they would pre- 
sently lose if thev could be transferred into a constitu- 
tion of soft, yielding, treacherous debility. The action 
of strong character seems to demand something firm in 
its corporeal basis, as massive engines require, for their 
weight and for the'r workinor, to be fixed on a solid 
foundation. Accord ngly I believe it would be found, 
that a majority of the persons inost remarkable for de- 
cisive character, have possessed great constitutional 
firmness. I da not mean an exemption from disease 
and pain, nor any certain measure of mechanical strength, 
but a tone of vigour, the opposite to lassitude, and 
adapted to great exertion and endurance. This is 
clearly evinced in respect to many of them, by the pro- 
digious labours and deprivations which they have borne 
in prosecuting their designs. The physical nature has 
eeemed a proud ally of the moral one, and with a hard- 
ness that would n^'ef shrink, has sustained the energy 
that could never remit. 

A view of the disparities between the different races 
of animals inferior to man, will show the effect of or- 



'■ ganization on disposition. Compare, for mstance, a 
. lion with the common beasts of our fields, many of thein 
j composed of a larger bulk of animated substance. 
' What a •>-ast superiority of courage, impetuous move- 
ment, and determined action ;, and we attribute this dif- 
ference to some great dissimilarity of modification in 
the composition of the animated material. Now it is 
probable that a difference somewhat analogous subsists 
between some human bodies and others, and that this 
is no small part of the cause of the striking inequalities 
in respect to decisive character. A very decisive man 
has probably more of the physical quality of a lion in 
his composition than other men. 

It is observable that women in general have less in- 
flexibility of character than men ; and though many 
moral influences contribute to this difference, the prin- 
cipal cause may probably be something less firm in the 
corporeal texture. Now that physical quality, whatever 
it is, from the existence of a smaller measure of which 
in the constitution of the frame, women have less firm- 
ness than men, may be possessed by one man more 
than by men in general, in a greater degree of difference 
than that by which men in general exceed women. 

If there have been found some resolute spirits power- 
fully assertino- themselves in feeble vehicles, it is so 
much the better ; since this would authorize a hope, 
that if all the other grand requisites can be combined, 
they may form a strong character, in spite of the coun- 
teraction of an unadapted constitution. And on the 
other hand, no constitutional hardness will form the 
true character, without those grand principles ; though 
it may produce that false and contemptible kind of de- 
cision which we term obstinacy ; a stubbornness of 
temper, which can assign no reasons but mere will, for 
a constancv which acts in the nature of dead weight 
rather than of strength ; resembling less the re-action 
of a powerful spring, than the gravitation of a big stone. 
The first prominent mental characteristic of the per- 
son whom I describe, is, a complete confidence in his 
own judgment. It will perhaps be said, that this is 
not so uncommon a qualification. I however think it 
is uncommon. It is indeed obvious enough, t\jzx al- 
most all men have a flattering estimate of their own 
understanding, and that so long as this understanding 
has no harder task than to form opinions which are not 
to be tried in action, they have a most self-con.placent 
assurance of being right. This assurance extends to 
the judgments which they pass on the proceedings of 
others. But let them be brought into the necessity of 
adopting actual measures in an untried proceeding, 
where, unassisted by any previous example or practice, 
thev are reduced to depend on the resources of pure 
judgment alone, and you will see, in many cases, this 
confidence of opinion vanish away. The mind seems 
all at once placed in a misty vacuity, where it reaches 
round on all sides, but can find nothing to take hold of. 
Or if not lost jn vacuity, it is overwhelmed by confu- 
sion ; and feels as if its faculties were annihilated as 
soon as it begins to think of schemes and calculations 
among the possibilities, chances, and hazards, which 
overspread a wide, untrodden field ; and this coiiscious 
imbecility becomes severe distress, when it is believed 
that consequences, of serious or unknown good or evil, 
are depending on the decisions which are to be formed 
amidst so much uncertainty. The thought painfully 
recurs at each step and turn, I may be right, but it is 
more probable I am wrong. It is like the case of a 
rustic walking in London, who, having no certain di- 
rection through the vast confusion of streets to tho 
place where he wishes to be, advances, and hesitates, 
and turns, and inquires, and becomes, at each corner, 
still more inextricably perplexed.* A man in this situ- 
* 'Why lines nnt the m.Tii call a hnckriey-roach .'' a gay 
reailer, I ;im au-;ire, will Siiy of a persnn so bemazed in a ereU 
town. So he niiirht. certainly ; and the s.iy rerider and I have 
only to deplore that there is no parallel coiivtnience for tlie as- 
sistance of perplexed understandiriga. 



22 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



ation feels he shall be very unfortunate if he cannot ac- 
complish more than he can understand. Is not this 
frequently, when brought to the practical test, the state 
of a mind not much disposed, in general, to undervalue 
its own judgment 1 

In cases where judgment is not so completely be- 
wildered, you will yet perceive a great practical dis- 
trust of it. A man has perhaps advanced a considera- 
ble way toward a decision, but then lingers at a small 
distance from it, till necessity, with a stronger hand 
than conviction, impels him upon it. He cannot see 
the whole length of the question, and suspects the part 
beyond his sight to be the most important, because it is 
beyond. He fears that certain possible consequences, 
if they should follow, would cause him to reproach him- 
self for his present determination. He wonders how 
this or the other person would have acted in the same 
circumstances ; eagerly catches at any thing like a re- 
spectable precedent; and looks anxiously round to 
know what each person thinks on the subject ; while 
the various and opposite opinions to which he listens, 
perhaps only serve to confound his perception of the 
track of thought by which he had hoped to reach his 
conclusion. Even when that conclusion is obtained, 
there are not many minds that might not be brought a 
few degrees back into dubious hesitation, by a man of 
respected understanding saying, in a confident tone, 
Your plan is injudicious ; your selection is unfortunate ; 
the event will disappoint you. 

It .cannot be supposed that I am maintaining such 
an absurdity as that a man's complete reliance on his 
own judgment is necessarily a proof of that judgment 
being correct and strong. Intense stupidity may be in 
this point the rival of clear-sii^hted wisdom. I had 
once some knowledge of a person, whom no mortal, 
not even Cromwell, could have excelled in the article 
of confidence in his judgment, and consequent inflexi- 
bility of conduct ; while at the same time his succes- 
sive schemes were ill-judged to a degree that made his 
disappointments ridiculous rather than pitiable. He 
■was not an example of that simple obstinacy which I 
have mentioned before ; for he considered his measures, 
and'^d not want for reasons which satisfied himself 
beyond a doubt of their being most judicious. This 
confidence of opinion may be possessed by a person in 
whom it will be contemptible or mischievous ; but i<ts 
proper place is in a very different character, and with- 
out it there can be no dignified actors in human affairs. 

If, after observing how foolish this confidence appears 
as a feature in a weak character, it be inquired what it 
is in a justly decisive person's manner of thinking, 
which authorizes him in this firm assurance that his 
view of the concerns before him is comprehensive and 
accurate ; he may, in answer, justify his confidence 
upon such grounds as these : that he is conscious that 
objects are presented to his mind with an exceedingly 
distinct and perspicuous aspect, not like the shapes of 
moon-light, or like Ossian's ghosts, dim forms of uncir- 
cumscribed shade ; that he sees the different parts of 
the subject in an arranged order, not in dis[)ersed frag- 
ments ; that in each deliberation the main object keeps 
its clear pre-eminence, and he perceives the bearings 
which the subordinate and conducive ones have on it ; 
that perhaps several dissimilar trains of thought lead 
him to the same conclusion ; and that he finds his 
judgment does not vary according to the moods of his 
feelings. 

It may be presumed that a high decree of this cha- 
racter is not attained without a considerable measure 
of that kind of certainty, with respect to the relations 
of things, which can be acquired only from experience 
and observation ; though an extreme vigilance in the 
exercise of observation, and a strong and strongly ex- 
erted power of generalizing on experience, may have 
made a comparatively short time enough to supply a 
large share of the wisdom derivable from these sources ; 



so that a man may be rich in the benefits of experience, 
and therefore may have all the decision of judgment le- 
gitimately founded on that accomplishment, long before 
he is old. This experimental knowledge he will be 
able to apply in a direct and immediate manner, and 
without refining it into general principles, to some sit- 
uations of affairs, so as to anticipate the consequences 
of certain actions in those situations as confidently and 
rationally as the kind of fruit to be produced by a given 
kind of tree. Thus far the facts of his experience will 
serve him as precedents. At the next step, he will -be 
able to apply this knowledge, now converted into gen- 
eral principles, to a multitude of cases bearing but a 
partial resemblance to any thing he has actually wit- 
nessed. And then, in looking forward to the possible 
occurrence of altogether new combinations of circum- 
stances, he can trust to the resources which he is per- 
suaded his intellect will open to him, or is humbly con- 
fident, if he is a devout man, that the Suprerne Intelli- 
gence will not suffer to be wanting to hirn, when the 
occasion arrives. In proportion as his views include, 
at all events, more certainties than those of other men, 
he is less fearful of contingencies. And if, in the 
course of executing his design, unexpected disastrous ' 
events should befal, but which are not owing to any 
thing wrong in the plan and principles of that design, 
but to foreign causes ; it will be characteristic of a 
strong mind to attribute these events discriminately to 
their ovvn cau.ses, and not to the plan, which, therefore, 
instead of being disliked and relinquished, will be still 
as much approved as before, and the man will proceed 
calmly to the sequel of it without any change of ar- 
rangement ; — unless indeed these sinister events should 
be such as to alter the whole state of things to which 
the plan was correctly adapted, and so to create a ne- 
cessity on this account for an entirely new one to be 
formed. 

Without absolutely despising the understandings of 
other men, he will perceive their dimensions compared 
with his own, which will preserve its independence 
through every communication and encounter. It is 
hov^ever a part of this very independence, that he will 
hold himself at liberty to alter his opinion, if the in- 
formation which may be communicated to him, shall 
give sufFicient reason. And as no one is so sensible 
of the importance of a complete acquaintance with a 
subject as the man who is always endeavouring to think 
conclusively, he will listen with the utmost attention 
to the information, which may be received sometimes 
fiom persons for whose j%id<rment he has no great re- 
spect. The information which they may aiTord to him 
is not at all the less valuable for the circumstance, that 
his practical inferences from it may be quite different 
from theirs. Counsel will in general have only so 
much weight with him as it supplies knowledge which 
mav assist his judgment ; he will yield nothing to it as 
authority; but he may hear it with more candor and 
good temper, from being conscious of this independ- 
ence of his judgment, than the man who is afraid lest 
the first person that begins to pfersuade him, should 
confound his determination. He feels it entirely a work 
of his own to deliberate and to resolve, amidst all the 
advice which may be attempting to control him. If, 
with an assurance of his intellect being of the highest 
order, he also holds a commanding station, he will feel 
it gratuitous to consult with any one, excepting.merely 
to receive statements of facts. This appears to be ex- 
emplified in the man, who has lately shown the nations 
of Europe how large a portion of the world may, when 
Heaven permits, be at the mercy of the tolitary work- 
ings of an individual mind. 

The strongest trial of this determined style of judg 
ment is in those cases of urgency where something 
must immediately be done, and where the consequences 
of deciding rijrht or wrong are of great importance ; a? 
in the office of a medical man in treating a patient 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



23 



whose situation, while it renders some hazardous means 
indispensable, also renders it extremly doubtful which 
ought to be selected. A still stronger illustration is 
the case of a general, who is compelled, in the very in- 
Btant, to make dispositions on which the event of a 
battle, the Uves of thousands of his men, or perhaps 
almost the fate of a nation, may depend. He may even 
be reduced to an alternative which .appears equally 
dreadlft on. both sides. Such a dilemma is described 
in Denon's account of one of the sanguinary conflicts 
between the French and Mamelukes, as having for a 
while held General Dcsaix, though a very decisive com- 
mander, in a state of anguish. 



LETTER III. ' 

Energy of Fclmg as necessary as Confidence of Opinion — 
Conduct that resulU from their Combination — Effect and 
Value of a Ruling Passion — Great Derision of Character 
invests even wicked Beings with something which ire are 
tempted to admire — Saian — Zanga — A Spanish Assassin 
— Remarkable Example of this Quality in a Alan who was 
a Prodigal and became poor, hut turned Miser and. became 
rich — Howard — IVhileJield — Christian Missionaries. 

This- indispensable basis, confidence of opinion, is 
however not enough to constitute the character in 
question. For many persons, who have been conscious 
and proud of a much stronger grasp of thought than 
ordinary men, and have held the most decided opinions 
on important things to be done, have yet exhibited, in 
the iistlessness or inconstancy of their actions, a con- 
trast and a disgrace to the operations of their under- 
standings. For want of some cogent feeling impelling 
them to carry every internal decision into action, they 
liave been still left where they were ; and a dignified 
judgriicnt has been seen in the hapless plight of having 
no effective forces to execute its decrees. 

It is evident then, (and I perceive I have partly an- 
ticipated this article in the first letter,) that another es- 
sential priiiciple of the character is, a total incapability 
of surrendering to indifference or delay the serious de- 
terminations of the mind. A strenuous unll mu>3t ac- 
company the conclusions of thought, and constantly 
incite the utmost efforts for their practical accomplish- 
ment. The intellect must be invested, if I may so 
describe it, with a glowing atmosphere of passion, under 
the influence of which, the cold dictates of reason take 
fire, and spring into active powers. 

Revert once more m your thoughts to the persons 
most remarkably distinguished by this decision. You 
v/i!l perceive, that instead of allowing themselves to sit 
down delighted after the labour of successful thinking, 
as if they had completed some great thing, they regard 
'this labour but as a circumstance of preparation, and 
the conclusions resulting from it as of no more value, 
till applied to the greater labour which is to follow, than 
the entombed lamps of the Rosicrucians. They are not 
disposed to be content in a region of mere ideas, 
while they ought to be advancing into the field of cor- 
responding realities ; they retire to that region some- 
times^ as ambitious adventurers anciently went to Del- 
phi, to consult, but nat to reside. You will therefore 
find them almost uniformly in determined pursuit of 
some object, on which they fix a keen and steady look, 
and which they never lose sight of, while they follow 
it through the confused multitude, of other things. 

A person actuated by such a si)irit, seems by his man- 
ner to say, ' Do you think that I would not disdain to 
adopt a purpose which I would not devote my utmost 
force to effect ; or that having thus devoted my exer- 
tions, I will intermit or withdraw them, through indo- 
lence, debiUty, or caprice ; or that I will surrender my 
object to any interference except the uncontrollable 
dispensations of Providence 1 No, I am linked to my 
determination with iron bands ; it clings to me with 



the tenacity of my fate, of the accomplishment of 
which, the frustration of my purpose may indeed be 
doomed as a part, but is doomed so only through cala- 
mity or death. 

This display of systematic energy seems to indicate 
a constitution of mind in which the passions are com- 
mensurate with the intellectual part, and at the same 
time hold an inseparable correspondence with it, like 
the faithful sympathy of the tides with the phases of 
the moon. There is such an equality and connexion, 
that subjects of the decisions of judgment become pro- 
portionally and of course the objects of passion. When 
the judgment decides with a very strong preference, 
that same strength of preference, actuating also the pas- 
sions, devotes them with energy to the object, so long 
as it is thus approved ; and this will produce such aeon- 
duct as I have described. When therefore a firm, self- 
coiifiding, and unaltering judgment fails to make a de- 
cisive character, it is evident either that the passions in 
that mind are too languid to be capable of a strong and 
unremitting excitement, which defect makes an indo- 
lent or irresolute man ; or that they perversely some- 
times coincide with judgment and sometimes clash 
with it, which makes an inconsistent or versatile man. 

There is no man so irresolute as not to act with de- 
termination in many single cases, where the motive is 
powerful and simple, and where there is no need of plan 
and perseverance ; but this gives no claim to the term 
character, which expresses the habitual tenour of a 
man's active being. The character may be displayed 
in the successive unconnected undertakings, v-'hich are 
each of limited exteut, and end with the attainment of 
their particular objects. But it is seen to the greatest 
advantage in those grand schemes of action, which have 
no necessary point of conclusion, which con'inue on 
through successive years, and extend even to that dark 
period when the agent himself is withdrawn from human 
sight. 

I have repeatedly remarked to you. in conversation, 
the effect of what has been called a Ruling Passion. 
When Its object is nolle, and an enlightened under- 
standing directs its movements, it appears to me a great 
felicity ; but whether its object be noble or not it in- 
fallibly creates, where it exists in great force, mat ac- 
tive, ardent constancy, which I describe as a capital 
feature of the decisive character. The Subject of such 
a commanding passion wonders, if indeed he were at 
leisure to wonder, at the persons who prefend to attach 
importance to an object which they make none but the 
most languid efforts to secure. The utmost powers of 
the man are constrained into the service of the favour- 
ite Cause by this passion, which sweeps away, as it 
advances, all the trivial objections and little opposing 
motives, and seems almost to open a way through im- 
possibilities. The spirit comes on him in the morning 
as soon as Ife recovers his consciousness, and com- 
mands and impels him through the day, with a power 
from which he could not emancipate himself if he 
would. When the force of habit is added, the deter- 
mination becomes invincible, and seems to assume 
rank with the great laws of nature, making it nearly as 
certain that such a man will persist in his course as that 
in the morning the sun will rise. 

A persisting, untameable efficacy of soul gives a se- 
diictive and pernicious dignity even to a character and a 
course which every moral principle forbids us to aporovc. 
Often in the narrations of history and fiction, an agent 
of the most dreadful designs compels a sentiment of 
deep respect for the unconquerable mind displayed in 
their execution. While we shudder at his activity, we 
say with regret, mingled with an admiration which bor- 
ders on partiality. What a noble being tliis would have 
been, if goodness had been his destiny ! The partiality 
is evinced in the very selection of terms, by which we 
show that we are tempted to refer his atrocity rather 
to his destiny than to his choice. I wonder whether 



24 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



%n emotion like this, has not been experienced by each 
readtf of Paradise Lost, relative to the Leader of the 
infernal spirits ; a proof, if such were the fact, that a 
Tery serious error has been committed by the greatest 
poet. In some of the high examples of ambition, we 
almost revere the force of mind which impelled them 
forward through the longest scries of action, superior to 
doubt and fluctuation, and dsdainful of ease, of plea- 
sures, of opposition, and of danger. We bow to the 
ambitious spirit which reached the true sublime in the 
reply of Poinpey to his friends, who dissuaded him from 
hazarding his life on a tempestuous sea in order to be 
at Rome on an important occasion ; 'It is necessary for 
me to go ; it is not necessary for me to live.' 

Revenge has produced wonderful examples of this 
unremitting constancy to a purpose. Zanga is a well 
supported illustration. And you may have read a real 
instance of a Spaniard, who, being injured by another 
inhabitant of the same town, resolved to destroy him : 
the other was apprised of this, and removed with the 
utmost secrecy, as he thought, to another town at a 
considerable distance, where however he had not been 
more than a day or two, before he found that his enemy 
was arrived there. He removed in the same manner to 
several parts of the kingdom, remote from each other ; 
but in every place quickly perceived that his deadly 
pursuer was near him. At last he went to South Am- 
erica, where he had enjoyed his security but a very short 
time, before his unrelenting enemy came up with him, 
and accomplished his purpose. 

You may recollect the mention, in one of our con- 
versations, of a young man who wasted, in two or three 
vears, a large patrimony in profligate revels with a num- 
l)er of worthless associates who called themselves his 
friends, and who, when his last means were exhausted, 
treated him of course with neglect or contempt. Re- 
duced to absolute want, he one day went out of the 
house with an intentlc^ to put an end to his life ; but 
wandering a while almost unconsciously, he came to 
the brow of an eminence which overlooked what were 
lately his estates. Here he sat down, and remained 
fixed in thought a number of hours, at the end of which 
he sprang from the ground with a vehement, exulting 
emotion. He had formed his resolution, which was, 
that all these estates should be his again ; he had form- 
ed his plan too, which he instantly began to execute. 
He walked hastily forward, determined to seize the 
very first opportunity, of however humble a kind, to gain 
any money, though it were ever so despicable a trifle, 
and resolved absolutely not to spend, if he could help 
it, a farthing of whatever he might obtain. The first 
thing that drew his attention was a heap of coals shot 
out of carts on the pavement before a house. He of-, 
fered himself to shovel or wheel them into the'place 
where they were to be laid, and was enTi)loyed. He 
received a few pence for the labour ; and then, in pur- 
suance of the saving part of his plan, requested some 
small gratuity of meat and drink, which was given him. 
He then looked out for the next thing that might chance 
to offer ; and went, with indefatigable industry, through 
a succession of servile employments in different places, 
of longer and shorter duration, still scrupulously avoid- 
ing, as far as possible, the expense of a penny. He 
promptly seized every opportunity which could advance 
his design without regarding the meanness of occupa- 
tion or appearance. By this method he had gained after 
a considerable time, money enough to purchase in or- 
der to sell again, a few cattle, of which he had taken 
pains to understand the value. He speedily but cau- 
tiously turned his first gains into second advantages ; 
retained without a single deviation his extreme parsi- 
mony ; and thus advanced by degrees into larger trans- 
actions and incipient wealth. I did not hear, or have 
forgotten, the continued course of his life ; but the final 
result was, that he more than recovered his lost posses- 
•ions, and died an inveterate miser, worth 60,000Z. I 



have always recollected this as a signal instance, thoiij^b 
in an unfortunate and ignoble direction, of decisive cha- 
racter, and of the extraordinary effect which, according 
to general laws, belongs .o the strongest form of such a 
character. 

But not less decision has been displayed by men 
of virtue. In this distinction no man ever exceeded, 
for instance, or ever will exceed, the late illustriona 
Howard. 

The energy of his determination was so great, that 
if, instead of being habitual, it had been shown only for 
a short time on particular occasions, it would have ap- 
peared a vehement impetuosity ; but by being unintej- 
mitted, it had an equability of manner which scarcely ap- 
peared to exceed the tone of a calm constancy, it was so 
totally the reverse of any thing like turbulence or agita- 
tion. It was the calmness of an intensity kept uniform 
by the nature of the human mind forbidding it to be more, 
and by the character of the individual forbidding it to be 
less. The habitual passion of his mind was a measure 
of feeling almost equal to the temporary extremes and 
paroxysms of common minds : as a great river, in its 
customary state, is equal to a small or moderate one when 
swollen to a torrent. 

The moment of finishing his plans in deliberation, and 
commencing them in action, was the same. I wonder 
what must have been the amount of that bribe, in emolu- 
ment or pleasure that would have detained him a week 
inactive after their final adjustment. The law which 
carries water down a declivity, was not more unconquer- 
able and invariable than the determination of his feelings 
toward the main object The importance of this object 
held his faculties in a slate of excitement which was too 
rigid to be affected by lighter interests, and on which 
therefore the beauties of nature and of art had no power. 
He' had no leisure feeling which he could spRrc to be 
diverted aniong the innumerable varieties of the exten- 
. sive scene which he traversed ; all his subordinate feel- 
ings lost their separate existence and operation, bv fall- 
ing into the grand one. There have not been wanting 
trivial minds, to mark this as a fault in his character. 
But the mere men of taste ought to be silent respecting 
such a man as Howard ; he is above their sphere of 
judgment. The invisible spirits, who fulfil their com- 
mission of philanthrophy among mortals, do n^ care 
about pictures, statues, and sumptuous buildino^; and 
no more did he, when the time in which he must have 
inspected and admired them, would have been taken 
from the work to which he had consecrated his life. The 
curiosity which he might feel, was reduced to wait till the 
hour should arrive, when its g-ratification should bft pre- 
sented by conscience, which kept a scrupulous charge 
of all his time, as the most sacred duty of that hour. If 
he was still at every hour, when it carne, fated to feel 
the attractions of the fine arts but the second claim, they 
might be sure of their revenge ; for no. other man will 
ever visit Rome under such a despotic consciousness 
of duty, as to refuse himself time for surveying the 
magnificence of its ruins. Such a sin against taste is 
very far beyond the reach of common saintship to com- 
mit. It implied an inconceivable severity of conviction, 
that he had one thing to do, and that he who wo\ild do 
some great thing in this short life, must apply hirasell 
to the work with such a concentration of his forces, as, 
to idle spectators who live only to amuse themselves, 
looks like insanity. « 

His attention was so strongly and tenaciously fixed 
on his object, that even at the greatest distance, as the 
Egyptian pyramids to travellers, it appeared to him 
with a luminous distinctness as if it had been nigh, and 
beguiled the toilsome length of labour and enterprise 
by which he was to reach it. It was so conspicuous 
before him, that not a step deviated fro.m the direction, 
and every movement and every day was an approxima- 
tion. As his method referred evei-y thing he did and 
Ijhought to the end, and as his exertion did not relax for 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



25 



a moment, he made the trial, so seldom made, what i^■ 
the luinost elTect w^ch may be granted to the last 

Eossible efforts of a numan agent : and therefore what 
6 did not accomplish, he might conclude to be placed 
beyond the sphere of mortal activity, and calmly leave 
to the immediate disposal of Providence. 

Unless the eternal happiness of mankind be an insig- 
nificant concern, and the pa&sion to promote it an inglo- 
rious distinction, I may cite George Whitefield as a 
noble instance of this attribute of the decisive charac- 
ter, this intense necessity of action. The great 
Cause which was so languid a thing in the hands of 
many of its advocates, assumed hi his administrations 
an unmitigable urgency. 

Many of the Christian missionaries among- the hea- 
thens, such as Brainerd, Elliot, and Schwartz, have 
displayed memorable examples of this dedication of 
their whole being to their office, this abjuration of all 
the quiescent feelings. 

This would be the proper place for introducing (if I 
did not hesitate to introduce in any connexion with 
mere human instances) the example of Him who said, 
' I must be about my Father's business. My meat and 
drink is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish 
his work. I have a baptism to be baptized with, and 
. how am I straitened till it be accomplished.' 



LETTER IV. 

Courage a chief Cnnstituent of the Character — Effect of this 
in enicnvnterimr Censure and Ri'lirule — Mmagro. Piznrro, 
and De fjWjyes — Dejianre of Danger — Lutiier — Daniel — 
panther indispensahle Requisite to Derision is the full 
Asreemeiit of all the Powers of the Mind — Lady Mac- 
beth — Rirkard III — Cromwell — Ji Father ichn had the 
opporiuniiif nf saving one of two Sons from Death. 

After the illustrations on the last article, it will seem 
but a very slight transition when I proceed to specify 
Couracre, as an essential part of the decisive character. 
An intelligent man, adventurous only in thought, may 
sketch the most excellent scheme, and after duly ad- 
mirin? it, and himself as its author, may be reduced to 
say, What a noble spirit that would be which should 
dare to realize this ! A noble spirit ! Is it 1 1 And 
his heart may answer in the negative, while he glances 
a mortified thought of inquiry round to recollect persons 
who would venture what he dares not, and almost hopes 
not to find them. Or if by extreme effort he has 
brought himself to a resolution of braving the di'Ticulty, 
he is compelled to execrate the timid lino-erings that 
still keep him back from the trial. A man endowed 
with the complete character, might say, with a sober 
consciousness as remote from the spirit of bravado as 
it is from timidity. Thus, and thus, is my conviction 
and my determination ; now for the phantoms of fear ; 
let me look them in the face ; they will find I am not 
made of trembling materials : ' I dare do all that may 
become a man.' I shall firmly confront every thing 
that threatens me in the prosecuting of my purpose, 
and I am prepared to meet the consequences of it when 
it is accomplished. I should despise a being, though 
it were inyself, whose agency could be held enslaved 
by the gloomy shapes of imagination, by the haunt- 
ing recollections of a dream, by the whistling or the 
howling of winds, by the shriek of owls, by the shades 
of midnight, or by the threats and frowns of man. I 
should be indignant to feel that, in the commencement 
of an adventure, I could think of nothing but the deep 
pit by the side of the way where I must walk, into 
which I miy slide, the mad animal which it is not im- 
possible that I may meet, or the assassin who may lurk 
in a thicket of yonder wood. And I disdain to compro- 
mise the interests that rouse me to action, for the pri- 
tilege of a disgraceful security. 

As the conduct of a decisive man is always individ- 



ual, and often singular, he may e.xpect ^ome serious 
trials of courage. For one thirig, he may bo encoun- 
tered by the strongest disapprobation of manv of his 
connexions, and the censure of the greater part of the 
society where he is known. In this case, it is not a 
man of common spirit that can show himself just as at 
other times, and meet their anger in the same undis- 
turbed manner as he would meet some ordinary incle- 
mency of the weather ; that can without harshness or 
violence, continue to effect every moment some part 
of his design, coolly replying to each ungracious look 
and indignant voice, I am sorry to oppose you : I am 
not unfriendly to you, while thus persisting in what ex- 
cites your displeasure ; it wo\ild please me to have 
your approbation and concurreuce, and 1 think I should 
have them if you would seriously consider my reasons; 
but meanwhile, I am superior to opinion, I am not to 
be intimidated by reproaches, nor would your favour 
and applause be any reward for the sacrifice of my ob- 
ject. As you can do without my approbation, I can 
certainly do without yours ; it is enough that I can ap- 
prove myself it is enough that I can appeal to the last 
authority in the creation. Amuse yourselves, as vou 
may, by continuing to censure or to rail ; / must con- 
tinue to act. 

The attack of contempt and ridicule is perhaps a still 
greater trial of couaage. It is felt by all to be an ad- 
mirable thing, when it can in no degree be ascribed to 
the hardness of either stupidity or confirmed depravity, 
to sustain for a considerable time, or in numerous in- 
stances, the looks of scorn, or an unrestrained shower 
of taunts and jeers, with a perfect composure, which 
shall immediately after, or even at the time, proceed on 
the business that provokes all this ridicule. This in- 
vincibility of temper will often make even the scoffers 
themselves tired of the sport ; they begin to feel that 
agrainst such a man it is a poor sort of hostility to laugh. 
There is nothing that people are mor.e mortified to 
spend in vain than their scorn. Till, however, a man 
becomes a veterarf, he must reckon on sometimes meet- 
ing this trial ; and I instantly know— if Ihear him anx- 
iously reply, to an important suggestion of any measure 
to be adopted. But will they not laugh at me '! — I know 
that he is not the person whom this essay attempts to 
describe. A man of the right kind would say. They 
will smile, they will laugh, will they \ Much good may 
it do them. I have something else to do than to trou- 
ble myself about their mirth. I do not care if the 
whole neighbourhood were to laugh in a chorus. I 
should indeed be sorry to see or hear such a num- 
ber of fools, but pleased enough to find that they did 
not consider me as one of their stamp. The good to 
result from my project will not be less, because vain 
and shallow minds that cannot jnilerstand it, are di- 
verted at it and at me. What should 1 think of my 
pursuits, if every trivial, thoughtless being could com- 
prehend or would applaud them ; and of myself, if my 
courage needed levity and ignorance for their allies, 
or could shrink at their sneers 1 

I remember, that on reading the account of the pro- 
ject of conquering Peru, formed by Almagro, Pizarro, 
and De Luques, while abhorring the principle and the 
design of the men, I could not help admiring the hardi- 
hood pf mind, which made them regardless of scorn. 
These three individuals, before they had obtained any 
associates, or arms, or soldiers, or a complete know- 
ledge of the power of the kingdom they were to con- 
quer, celebrated a solemn mass in one of the great 
churches, as a pledge and a commencement of the en- 
terprise, amidst the astonishment and contempt ex- 
pressed by a multitude of people for what was deemed 
a monstrous project. They however proceeded through 
the service, and afterwards to their respective depart- 
ments of preparation, with an apparently entire insen- 
sibility to all this triumphant scorn ; and thus gave the 
first proof of possessing that invincible firmness with 



26 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



which they afterwards prosecuted their design, till they 
attained a success, the destructive process and many 
of the results of which humanity will for ever deplore. 

Milton's Abdiel is a noble illustration of the courage 
that defies scorn. 

But in some of the situations where decision of cha- 
racter is to be evinced, a man will be threatened by 
evils of a darker aspect than disapprobation or contempt. 
He may apprehend serious sufferings ; and very often, 
to dare as far as conscience or a great cause required, 
has been to dare to die. In almost all plans of great 
enterprise, a man must systematically dismiss, at the 
entrance, every wish to stipulate for safety with his 
destiny. He voluntarily treads within the precincts of 
danger ; and though it is possible that he may escape, 
he ought to be prepared with the fortitude of a self- 
devoted victim. This is the inevitable condition on 
which heroes, travellers or missionaries among savage 
nations, and reformers on a grand scale, must com- 
■ mence their career. Either thev must allay their fire 
of enterprise, or they must hold themselves in readiness 
to be exploded by it from the world. 

The last decisive energy of a rational courage, which 
confides in the Supreme Povi^er, is very sublime. It 
makes a man, who intrepidly dares every thing that 
can oppose or attack him within the whole sphere of 
mortality ; who would retain his purpose unshaken 
amidst the ruins of the world ; who will still press to- 
ward his object while death is impending over him. 

It was in the true elevation of this character that Lu- 
ther, when cited to appear at the Diet of Worms, under 
a very questionable assurance of safety from high au- 
thority, said to his friends, who conjured him not to go, 
and justly brought the example of John Huss, who, in 
a similar situation, and with the same pledge of pro- 
tection, had Tjotwithstanding been burnt alive, ' I am 
called in the name of God to go, and I would go, though 
I were certain to meet as many devils in Worms as 
there are tiles on the houses.' 

A reader of the Bible will not forget Daniel, braving 
m calm devotion the decree which virtually consigned 
him to the den of lions ; or Shadrach, Meshach and 
Abed-nego, saying to the tyrant, 'We are not careful 
to answer thee in this matter,' when the furnace was in 
sight. 

The combination of these several essential principles 
constitutes that state of\mind which is the grand re- 
quisite to decision of character, and perhaps its most 
strikinsr distinction, that is, the full agreement of the 
mind with itself, the co-operation of all its powers and 
all its dispositions. 

What an unfortunate task it would be for a charioteer, 
•who had harnessed a set of horses however strong, if 
he could not make them draw together ; if, while one,, 
of them would go forward, another v/as restive, another 
strugelad backward, another started aside. If even 
one of the four were unmanageably perverse, while the 
three were obedient, an aged beggar with his crutch 
might leave Phaeton behind. So in a human being, 
unless the chief forces act consentaneously, there can 
be no inflexible vigour, either of will or of execution. 
One dissentient principle in the mind not only deducts 
so much from the strength and mass of its agency, but 
counteracts and embarrasses all the rest. If the judg- 
ment holds in low estimation that which yet the pas- 
sions incline a man to pursue, his pursuit will be irregu- 
lar and inconstant, though it may have occasional fits 
of animation, when those passions happen to be highly 
stimulated. If there is an opposition between judg- 
ment and habit, though the man will probably continue 
to act mainly under the direction of habit in spite of 
his opinions, yet sometimes the intrusion of those 
1 opinions will have for the moment an effect like that of 
Prosperous wand on the limbs of Ferdinand ; and to be 
alternately impelled by habit, and checked by opinion, 
will be a state of vexatious debility. If two principal 



passions are opposite to each other, they will utterly 
distract any mmd, whatever might be the force of its 
faculties when acting without embarrassment. The 
one passion may be somewhat stronger than the other, 
and therefore just prevail barely enough to give a fee- 
ble impulse to the conduct of the man ; but no power- 
ful impulse can be given, till the disparity of these two 
rivals becomes greater, in consequence of the gradual 
weight of habit, or the reinforcement supplied by some 
new impressions, being added to the preponderating 
passion. The disparity must be no less than an abso- 
lute predominance of the one and subjection of the 
other, before the prevailing passion will have at liberty 
from the intestine conflict any large measure of its force 
to throw activity into the system of conduct. If, for 
instance, a man feels at once the love of fame which is 
to be gained only by arduous exertions, and an equal 
degree of the love of pleasure v/hich precludes those 
exertions ; if he is eager to show off in splendour, and 
yet anxious to save money ; if he has the curiosity of 
adventure, and yet that solicitude for his safety, which 
forbids him to climb a precipice, descend into a cavern, 
or explore a dangerous wild ; if he has the stern will 
of a tyrant, and yet the relentings of a man ; if he has 
the ambition which would subdue his fellow-mortals, 
counteracted by the humanity which would not hurt 
them ; we can easily anticipate the irresolute, contra- 
dictory tenour of his actions. Es])ecially if conscience, 
that great troubler of the human breast, loudly declares 
against a man's wishes or projects, it will be a fatal 
enemy to decision, till it either reclaim the delinquent 
passions, or be debauched or murdered by them. 

Lady Macbeth may be cited as a harmonious charac- 
ter, though the epithet seems strangely applied. She 
had capacity, aiiAition, and courage ; and she vy^illed 
the death of the king. Macbeth had still more capaci- 
ty, ambition, and courage ; and he also willed the mur- 
der of the king. But ho had, besides, humanity, ge- 
nerosity, conscience, and some measure of what forms 
the ■poiver of conscience, the fear of a Superior Being. 
Consequently, when the dreadful moment approached, 
he felt an insupportable conflict between these opposite 
principles, and when it was arrived, his utmost courage 
began to fail. The worst part of his nature fell pros- 
trate under the power of the better ; the angel of good- ' 
pess arrested the demon that grasped the dagger ; and 
would have taken that dagger away, if the pure demo- 
niac firmness of his wife, who had none of these coun- 
teracting principles, had not sham»d and hardened him 
to the deed. 

The poet's delineation of Richard III, gives a dread- 
ful specimen of this indivisibility of mental impulse. 
After his determination was fixed, his whole mind with 
the compactest fidelity supported him in prosecuting it 
Securely privileged from all interference of doubt that 
could linger, or humanity that could soften, or timidity 
that could shrink, he advanced with a grim, concentrat- 
ed constancy through scene after scene of atrocity, still 
fulfilling his vow to ' cut his way through with a bloody 
axe.' He did not waver while he pursued his object, 
nor relent when he seized it. 

Cromwell, (whom I mention as a parallel, not to 
Richard's depravity, but to his inflexible vigour) lost his 
mental consistency in the latter end of a career distin- 
guished by as much decision as the world ever saw. It 
appears that the wish to be a king, at last arose in a 
mind which had execrated royalty, and battled it from 
the land. As far as he really had any republican prin- 
ciples and partialities, this new desire must have 
been a very uncomplacent associate for them, and must 
have produced a sciiism in the breast where all tha 
strong forces of thought and passion had acted till then 
in concord. The new form of ambition became just 
predominant enough to carry him, by slow degrees, 
through the embarrassment and the shame of this incon- 
gruity, into an irresolute determination to assume the 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



27 



crown ; so irresolute, that he was reduced again to a 
mortifying indecision by the remonstrances of some 
of his friends, which he could have slighted, and by an 
apprehension of the public disapprobation, which he 
could have braved, if some of the principles of his own 
mind had not slrrunk or revolted from the design. 
"Vvlien at last the motives for relinquishing this design 
prevailed, it was by so small a degree of predominance, 
that his reluctant refusal of tlie offered crown was the 
voice only of half his soul. 

Not only tv\'o distinct counteracting passions, but one 
mssion interested for two objects, both equally desira- 
ble, but of which the man must be sacrificed, may an- 
nihilate in that instance the possibility of determined 
■conduct. I recollect reading in an old divine, a story 
ftrom an older historian, applicable to this remark. A 
father went to the agents of a tyrant, to endeavour to 
ledeem his two sons, military men, who with some 
other captives of war were condemned to die. He 
offered, as a ransom, to surrender his own life and a 
large sum of money. The tyrant's agents who had 
them in charge, informed him that this equivalent would 
be accepted for one of his sons, and for one only, be- 
cause they should be accountable for the execution of 
two persons ; he might therefore choose which he 
■would redeem. Anxious to save even one of them 
thus at the expense of his own life, he yet was unable 
to decide which would die, by choosing the other to. 
live, and remained in the agony of :l;is dilemma so 
long that they were both irreversibly ordered for exe- 
cution. 



LETTER V. 

Formidahh Power of Mischief which this high Qualify gives 
to bad Men — Care required to prevent its rendering good 
Men unconciliating and overhearing — Independence and 
over-ruling Manner in Cosvltation — Lord Chatham — 
Decision of Character not incompaiihlew-th Sensibility and 
mild Manners — But probably the Majority of the most 
eminent Emmp'es of it deficient in the kinder Affections — 
\King of Prussia — Situations in which it may be an abso- 
lute Duty to act in Opposition to the Promotings of those 
Affections. 

It were absurd to suppose that any human being can 
attain a ctate of mind capable of acting in all instances 
invariably with the full power of determination ; but it 
is obvious that many have possessed a habitual and 
very commanding measure of it ; and I think the pre- 
ceding remarks have taken account of its chief char- 
acteristics and constituent principles. A number of 
additional observations remain. 

The slightest view of human affairs shows what fatal 
and ample mischief may be caused by men of this cha- 
racter, when misled or wicked. You have but to re- 
collect the conquerors, despots, bigots, unjust conspira- 
tors, and single villains of every class, who have blast- 
ed society bv the relentless vigour which could act con- 
sistently and heroically wrong. 'Till therefore the vir- 
tue of mankind be greater, there is reason to be pleased 
that so few of them are endowed with extraordinary 
decision. 

When this character is dignified bv wisdom and 
principle, great care is yet required in the possessors of 
it to prevent it from becoming unamiable. As it in- 
volves much practical assertion of superiority ove.' other 
human beings, the manner ought to be as mild and con- 
ciliating as possible ; else pride will feel provoked, af- 
fection hurt, and weakness oppressed. But this man- 
ner'is not the one which will be most natural to such a 
man ; r^ither it will be that of sternness, reserve, and 
incompliance. He will have the appearance of keep- 
ing himself always at a distance from social equality ; 
and his friend* will feel as if their friendsihp were con- 
tinually slidingr into subserviency ; while his intimate 
connexions will think he does not attach the due im- 



portance either to their opinions or to their regard. Hio 
manner, when they differ from him, or complain, will bo 
in danger of giving the impression of careless inatten- 
tion, and sometimes of disdain. 

When he can accomplish a design in his own per- 
son alone, he may separate himself to the work with 
the cold self-inclosed individuality on which no one has 
any hold, which seems to recognize no kindred being 
in the world, which takes little account of good wishes 
and kind concern, any more than it cares for opposi- 
tion ; which seeks neither aid nor sympathy, and which 
seems to say, I do not want any of you, and I am glad 
that I do not ; leave me alone to succeed or die. This 
has a very repellent effect on the friends who wished to 
feel themselves of some importance, in some way or 
other, to a person whom they are constrained to respect. 
When assistance is indispensable to his underta.kings, 
his mode of signifying it will seem rather to command 
the co-operation, than to invite it. 

In consultation, his manner will indicate that when 
he is equally with the rest in possession of the circum- 
stances of the case, he does not at all expect to hear any 
opinions that shall correct his own ; but is satisfied that 
either his present conce^jtion of the subject is the just 
one, or that his own mind mast originate that which 
shall be so. This striking difference will be apparent 
between him and his associates, that their manner of 
receiving his opinions is that of agreement or dissent ; 
his manner of receiving theirs is that of sanction or re- 
jection. He has the tone of authoritatively deciding 
on what they sav, but never of submitting to decision 
of what himself says. Their coincidence with his 
views does not give him a firmer assurance of his being 
right, nor their dissent any o-ther impression than that 
of their incapacity to judge. If his feeling took the 
distinct form of a reflection, it would be. Mine is the 
business of comprehending and devising, and I am 
here to rule this company, and not to consult them ; I 
want their docility and not their arguments ; I am come, 
not to seek their co-operatiOn in thinking, but to deter- 
mine their concurrence in executing what is already 
thought for them. Of course, many suggestions and 
reasons which appear important to those from whom 
they come, will be disposed of by him with a transient 
attention, or a light facility, that will seem very disre- 
spectful to persons who possibly hesitate to admit that 
he is a derai-god, and that they are but idiots. Lord 
Chatham, in going out of the House of Commons, just 
as one of the speakers against him concluded his 
speech by emphatically urging what he perhaps rightly 
thought the unanswerable question, ' Where can we 
find means to support such a warT turned round a 
moment, and gaily replied, ' Gentle Shepherd, tell me 
where.' 

Even the assenting convictions, and practical com- 
pliances, yielded by degrees to this decisive man, may 
be somewhat undervalued ; as they will appear to him 
no more than simply coming, and that perhaps .very 
slowly, to a right apprehension; whereas himself un- 
derstood and decided justly from the first, and has been 
right all this while. 

He will be in danger of extending but little tolerance 
to the prejudices, hesitation, and timidity, of those with 
whom he has to act. He will say to himself, I wish 
there were any thing like manhood among the beings 
called men ; and that they could have the sense and 
spirit not to let themselves be hampered by so many 
silly notions and childish fears. Why cannot they either 
determine with some promptitude, or let me, that can, 
do it for them"! Am I to wait till debility become 
strong, and folly wisel If full scope be allowed to 
these tendencies, they will make even a man of eleva cd 
virtue a tyrant, who, in the consciousness of the right 
intention, and the assurance of the wise contrivance, 
of his designs, will hold himself justified in being re- 
gardless of every thing but the accomplishment of them. 



m 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



He will foraet. all respeci for the feelings and liberties 
of beings who are to be regarded as but a subordinate 
Biachmery. to be actuated, or to be thrown aside when 
not actuated, by the spring of his commanding spirit. 

I have before asserted that this strotig character may 
be exhilited with a milden^s of manner, and that, gene- 
rally, it will thus best sccire its efficacy. But this 
mildness must olten be at the cost of great effort ; and 
how nv-ch considerate policy or benevolent forbearance 
it will require, for a man to exert his utmost vigour in 
the very tasK, as it will appear to him at the time, of 
cramping that vigour ! Lycurgus appears to have been 
a high example of mild patience in the firm prosecution 
of designs which were to be effected among a perverse 
muLitude. 

It is probable that the men most distinguished for 
decision, have not, in general, possessed a large share 
of tenderness ; and it is easy to miagine that the laws 
of o'.ir nature will with great difficulty allow the combi- 
nation of the refined sensibilities with a hardy, never- 
shrinking, never-yielding constancy. Is it not almost 
of the essence of this constancy to be free from even 
the perception of such impressions as cause a mind, 
weak, through susceptibility, to relax or waver; just as 
the skin of the elephant, or the armour of the rhinoce- 
ros, would be but indistinctly sensible to the applica- 
tion of a force by which a small animal, with a skin of 
thin and delicate texture, would be pierced or lacerated 
to death \ No doubt, this firmness consists partly in 
overcoming feelings, but it mav consist partly too in 
not having them. To be tremblinijly alive to gentle 
impressions, and yet to be able to preserve, when the 
prosecution of a design requires it, an immoveable 
heart, amid.st the most imperious causes of subduing 
emotion, is perhaps not an impossible, constitution of 
mind, but it must be the rarest endowment of humanity. 

If you take a view of the first rank of decisive men, 
you will o!iserve that their faculties have lieen too much 
bent to arduous effort, their souls have been kept in too 
military an attitude, they have been begirt with too 
much iron, for the melting movements of the heart. 
Their whole being appears too much arrogated and oc- 
cupied by the spirit of severe design, compelling them 
to work systematically toward some defined end, to be 
suffic ently at ease for the indolent complacency, the 
soft lassitude, of gentle affections, which love to sur- 
render themselves to the present feflicities, forgetful of 
all ' enterprises of great pith and moment.' The man 
seems rigorously intent still on his own affairs, as he 
walks, or regales, or mingles with domestic society ; 
and a])pears to despise all the feelings that will not take 
rank with the grave labours and decisions of intellect, 
or coalesce with the unremitting passion which is his 
spring of action : he values not feelings which he can- 
not employ either as weapons or as engines. He loves 
to be actuated by a passion so strong as to compel into 
exercise the utmost force of his being, and fix him in a 
tone, compared with which, the gentle affections, if he 
had felt them, would be accounted lameness, and their 
exciting causes, insipidity. 

Yet we cannot willingly allow that tenderness is to- 
tally incompatible with the most impregnable inflexi- 
bility; nor can we help believing that such men as 
Timoleon, Alfred, and Gustavus Adolphus, must have 
been very fascinating domestic associates, whenever 
the \irgency of their affairs would allow them to with- 
draw fro n the interests of statesmen and warriors, to 
indulge the affections of men : most fascinating, for, 
with a relative or friend who had any right perceptions, 
all the value of their stronger character would be recog- 
nized in the gentler one ; the man whom nothing could 
subdue, would exalt the quality of the tenderness which 
softened him to recline. 

But it were much easier to enumerate a long train of 
ancient and modern names of men, who have had the 
decision without the softness. Perhaps indeed they 



have yielded sometimes to some species of love, »» » 
mode of amusing their passions for an interval, till 
greater engagements have summ.oned them into their 
proper element ; when they have shown how little the 
sentiment ever belonged to the heart, by the ease with 
which they could relinquish the temporary favourite. 
In other cases, where there have not been the selfish 
inducements, which this passion supplies, to the exhi- 
bition of something like softness, and where they have 
been left to the pure sympathies of humanity alone, no 
rock on the face of the earth could be harder. 

The celebrated King of Prussia occ\irs to me, as a 
capital instance of the decisive character ; and there 
occurs to me, at the same time, one of the anecdotes 
of his life.* Intending to make, in the night, an im- 
portant movement in his camp, which was in sight of 
the enemy, he gave orders that by eight o'clock all the 
lights in the camp should be put out, on pain of death 
The moment that the time was past, he walked out 
himself to see whether all were dark. He found a « 
light in the tent of a Captain Zietern, which he entered 
just as the officer was folding up a letter. Zietem 
knew him, and instantly fell on his knees to entreat his 
mercy. The king asked to whom he had been writing ; 
he said it was a letter to his wife, which he had retained 
the candle these few minutes beyond the time in order 
to finish. The king coolly ordered him to rise, and 
write one line more, which he should dictate. This 
line was to inform his wife, without any explanation, 
that by such an hour the next day, he should be a dead 
man. The letter was then sealed, and despatched as i* 
had been intended ; and, the next day, the Captain 
was executed. I say nothing of the justice of the 
punishment itself; but this cool barbarity to t!",e affec- 
tion both of the officer and his wife, was enough to 
brand the character indelibly. It proved how little the 
decisive hero and pretended philosopher was suscepti- 
ble of such an affection, or capable of sympathizing 
with its pains. 

At the same time, it is proper to observe, that the 
case may easily occur, in which a man must be resolute 
to act in a manner which may make him appear to waat 
the finer feelings. He must do what he knows will 
cause pain to persons who will feel it severely. He may 
be obliged to resist affectionate wishes, expostulations, 
entreaties, and tears. Take this same instance. If the 
wife of Zietern had come to supplicate for him, not 
only the remission of the punishment of death, but an 
exemption from any other severe punishment, which 
was perhaps justly due to the violation of such an 
order, on so important an occasion, it had then probably 
been the duty and the virtue of the commander to deny 
the most interesting suppliant, and to resist the most pa- 
thetic appeals which could have been made to his feelings. 



LETTER VI. 

Circumstances tending to consolidaie this Character — Oppo- 
sition — Desertion — Mnrius — Salin — Charles de 3I')or — 
Success has the same Tendency — CcEsnr — Hahit of Asso- 
ciating with Inferiors — .Voluntary means of forming or 
confirming this Character — The Acquisition of perfect 
K'lovile.dge in the Department in uMch we are to art — The. 
Cultivation of a connected and Conclusive Manner -of 
reasoning — The resolute cmnmencement of Action in a 
Manner to commit onrsrlves irretrievahly — Ledyard — The 
^■choice of a dignijicd Order of Concerns — The Apprnhation 
' of Conscience — Yet melancholy to consider how viany of 
the most distinguished Possessors of the Quality have been 
wicked. 

Various assignable circumstances may contribute 
much to confirm the character inquestion. I shallju's-t 
notice two or three. , 

* The avitheniicity of this anecdote, which I read in some tri- 
flini; fugitive publication many years since, has been quest. ..ned. 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



29 



And first opposition. The passions which inspirit 
men to resistance, and sustain them in it, such as 
anger, indignation, and resentment, are evidently far 
stronger than those which have reference to friendly 
objects ; and if any of these strong passions are fre- 
quently excited by opposition, they infuse a certain 
quality into the general temperament of the mind which 
remains after the imn^ediate excitement is past. They 
co-ntinually strengthen the principle of re-action ; they 
put the mind in the habitual array of defence and self- 
assertion, and often give it the aspect and the posture 
of a gladiator, when there appears no confronting com- 
batant. When these passions are felt by the man whom 
I describe, it is probable that each excitement is follow- 
ed by a greater increase of this principle of re-action than 
in other men, because this result is so congenial with 
his naturally resolute disposition. Let him be opposed 
then, through the whole course of an extended design, 
or in the general tenourof his actions ; and this constant 
opposition would render him the service of an ally by 
corroborating his hifiexibility. An irresolute mind in- 
deed might be quelled and subjugated by a formidable 
kind of 0{)position ; but the strong wind which blows out 
a. ta])er, augments a powerful fire, if there is fuel enough 
to an nidefinite intensity. 

I believe you will find in fact that many of the indi- 
viduals most eminently decisive in conduct, have made 
their way through opposition and contest ; in which 
they have acquired both a prompt, acuteness of faculty, 
and an inflexibility of temper, which even strong minds 
could never have attained in the tame security of facile, 
friendlv coincidence. Verv often, however, it is grant- 
ed the firmness matured bv such discipline is accom- 
panied, in a in;tn of virtue, with a Catonic severity, and 
in a mere man of the world, virith an unhuinanized, re- 
pulsive hardness. 

Descrtinri is another caus2 which may conduce to 
consolidate this character. A khid, mutually reclining 
dependence, is certainly the happiest state of human 
be:ngs ; but this necessarily prevents the development 
of some great individual powers which would be forced 
into action bv a state of desertion. I lately happened 
to no'^icc, with some surprise, an ivy, which being pre- 
vented from attaching itself to the rock beyond a cer- 
tain ;)oint, had shot off into a bold, elastic stem, with an 
air of as much independence as any branch of oak in the 
vicinity. So a human being, thiovvn, whether by cruel- 
ty, justice, or accident, fro.n all social support and 
kindness, if lie has any vigour of spirit, and is not in 
the bodily debility of cither childhood or age, will in- 
stantly begin to act for himself with a resolution which 
will ajipear like a new faculty. And the most absolute 
inflexibility is likely (o characterize the resolution of 
an iudividual*who is obliged to deliberate without con- 
sultation, and execute without assistance. He will dis- 
dain to concede to beings that have rejected him, or to 
foie«fo a single particle of his designs or advantages, for 
the sake of the opinions or the will of all the world. 
Himself, his pursuits, and his interests, are emphatically 
his own. ' The world is not his friend, nor the world's 
law,' and therefore be becomes regardless of every 
thing but its power, of which his policy carefully 
takes the measure, in order to ascertain his own means 
of action and impunity, as set against the world's means 
of annovance, prevention, and retaliation. 

If this person has but little humanity or principle, ho 
will become a misanthrope, or perhaps a villain, that 
will re.^emble a solitary wdd beast of the night, which 
makes prey of every thing it can overpower, and cares 

, Possibly enough it might be one of the many but halftrue stories 
which cuukl not f^il to so abroail concerning a man wlio made. 
In his day, sn great a figure. But as it does not at all misrepre- 
sent the general character of his mind, since there are many 
Incutitrnveriible facts proving against him as a great degree of de- 
liberate cruelty as this anecdote would charge on liim" the want 
ef means to prove this one fact does not seem to impose any ue 
•easily for omittuig the illustraiiou. 



for nothing but fire. If he is < apable of grand concep- 
tion and enterprise, he may, like Spartacus. make a 
daring attempt against the whole social order of the state 
where he has been oppressed. If he has great human- 
ity and principle, he may become one of the noblest of 
mankind, and display a generous virtue to which society 
had no claim, and which it is not worthy to reward, if 
it should at last become incUned. No. he will say, 
give your rewards to another ; as it has been no pait of 
my object to gain them, they are not necessary to my 
satisfaction. I have done good, without expecting your 
gratitude, and without caring for your approbation. If 
conscience and my Creator had not been niore auspi- 
cious than you, none of these virtues would ever have 
opened to the day. When I ought to have been an ob- 
ject of your compassion, I might have perished ; now, 
when you find I can serve your interests, you will affect 
to acknowledge me and reward me ; I will not accept 
your rewards. — In either case, virtuous or wicked, the 
man who has been compelled to do without assistance, 
will spurn interference. 

Common life would supply illustrations' of the effect 
of desertion. Some of the most resolute men have be- 
come such, partly from being left friendless in earlv life. 
The case has also sometimes happened, that a wife and 
mother, remarkable perhaps for gentleness and acquies- 
cence before, has been compelled, after the death of 
her husband on whom she depended, and when she has 
met with nothing but neglect or unkindness from relati ves 
and those who had been deemed friends, to adopt apian 
of her own, and has executed it with a resolution which 
has astonished even herself 

One regrets that the signal examples, real or ficti- 
tious, that most readily present themselves, are still of 
the depraved order, t fancy myself to see Marius sit- 
ting on the ruins of Carthage, where no arch or column 
that remained unshaken amidst the desolation, could 
present a stronger image of a firmness beyond the 
power of calamitous events to subdue. The rigid con- 
stancy which had before distinguished his character, 
would be aggravate* by his finding himself thus an 
outcast from all human society ; and he would proudly 
shake off every sentiment that had ever for an instant 
checked his designs bv reminding him of social obliga- 
tions. The lonely individual was placed in the alter- 
native of becoming the victim or the antagonist of the 
power of the empire. -While, with a spirit capable of 
confronting that power, he resolved, amidst those ruins, 
on a great e.icperimeni, he would enjoy a kind of sullen 
luxury in surveying the dreary situation, and recollect- 
ing the circumstances of his expulsion ; since they 
would seem to him to sanction an unlimited vengeance ; 
to present what had been his country as the pure legit- 
imate prize for desperate achievement ; and to give him 
a proud consequence in being reduced to maintain 
singly a quarrel against the bulk of mankind. He 
would exult that nis desolate condition gave him a proof 
of his possessing a mind which no misfortunes could re- 
press or intimidate, and that it kindled an animosity in- 
tense enough to force that mind from firm endurance 
into impetuous action. He would feel as if he became 
stronger for enterprise, in proportion as he became 
more inexorable ; and the sentiment with which he 
quitted his solitude would be, Rome expelled her pa- 
triot, let her receive her evil genius. 
' The decision of Satan, in Paradise Lost, is repre- 
sented as consolidated by his reflections on his hoj)e- 
less banishment from heaven, which oppress him with 
sadness for a moment, but he soon resumes his in- 
vincible spirit, and utters the impious but subl me sea- 
timent, 

' What matter where, if I he still the same.' 
You remember how this effect of desertion is repre- 
sented in Charles de Moor. His father's supposed cruel 
rejection consigned him irretrievably to the career of 
atrocious enterprise, in which, notwithstanding the most 



>o 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



interesting emotions of humanity and tenderness, he 

Eersistcd with heroic determination till he considered 
is destiny as accomplished. v 

Success tends considerably to reinforce this charac- 
ter. It is true that a man possessinjj it in a high de- 
gree will not lose it by occasional failure ; f*r if the 
failure was caused by something entirely beyond the 
reach of all human knowledge and ability, he will re- 
member that fortitude is the virtue required in meeting 
unfavourable events which in no sense depended on 
him ; if by something which might have been known 
and prevented, he will feel that even the experience of 
failure completes his competence, by admonishing his 
prudence, and enlarging his understanding. But as all 
schemes and measures of action have reference to some 
end, and if wise, are correctly adapted to attain that 
end, continual failure would show something essen- 
tially wrong in a man's system, and either destroy his 
cbnfidence, or prove it to be mere absiirdity or obstina- 
cy. On the contrary, when a man has ascertained by 
experiment the justness of his calculations and the ex- 
tent of his powers, whew he has measured his force 
with various persons, when he has braved and conquer- 
ed difficulty, and partly seized the prize, he v/ill ad- 
vance with increasing assurance to the trials which still 
await him. 

In some men whose lives have been spent in con- 
stant perils, continued success has produced a confi- 
dence beyond its rational effect, by inspiring a persua- 
sion that the common laws of human affairs were, in 
their case, superseded by the decrees of a peculiar des- 
tiny, securing them from almost the possibility of dis- 
aster ; and this superstitious feeling, though it has dis- 
placed the unconquerable resolution from its rational 
basis, has yet often produced the most wonderful ef 
fects. This per.suasion dictated Csssar's expression to 
the mariner who was terrified at the storm and billows, 
'What art thou afraid of 1 ^ Thy vessel carries Cassar.' 
This idea had some influence among the intrepid men 
in the time of the English Commonwealth. 

The wilfulness of an obstinate person is sometimes 
fortified by so r.e single instance of remarkable suc- 
cess in his undertakings, which is promptly recalled in 
every case where his decisions are questioned or op- 
posed, as a proof that he must in this instance too be 
right ; especially if that one success happened contrary 
to vonr predictions. 

t shall only add, and without illustration, that the 
habit of associating with inferiors, among whom a man 
can always, and therefore does always, take the lead, 
is very conducive to a subordinate kind of decision of 
character. You may see ihis exemplified any day in an 
ignorant country 'squire among his vassals ; especially 
if he we.ars the superadded majesty of Justice of the 
Peace. 

In viewing the characters and actions of the men 
who have possessed the supreme degree of the quality 
which I have attempted to describe, one cannot but wish 
it were y.ossible to know how much of this astonishing 
superiority was created by the circumstances in which 
thev were placed ; but it seems inevitable to beheve 
that there was some vast difference from ordinary men 
in the very structurfe of the mind. In observing lately 
a man who appi3ared too vacant almost to think of a 
purpose, too indifferent to resolve upon it, and too 
slufjffish to execute it if he had resolved, I was dis- 
tinctly struck with the idea of the difference between 
him and Marius, of whom I happened to have been 
thinking ; and I felt it utterly beyond my power to be- 
lieve that any circumstances on earth, though ever so 
perfectly combined and adapted, would have produced 
m this man, if placed under their fullest influence' from 
bis childhood, any resemblance (beyond perhaps a di- 
minutive kind of revenge and cruelly) of the formida- 
ble Rom.an. 

It is needless to discuss whether a person who is 



practically evinced, at the age of maturity, to want th« 
stamina of this character, can, by any process, acquire 
it. Indeed such a person cannot have sufficient force 
of will to make the complete experiment. If there is 
the unconquerable will that would persist to seize all 
possible means, and apply them in order to attain such 
an end, it would prove the existence already of a high 
degree of the character sought ; and if there is not thk 
will, how then is the supposed attainment possible 1 

Yet though it is improbable that a very irresolute 
man can ever become a habitually decisive one, it should 
be observed, that since there are many degrees of de- 
termined character, and since the essential principles 
of it, partially existing in those degrees, cannot be sup- 
posed subject to an absolute and ultimate limitation, 
hke the dimension of the bodily stature, it might be 
possible to apply a discipline which should advance a 
man from the first degree to the second, and from that 
to the third, and how much farther — it will be well worth 
his trying, after he shall have made this first progress. 
I have but a verj' imperfect conception of the discipline ; 
but will suggest a hint or two. 

And in the first place, the indispensable necessity of 
a clear and comprehensive knowledge of the concerns 
before us, seems too obvious for remark ; and yet no 
man has been sufficiently sensible of it, till he has been 
placed in circumstances which forced him to act before 
he had time, or after he had made ineffectual efforts, to 
obtain the needful information. The pain of having 
brought things to an unfortunate issue, is hardly greater 
than that of proceeding in the conscious ignorance 
which continually threatens such an issue. While thus 
proceeding without plan or guide, because he positively 
cannot be permitted to remain in inaction, a man looks 
round for information as eagerly as a benighted wan- 
derer would for the hght of a human dwelling. He 
perhaps labours to recal what he thinks he once heard 
or read in relation to a similar situation, without dream- 
ing at the time he heard or read it, that such instruct)on 
could ever be of importance to him ; and is distressed 
to find that he cannot accurately recollect it. He 
would give a considerable sum, if some particular book 
could be brought to him at the instant ; or a certain 
document which he believes to be in existence ; or the 
detail of a process, the terms of a prescription, or the 
model of an implement. He thinks how many people 
know, without its being of any present use to them, 
exactly what could be of such important service to him, 
if he could kiiovv it. In some cases, a line, a sentence, a 
monosyllable of affirming or denying, or a momentary 
sight of an object, would be inexpressibly valuable and 
welcome. And he resolves that if he can once happily 
escape from the present difficulty, he will apply himself 
day and night to obtain knowledge, rather than be so 
involved and harassed again. It might even be of ser- 
vice to have been occasionally forced to act under the 
disadvantage of conscious ignorance, if the affair was 
not very important, nor the consequence very injurious, 
as an effectual lesson on the necessity of knowledge 
in order to decision either of plan or execution. It is 
indeed an extreme case that will compel a considerate 
man to act without knowledge ; yet he may often be 
necessitated to proceed to action, when he is sensible 
his information does not extend to the whole of the 
concern in which he is going to commit himself And 
in this case, he will feel no little uneasiness, while 
transacting that part of it in which his knowledge is 
competent, when he looks forward to the point where 
that knowledge terminates ; unless he is conscious of 
a very prompt faculty of catching information at the 
moment that he wants it for use ; as Indians set out 
on a long journey with but a small stock of provision 
because they are certain that their bows or guns will 
procure it by the vi'ay. It is one of the nicest pc'nts 
of wisdom to decide how much less than complete 
knowledge in any question of practical interest, will 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



31 



warrant a man to venture on an undertaking, in the pre- 
sumption that the deficiency will be supplied in time to 
prevent either perplexity or disaster. 

A thousand familiar instances show the effect of per- 
fect knowledge on determination. An artizan may be 
eaid to be decisive as to the mode of working a piece 
of iron or w-ood, because he is certain of the proper 
process and the effect. A man perfectly acquainted 
with the intricate paths of a district, takes the right one 
without a moment's hesitation ; while a stranger who 
has only some very vague information, is lost in per- 
plexity. It is easy to imagine what a number of cir- 
cumstances mav occur in the course of a life or even of 
a year, in which a man cannot thus readily determine, 
and thus, confidently proceed, without an extent and an 
exactness of knowledge which few persons have appli- 
cation enough to acquire. 

In connexion with the necessity of knowledge, I 
would suggest the importance of cultivating, with the 
utmost industry, a conclusive manner of reasoning. In 
the first place, let the general course of thinking be rea- 
soning ; for it should be remembered that this name 
docs not belong to a series of thoughts and fancies 
which follow one another without deduction or depen- 
dence, and which can therefore no more bring a sub- 
ject to a proper issue, than a number of separate links 
will answer the mechanical purpose of a chain. The 
conclusion which terminates such a series, does not de- 
serve the name of result, since it has little more than a 
casual connexion with what went before ; the conclu- 
sion might as well have taken place in an earlier point 
of the train, or have been deferred till that train had 
been extended much farther. Instead of having been 
busily employed in this kind of thinking, for perhaps 
many hours, a man might as well have been sleeping 
all the time ; since the single thought which is now 
to determine his conduct, might have happened to be 
the first thought that occurred to him on awaking. It 
only happens to occur to him now ; it does not follow 
from what he has been thinking all these hours ; at 
least he c^^nnot prove that some other thought might 
not just as properly have come in its place, at the end 
of this long series. It is easy to see how feeble that 
determination is likely to be, which is formed on so 
narrow a ground as the last accidental idea that comes 
into the mind, or on so loose a ground as this crude un- 
combined assemblage of ideas. Indeed it is difficult 
to form a determination at all on such slight ground. 
A man delays, and waits for some more satisfactory 
thought to occur to him ; and perhaps he has not wait- 
ed long, before an idea arises in his mind of a quite 
contrary tendency to the last. As this additiolnal idea 
is not, more than that which preceded it, the result of 
any process of reasoning, nor iirings with it any argu- 
ments, it is likely to give place soon to another, and 
still another ; and they are all in succession of equal 
authority, that is, of none. If at last an idea occurs to 
him which seems of considerable authority, he may 
here make a stand, and adopt his resolution, with firm- 
ness, as he thinks, and commence the execution. But 
still, as he cannot verify the authority of the principle 
which has determined him, his resolution is likely to 
prove treacherous and evanescent in any serious trial. 
A principle so- Utile defended and established by sound 
reasoning, is not terra firma for a man to trust himself 
upon : it is only as a slight incrustation on a yielding 
clement ; it is like the sand on the surface of the lake 
Serbonis, which broke away under the unfortunate 
army wliich had begun to advance on it, mistaking it 
for solid ground. — These remarks may seem to refer 
only to a single instance of deliberation ; but they are 
equally applicable to all the deliberations and under- 
takings of a man's life-; the same closely connected 
manner of thinking, which is so necessary to give firm- 
ness of determination and of conduct in a particular in- 



stance, will, if habitual, greatly contribute to form a 
decisive character. 

Not only should thinking be thus reduced by a rigid 
discipline, to a train, in which all the pans at once de- 
pend upon and support one another, but also this train 
sh«uld be followed on to a full conclusion. It should 
be held as an absolute law, that the question must be 
disposed of before it is let alone. The mind may carry 
on this accurate process to some length, and then slop 
through indolence, or divert through levity ; but it can - 
never possess that rational confidence in its opinions 
which is requisite to the character in question, till it is 
conscious of acquiring them from trains of reasoning 
which are followed on to their result. The habit of 
thinking thus completely is indispensable to the charac- 
ter in general ; and in any particular instance, it is 
found that short pieces of trains of reasoning, though 
correct as far as they go, are inadequate to qualify a 
man for the immediate concern. They are besides of 
little value for the assistance of future thinking ; be- 
cause from being left thus incomplete, they are but 
slightl) retained by the mind, and soon sink away ; in 
the ' same manner as walls left unfinished speedily 
moulder 

After these remarks, I should take occasion to ob- 
serve, that a vigorous exercise of thought may some- 
times for a while seem to increase the difliculty of 
decision, by discovering a great number of unthought- 
of reasons for a measure and against it, so that even a 
discriminating mind may, during a short space, find it- 
self in the state of the magnetic needle under the equa- 
tor. But no case in the world can really have this per- 
fect equality of opposite reasons ; nor will it long ap- 
pear to have it, in the estimate of a clear and strongly 
exerted intellect, which after some time will ascertain, 
though the difference is small, which side of the ques- 
tion has twenty, and which has but nineteen. 

Another thing that would powerfully assist toward 
complete decision, both in the particular instance, and 
in the general spirit of the character, is for a man to 
place himself in a situation like that in which Ca-^sar 
placed his soldiers, when he burnt the ships which 
brought them to land. If his judgment is really de- 
cided, let him commit himself irretrievably by doing 
something which shall compel him to do more, which 
shall necessitate him to do all. If a man resolves as a 
general intention to be a philanthropist, I would say to 
him. Form some actual plan of philanthropy, and begin 
the execution of it to-morrow, (perhaps I should say 
lo-day,) so explicitly, that you cannot rehnquish it 
without becoming despicable even in your own estima- 
tion. If a man would be a hf ro, let him, if it is possi- 
ble to fi.nd a good cause in arms, go instantly to the 
camp. If a man would be a traveller through distant 
countries, let him actually prepare to set off. Let, him 
not still dwell, in imagination, on mountains, rivers, and 
temples ; but give directions about his remittances, his 
clothes, or the carriage, or the vessel, in which he. i^ to 
go. Ledyard surprised the official person who asked 
him how soon he could be ready to set off for the inte- 
rior of Africa, by replying promptly and firmly, ' To- 
morrow.' 

Again, it is highly conducive to a manly firmness, 
that the interests in which it is exerted, should be of a 
dignified order, so as to give the passions an ample 
scope, and a noble object. The degradation that should 
devote these passions to mean and trivial pursuits ^ 
would, in general, I should think, likewise debilitate 
their energy, and therefore preclude strength of cha- 
racter. 

And finally, if I would repeat that one should think 
a man's own conscientious approbation of his conduct 
must be of vast importance to his decision in the outset, 
and his persevering constancy, I must at the same time 
acknowledge that it is astonishing to observe how many 



32 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



of the eminent examples have been very wicked men. 
These must certainly be deemed also examples of the 
origin I want, or the depravation, or the destruction, of 
the moral sense. 

I am sorry, and I attribute it to defect of memory, 
thai a greater proportion of the illustrations introduced 
in this essay, are not as conspicuous for goodness as for 
power. It is melancholy to contemplate beings, whom 
our imagination represents as capable, (when they pos- 
sessed great external means in addition to the force of 



their minds.) of the grandest utility, capable of vindi- 
cating each good cause which has languished in a world 
adverse to all goodness, and capable of intimidating 
the collective vices of a nation or an age — becoming 
themselves the very centres and volcanoes of those 
vices ; and it is melancholy to follow them in serious 
thought, from this region, of which not all the powers 
and difHculties and inhabitants together, could have sub- 
dued their adamantine resolution, to the Supreme Tri- 
bunal where thai resolution must tremble and melt away. 



ESSAY III. 



ON THE APPLICATION OF THE EPITHET ROMANTIC 



LETTER I. 

(xreat convenience of having a number of Words that iiill an- 
swer the Purposes of Ridicule or Reprobrdion without hav- 
ing any precise Meaning — Puritan — Methodist — Jacobin 
— The word Romantic of the greatest Service to Persons, 
who wanting to s/jqu) their Scorn, have not mherev-ithal in 
the way of Sense or IVit — Whenever this Epithet is ap- 
plied, let the exact meaning be demandtd — Does it attribute, 
to what it is applied to, the kind of Absurdity prevalent in 
the works called Romances ? — That absurdity was from the 
predominance, in various Mides. of Imagination over 

■ Judgment — Mental Character of the early Romance Wri- 
ters — Opposite Character of Cervantes— Delightful, delu- 
sive, and rnisrhievojcs Operation of a predominant Imagi- 
nation — Yet desirable, for s veral Reasons, that the Imagi- 
nation should have this Ascendancy in early Life. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, 

A thoughtful judge of sentiments, books, and men, 
will oftei. find reason to regret that the language of 
censure is so easy and so undefined. It costs no la- 
bour, and needs no intellect, to pronounce the words, 
foolish, stupid, dull, odious, absurd, ridiculous. The 
weakest or most uncultivated mind may therefore gra- 
tify its vanity, laziness, and malice, all at once, by a 
prompt application of vague, condemnatory words, 
where a wise and liberal man would not feel himself 
warranted to pronounce without the most deliberate 
consideration, and where such consideration might per- 
haps terminate in applause. Thus the most excellent 
performances, whether in the department of thinkino-, 
or of action, might be consigned to contempt, if there 
were no better judges, on the authority of those who 
could not even understand them. A man who wishes 
some decency and sense to prevail m the circulation of 
opinions, will do well, when he hears these decisions 
of ignorant arrogance, to call for a precise explication 
of the manner in which the terms apply to the subject. 

There is a competent number of words for this use 
of cheap censure ; but though a man deems himself to 
be giving no mean proof of sagacity in this confident 
readiness to condemn, even with this impotence of lan- 
guage, he may however, have a certain consciousness 
that there is, in some other minds, a keen dexterity 
which would find expressions to bite harder than the 



words, dull, stupid, and ridiculous, which he is repeat- 
ing many times to compensate for the incapacity of hit» 
ting off the right thing at once. These vague epithets 
describe nothing, discriminate nothing ; thcv express 
no species, are as applicable to ten thousand things as 
to this one, and he has before employed them on a 
numberless diversity of subjects. But he can pe'rceive 
that censure or contempt has the smartest effect,- when 
its expressions have an appropriate peculiantv, which 
adapts them more precisely to the present subject than 
to another ; and he is therefore not quite satisfied with 
the expressions which say 'about it and about it,' but 
do not say the thing itself ; which rather show his mis- 
chievous will than prove his mischievous power. He 
wants words and phrases which would make the edge 
of his clumsy meaning fall just where it ought. Yes, 
he wants words ; for his meaning is sharp, he knows, if 
onlv the words would come. 

Discriminative censure must be conveyed, either in a 
sentence which expresses some marked and acute turn 
of thought, instead of simply applying an epithet, or in 
an epithet so specifically appropriate, that the single 
word is sufficient to fix the condemnation by the mere 
precision with which it describes. But as the censurer 
perhaps cannot succeed in either of these ways, he is 
willing to seek some other resource. And he may often 
find it in cant terms, which have a more spiteful force, 
and seem to have more particularity of meaning, than 
plain, common words, without needing any shrewdness 
for their application. Each of these is supj)0sed to 
denominate some one class or character of scorned or 
reprobated things, but leaves it so imperfectly ,defined, 
that dull maUce may venture to assign to the class any 
thing which it would desire to throw under the odium 
of the denomination. Such words serve for a mode 
of collective execution, somewhat like the vessels 
which, in a season of outrage in a neighbouring coun- 
try, received a promiscuous crovvd of reputed criminals, 
of unexamined and dubious similarity, and were then 
sunk in the flood. You cannot wonder that such com- 
pendious words of decision, which can give quick vent 
to crude impatient censure, emit plenty of antipathy in- 
a few syllables, and save the condemnor the difficultj 



/ 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



33 



of telling exactly, what he wants to mean, should have 
had an extensive circulation. 

Puritan was, doubtless, welcomed as a term most 
luckily invented or recalled when it began to be applied 
in contempt to a class of men, of whom the world was 
not worthy. Its peculiarity gave it almost such an ad- 
vantage as that of a proper name among the lumber of 
common words by which they were described and re- 
viled ; while yet it meant any thing, every thing, which 
the vain world disliked in the devout and conscientious 
character. To the more sluggish it saved, and to the 
more loquacious it relieved, the labour of endlessly re- 
peating, ' demure rogues,' ' sanctimonious pretenders,' 
' formal hypocrites.' 

This term has long since lost its point, and is almost 
forgotten ; but some word of a similar cast was indis- 
pensably necessary to the vulgar of both kinds. The 
vain and malignant spirit which had descried the ele- 
vated piety of the Puritans, sought about (as Milton 
describes the wicked one in Paradise) for some conve- 
nient form in which it might again come forth to hiss 
at zealous Christianity ; and in another lucky moment 
fell on the term Methodist. If there is no sense in the 
word, as now applied, there seems however to be a great 
deal of aptitude and execution. It has the advantage 
of being comprehensive as a general denomination, and 
yet opprobrious as a special badge, for every thing that 
ignorance and folly may mistake for fanaticism, or that 
malice may wilfully assign to it. Whenever a grave 
formalist feels it his duty to sneer at those operations 
of religion on the passions, which he never felt, he has 
only to call them methodistical ; and notwithstanding 
that the word is both so trite and so vague, he feels as 
if he had uttered a good pungent thing. There is satiric 
smartness in the word, though there be none in the 
man. In default of keen faculty in the mind, it is de- 
lightful thus to find something that will do as well, ready 
bottled up in odd terms. It is not less convenient to a 
profligate, or a coxcomb, whose propriety of character 
is to be supported by laughing indiscriminately at reli- 
gion in every form ; the one, to evince that his courage 
is not sapped by conscience, the other, to make the best 
advantage of his instinct of catching at impiety as a sub- 
stitute for sense. The word Methodism so readily sets 
aside all religion as superstitious folly, that they pro- 
nounce it with an air as if no more needed to be said. 
Such terms have a pleasant facility of throwing away 
the matter in question to scorn, without any trouble of 
making a definite, intelligible charge of extravagance 
or delusion, and attempting to prove it. 

In politics, Jacobinism has, of late years, been the 
brand by which all sentiments alluding to the prmciples 
of liberty, in a way that could be taken to censure the 
measures of the ascendant partv in the State, have been 
consigned to execration. What a quantity of noisy 
zeal would have been quashed in dead silence, if it had 
been possible to enforce the substitution of statements 
and definitions for this unmeaning, vulgar, but most ef- 
ficacious term of reproach. What a number of per- 
sons have vented the superabundance of their loyalty, 
or their rancour, by means of this and two or three simi- 
lar words, who, if by some sudden lapse of memory 
they had lost these two or three words, and a few names 
of persons, would have looked round with an idiotic va- 
canc}', totally at a loss what was the subject of their 
anger or their approbation. One may here catch a 
glimpse of the policy of men of a superior class, in em- 
ploying these terms as much as the vulgar, in order to 
keep them in active currency. If a rude populace, 
whose understandings they despise, and do not wish to 
improve, could not be excited and kept up to loyal ani- 
mosity, but by means of a clear comprehension of what 
they were to oppose, and why, a political party would 
have but feeble hold on popular zeal, and might vocife- 
rate, and intrigue, and fret itself to nothing. But if a 
•ingle word can be made the symbol of all that is ab- 
G 



surd and execrable, so that the very sound of it shall 
irritate the passions of this ignorant and scorned multi- 
tude, Es dogs have been taught to bark at the name oi 
a neighbouring tyrant, it is a commodious thing for 
managing these passions to serve the interests of those 
who despise, while they flatter, their duped auxiliaries. 
The popular passions are the imps and demons of the 
political conjurer, and he can raise them, as other con- 
jurers affect to do theirs, by terms of gibberish. 

The epithet romantic has obviously no similarity to 
these words in its coinage, but it is considerably like 
them in the mode and effect of its application. For 
having partly quitted the rank of plain epithets, it has 
become a convenient exploding word, of more special, 
deriding significance than the other words of its order, 
such as wild, extravagant, visionary. It is a standard 
expression of contemptuous despatch, which you have 
often heard pronounced with a very self-complacent aix, 
that said, ' How much wiser I am than some people,' 
by the indolent and animate on what they deemed im- 
practicable, by the apes of prudence on what they ac- 
counted foolishly adventurous, and by the slaves of cus- 
tom on what startled them as singular. The class of 
absurdities which it denominates, is left so undefined, 
that all the views and sentiments which a narrow, cold 
mind co\ild not like or understand in an ample and fer- 
vid one, might be referred hither ; and yet the word 
seems to discriminate their character so conclusively as 
to put thom out of argument. With this cast of sig- 
nificance, and vacancy of sense, it is allowed to depre- 
ciate without being accountable ; it has the license of 
a parrot, to call names without being taxed with inso- 
lence. And when any sentiments are decisively stig- 
matized with this denomination, it would require con- 
siderable courage to rescue aij^d defend thera ; since 
the imputation which the epithet fixes on them will pass 
upon the advocate ; and he may expect to be himself 
enrolled among the heroes of whom Don Quixotte is tho 
time immemorial commander-in-chief. At least he 
may be assigned to that class which occupies a dubious 
frontier space between the rational and the insane. 

If, hovVever, the suggestions and sketches which I 
had endeavoured to exhibit as interesting and practica- 
ble, were attempted to be turned into vanity and ' thin, 
air' by the enunciation of this epithet, I v.-ould say, 
Pray now what do you mean hj romantic ? Have you, 
as you pronounce it, any precise conception in your 
mind, which you can give in some other words, and 
then distinctly fix the charge ] Or is this a word, which, 
because it is often used in some such way as you now 
use it, may be left to tell its own meaning better than 
the speaker knows how to explain it 1 Or perhaps you 
mean, that the ideas which I am expressing associate 
in your mind with the fantastic images of Romance ; 
and that you cannot nelp thinking of enchanted castles, 
encounters with giants, solemn exorcisms, fortunate 
surprises, knights and wizards, dragons and griffins. 
You cannot exactly distinguish what the absurdity in 
my notion is, but you fancy what it is like.. You there- 
fore condemn it, not by giving a definition, but by ap- 
plying an epithet which assigns it to a class of things 
already condemned ; for evidently the epithet should 
signify a resemblance to what we have condemned in 
the works of romance. Well then, take L.dvantage of 
this resemblance, to bring your censure into a dis- 
criminative form. Explain with precision the chief 
points in which the absurdity of the works of romance 
has consisted, and then show how the same distinc- 
tions characterize my notions or schemes. I will then 
renounce at once all my visionary follies, and be hence- 
forward at least a very sober, if I cannot be a very ra- 
tional man. 

The great, general characteristic of those works haa 
been the ascendancy of imagination over judgment. 
And the description is correct as applied to the booka. 
even supposing the makers of them to have been ever 



\ 



34 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



■0 well endowed with intellect. If they choose, for 
their amusement, to lay a sound judgment a while to 
rest, to stimulate their imagination to the wildest ex- 
travagances, and to write them as they went on, the 
book might be nearly the same thing as if produced by 
a mind in which sound judgment had no place ; it would 
display imagination actually ascendant by the writer's 
voluntary indulgence, though, not necessarily so by the 
constitution of his mind. It was a different case, if a 
writer kept his judgment active, amidst these extrava- 
gances, for the very purpose of managing and directing 
them to some particular end, of satire or sober truth. 
But, however, the romances of the ages of chivalry and 
tjie preceding times, were composed under neither of 
these intellectual conditions. They were not the pro- 
ductions either of men who, possessing a^trong judg- 
ment, chose formally to forego its exercise, in order to 
riot a while in scenes of extravagant fancy, only keep- 
ing that judgment so far awake as to retain a continual 
consciousness in what degree they were extravagant ; 
or of men designing to give effect to truth or malice 
under the disguise of a fantastic exhibition. It is evi- 
dent that the authors were under the real and perma- 
nent ascendancy of imagination ; and though they must 
have perceived that the operations of this faculty went 
to an excess in some of its wildest flights, yet it might 
reach a very great degree of extravagance without their 
being conscious of any excess at all. They could drive 
.on their career through monstrous absurdities 6f descrip- 
tion and narration, without being sensible of inconsis- 
tency and improbability, and with an air as if they really 
:reckoned on being believed. And the general state of 
iutellect of the age in which they lived seems to have 
been well fitted to allow them the utmost license. This 
irrationality of the romancers, and the age, provoked 
■ the powerful mind of Cervantes to expose it, by means 
• of a parallel and still more extravagant representation 
of the prevalence of imagmation over reason, drawn in 
a, ludicrous form, by which he rendered the folly palpa- 
ble even to the sense of that age. From that time the 
delirium abated ; the works which inspirited its ravings 
having been blown away almost beyond the reach of 
bibliomaniac curiosity ; and the fabrication of such is 
become a lost branch of manufacture. 

Yet romance was in some form to be retained, as in- 
dispensable to the craving of the human mind for some- 
thing more vivid, more elated, and more wonderful, 
than the plain realities of life ; as a kind of mental bal- 
loon, for mounting into the air from the ground of or- 
dinary experience. To afford this extrarational kind of 
luxury, it was requisite the fictions should still partake, 
in a limited degree, of the quality of the earlier romance. 
The writers were not to be the dupes of wild fancy ; 
they were not to feign marvels in such a manner as if 
they knew no better ; they were not wholly to lose sight 
of the actual system of things, but to keep within some 
measures of relation and proportion to it ; and yet they 
were required to disregard the strict laws of verisimili- 
tude in shaping their inventions, and to extend them 
with an indulgence and daring of fancy very consider- 
ably beyond the bounds of probability. Without this, 
their fictions would have lost what was regarded as the 
essential quality of romance. 

If, therefore, the epithet Romantic, as now employed 
for description and censure of character, sentiments, 
and schemes, is to be understood as expressive of the 
quality which is characteristic of that class of fictions, 
it imputes, in substance, a great, excess of imajination 
in proportion to judgment ; and it imputes, in particu- 
lars, such errors as naturally result from that excess. — 
It may be worth while to look for some of the practical 
exemplificafions of this unfortunate disproportion be- 
tween the two faculties. 

It should first be noted, that a defective judgment is, 
not necessarily accompanied by a romantic disposition, 
since the imagination may be as inert as the judgment is 



weak : and this double and equal deficiency protluces 
mere dulness. But it is obvious that a weak judgment 
may be accompanied with a great force of that faculty 
which can so powerfully assert itself even in childhood, 
in dreams, and in the state of insanity. 

Again, there may be an intellect not positively feeble 
(supposing it estimated separately from the other pi wer) 
yet practically reduced to debility by a disproportionate 
imagination, which continually invades its sphere, and 
takes every thing out of its hands. And then the case 
is made worse by the unfortunate circumstance, that 
the exercise of the faculty which should be repressed, is 
incomparably more easy and delightfift, than of that 
which should be promoted. Indeed the term exercise 
is hardly applicable to the activity of a faculty which can 
be active without effort, which is so far from needing to 
be stimulated to its works of magic, that it often scorns 
the most serious injunctions to forbear. It is not exer- 
cise, but indulgence ; and even minds possessing iriuch 
of the power of understanding, may be disposed to under- 
go but little of the labour of it, when amidst the ease of 
the deepest indolence they can revel in the activify of 
a more animating employment. Imagination may be 
indulged till it usurp an entire ascendency over the 
mind, and then every subject presented to that mind 
will excite imagination, instead of understanding, to 
work ; imagination will throw its colours where the in- 
tellectual faculty ought to draw its lines ; imagination 
will accumulate metaphors where reason ought to de- 
duce arguments ; images will take the place of thouglits 
and scenes of disquisitions. The whole mind may be- 
come at length something like a hemisphere of cloud- 
scenery, filled with an ever-moving train of changing, 
melting forms, of every colour, mingled with rainbows, 
meteors, and an occasional gleam of pure sun-light, al) 
vanishing away, the mental, like this natural imagery, 
when its hour is up, without leaving any thing behind 
but the wish to recover the vision. And yet, the while, 
this series of visions may be mistaken for operations of 
thought, and each cloudy image be admitted in tho 
pl.ice of a proposition or a reason ; or it may even be 
mistaken for something sublimer than thinking. The 
influence of this habit of dwelling on the beautiful, fal- 
lacious forms of imagination, will accompany the mind 
into the most serious speculations, or rather musings, 
on the real world, and what is to be done in it, and e.x- 
pected ; as the image, which the eye acquires from 
looking at any dazzling object, still appears before it 
wherever it turns. The vulgar materials that consti- 
tute the actual economy of the world, will rise up to 
its sight in fictitious forms, which it cannot disenchant 
into plain reality, nor will even suspect to be deceptive. It 
cannot go about with sober, rational inspection, and 
ascertain the nature and value of all things around it. 
Indeed such a mind is not disposed to examine, with 
any careful minuteness, the real condition of things. It is 
content with ignorance, because environed with some- 
thing more delicious than such knovvledgc, in the Pa 
radise which imagination creates. In that Paradise ii 
walks delighted, till some imperious ' circumstance of 
real life call it thence, and gladly escapes thither again 
when the avocation is past. There, every thing is 
beautiful and noble as could be desired to form the re- 
sidence of an angel. If a tenth part of the felicities 
that have been enjoyed, the great actions that havo 
been performed, the beneficent institutions that have 
been established, and the beautiful objects that have 
been seen in that happy region, could have been im- 
ported into this terrestrial place — what a delightful 
thing, my dear friend, it would have been to awake each 
morning to see such a world once more. 

It is not strange that a faculty, of which the exer- 
cise is so easy and bewitching, and the scope infinite, 
should obtain a predominance over judgment, espe- 
cially in young persons, and in those who have been 
brought up, like Rasselas and his companions, in a. state 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



35 



of seclusion from the sight and experience of the world. 
Indeed a considerable vigour of imagination, though it 
be at the expense of a frequent predominance over juve- 
nile understanding, seems even necessary, in early life, 
to cause a generous expansion of the passions by giving 
Ihe most lively aspect to the objects which must at- 
tract them, in order to draw forth the activity of our 
l>eing. It may also contribute to prepare the mind for 
the exercise of that faith which converses with things 
unseen, but converses with them through the medium 
of those ideal forms in which imagination presents them, 
and in which only a strong imagination can present 
them impressively * And 1 should deem it the indi- 
cation of a character not destined to excel in the libe- 
ral, the energetic, 'or. the devout qualities, if I ob- 
served in the youthful age a close confinement of 
thought to bare truth and minute accuracy, with an en- 
tire aversion to the splendours, amplifications, and ex- 
cursions of fancy. This opinion is warranted by in- 
stances of persons so distinguished in youth, who have 
become subsequently very sensible indeed, but dry, 
cold, precise, devoted to detail, and incapable of being 
carried away one moment by any inspiration of the 
beautiful or the sublime. They seem to have only the 
bare intellectual stamina of the human mind, without 
the addition of what is to give it life and sentiment. 
They give one an impression similar to that made by 
the leafless trees which you remember our observing 
in winter, admirable for the distinct exhibition of their 
branches and minute ramifications so clearly defined on 
the sky. but destitute of all the green, soft luxury, of 
foliage which is requisite to make a perfect tree. And 
even the affections existing in such minds seem to 
have a bleak abode, somewhat like those bare, deserted 
nests which you have often seen in such trees. 

If, indeed, the signs of t^is exclusive understanding 
indicated also such an extraordinary vigour of the fa- 
culty, as to promise a very great mathematician or 
metaphvsician, one would perhaps be content to forego 
some of the properties which form a complete mind, for 
the sake of th^s pre-eminence of one of its endowments ; 
even though the person were to be so defective in sen- 
timent and fancy, that, as the story goes of an eminent 
mathematician, he could read through a most animated 
and splendid epic poem, and on being asked what he 
thought of it, gravely reply, 'What does it prove 1' 
But the want of imagination is never an evidence, and 
perhaps but rarely a concomitant, of superior under- 
standing. 

Imagination may be allowed the ascendency in early 
youth ; the case should be reversed in mature life ; and 
if it is not, a man may consider his mind either as not 
the most happily constructed, or as unwisely disci- 
plined. The latter indeed is probably true in every 
such instance. '• 



LETTER II. 

One of ihe Modes of this ascendancy justly called Romantic 
is, the unfounded Persuasion of something peculiar and 
extraordinary in a Person^s Destiny — This vain Expecta- 
tion may he relative to great Talent and Achievement, or to 
great Felicity — -Things ardently anticipated whirh not only 
cannot he attained but would be unadapted lo the Nature and 
Condition of Man if they could — A Person that hoped to 
out-do rather than imitate Grrezory Lopez, the Hermit — 
Absurd Expectations of Parents — Utopian Anticipations 
of Philosophers — Practical Absurdity of the Age of Chi- 
valry — The extravagant and Exclusive Passion for what 
is Grand. 

The ascendancy of imagination operates in various 
modes ; I will endeavour to distinguish those which 
may justly be called romantic. 

* The Divine Being is the only one of these objects which a 
Christian would wish it possible to contemplate without the aid 



The extravagance of imagination in romance has very 
much consisted in the display of a destiny and course of 
life totally unlike the common condition of mankind. 
And you may have observed in living individuals, that 
one of the effects sometimes produced by the predom- 
inance of this faculty is, a persuasion in a person's own 
mind that he is born to some peculiar and extraordinary 
destiny, while yet there are no extraordinary indications 
in the person or his circumstances. There was some- 
thing rational in the early pre-sentiment which some 
distinguished men have entertained of their future ca- 
reer. When a celebrated general of the present times 
exclaimed, after performing the common military exer- 
cise in a company of juvenile volunteers, ' I shall be a 
commander-in-chief,'* a sagacious obseirver of the signs 
of talents yet but partially developed, might have thought 
it indeed a rather sanguine, but probably not a quite 
absurd, anticipation. An elder and intelligent associate 
of Milton's youth might without much difficulty have 
believed himself listening to an oracle, when so power- 
ful a genius avowed to him, that he regarded himself as 
destined to produce a work which should distinguish the 
nation and the age. The opening of uncommon facul- 
ties may be sometimes attended with these anticipations, 
and may be allowed to express them!, perhaps, even, as 
a stimulus, encouraged to indulge them. But in most 
instances these magnificent presumptions form, in the 
observer's eye, a ludicious contrast with the situation 
and powers of the person that entertains them. And, in 
the event, how few such anticipations have proved them- 
selves to have been the genuine promptings of an extra- 
ordinary mind. 

The visionary presumption of a peculiar destiny is 
entertained in more forms than that which implies a 
confidence of possessing uncommon talent. It is often 
the flattering self-assurance simply of a life of singular 
felicity. The captive of fancy fondly imagines his pros- 
pect of life as a delicious vale, from each side of which 
every stream of pleasure is to flow down to his feet ; and 
while it cannot but be seen that innumerable evils do 
harass other human beings, some mighty spell is to pro- 
tect him against them all. He takes no deliberate account 
of what is inevitable in the lot of hamanity, of the sober 
probabilities of his own situation, or of those principles 
in the constitution of his mind which are perhaps unfa- 
vourable to happiness. 

If this excessive .imagination is composed with ten- 
dencies to affection, it makes a person sentimejitally 
romantic. With a great, and what might, in a better 
endowed mind, be a just contempt of the ordinary rate 
of attachments, both in friendship and love, he indulges 
a most assured confidence that his peculiar lot is to re- 
alize all the wonders of generous, virtuous, noble, una- 
lienable friendship, and of enraptured, uninterrupted, and 
unextinguishable love, that fiction ever talked in her 
dreams ; while perhaps a shrewd, indifferent observer can 
see nothing in the nativity or character of the man, or in 
the qualities of the human creatures that he adores, or in 
the principles on which his devotion is founded, to prom- 
ise an elevation or permanence of felicity beyond the des- 
tiny of common mortals. 

If a passion for variety and novelty accompanies this 
extravagant imagination, it will e.xclude from its bold 
sketches of future life every thing like confined regu- 
larity, and common, plodding occupations. It will sug- 
gest that / was born for an adventurer, whose story 
will one day amaze the world. Perhaps I am to be 
an universal traveller ; and there is not on the globe a 
grand city, or ruin, or volcano, or cataract, but I must 

of ima.gination ; and every reflective man has felt how difficult 
it is to apprehend even this object without the inte'rvention of an 
image. In ttiinlving of the transactions and peisonasres of his- 
tory, the final events of time foretold by prophecy, the state of 
good men in another world, the superior ranlcs of intelligent 
agents, &c, he has often had occasion to wish his imaginatioa 
much more vivid. 

* Relate i of Moreau 



36 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



oee it. Debility of constitution, deficiency of means, 
innumerable perils, unknown languages, ojipressive tolls 
and the shortness of life, are very possibly all left out 
of the account. 
If there is in the disposition a love of what is called glory, 
and an almost religious admiration of those capacious 
and intrepid spirits, one of which has often decided in 
one perilous day the destiny of armies and of empires, a 
predominant imagination may be led to revel amidst the 
splendors of military exploit, and to flatter the man that 
he too is to be a hero, a great general. 

When a mind under this influence recurs to prece- 
dents as a foundation and a warrant of its expectations, 
they are never the usual, but always the extraordinary 
examples, that are contemplated. An observer of the 
ordinary instances of friendship is perhaps heard to 
assert, that the sentiment is sufficiently languid in gene- 
ral to admit of an entire self-mterest, of absence without 
pain, and of final indilference. Well, so let it be ; 
Damon and Pythias were friends of a different sort, and 
our friendship is to be like theirs. Or if the subject of 
musing and hope is the union in which love commonly 
results, it may be true and obvious enough that the 
generality of instances would not seem to tell of more 
than a mediocrity of happiness in this relation ; but a 
visionary person does not live within the same world 
with these examj>les. The few instances vvrhich have 
been recorded of tender and never-dying enthusiasm, 
together with the numerous ones which romance and 
poetry have created, form the class to which he belongs 
and from whose enchanting history, excepting their 
misfortpnes, he reasotis to his own future experience. 
So too the man, whose fancy anticipates polit.cal or mar- 
tial achievement, allows his thoughts, to revert continu- 
ally to those names which a rare conjunction of talents 
and circumstances has elevated into fame ; forgetting 
I that many thousands of men of great ability have died 
I in at least comparative obscurity, for want of situations 
in which to display themselves ; and never suspecting 
that himself perhaps has not abilities competent to any 
thing great, if some extraordinary event were nowjust to 
place him in the most opportune concurrence of circum- 
stances. That there has been one very signal man to a 
million', more avails to the presumption that he shall be- 
a signabman, than there having been a million to one 
signal man, infers a probability of his remaining one of 
the multitude. 

You will generally observe, that persons thus self- 
appointed, ill either sex, to be exceptions to the usual 
lot of humanity, endeavour at a kind of consistency of 
character, by a great aversion to the common modes of, 
action and language, and an habitual affectation of some- 
thing extraordinary. They will perhaps disdain regular 
hours, usual dresses, and common forms of transacting 
business ; this you are to regard as the impulse of a 
spirit whose high vocation requires it to renounce all 
signs of relation to vulgar minds. 

The epithet romantic then may be justly applied to 
those presumptions, (if entertained after the childish or 
very youthful age,) of a peculiarly happy or important 
destiny in life, which are not clearl/ founded on certain 
palpable distinctions of character or situation, or which 
greatly exceed the sober prognostics afforded by thpse 
distinctions. It should be observed here that wishes 
merely do not constitute a character romantic. A per- 
son may sometimes let his mind wander into vain wishes 
for all the fine and strange things on earth, and yet be 
far too sober to expect any of them. In this case how- 
ever he will often check and reproach himself for the 
folly of entertaining the wish. 

The absurdity of such anticipations consists simply 
in the improbability of their being realized, and not in 
their objects being uncongenial with the human mind ; 
but another effect of the predominance of imagination 
may be a disposition to form schemes or indulge expec- 
tations essentially incongruous with the nature of man. 



Perhaps however you will say, What is that nature! 
Is it not a mere passive thing, variable almost to infi- 
nity, according to climaie, to institutious, and to the 
ditierent ages of time I Even taking it in a civilized 
state, what relation is there between such a form of 
human nature as that displayed at Sparta, and, for in- 
stance, the modern society denominated Quakers, or 
the Moravion Fraternity ; And how can we ascertain 
what is congenial with it or not, unless itself were first 
ascertained ! Allow me to say, that I speak of human 
nature in its most general principles, only, as social 
self-interested, inclined to the wrong, slow to improve, 
passing through several states of capacity and fef'lmg in 
the successive periods of life, and the few other such 
permanent distinctions. Any of these distinctions may 
vanish from the sight of a visionary mind, while form- 
ing, for itself or for others, such schemes as could have 
sprung only from an imagination become wayward 
through its excess of power. I remember, for exam- 
ple, a person, very young I confess, who was so en- 
chanted with the stories of Gregory Lopez, and one or 
two more pious hermits, as almost to form the resolu- 
tion to betake himself to some wilderness and live as 
Gregory did. At any time, the very word hermil waa 
enough to transport him, like the witch's broomstick, 
to the solitary hut, which was delightfully surrounded 
by shady, solemn groves, mossy rocks, crystal streams, 
and gardens of radishes. Wh le this fancy lasted, he 
forgot the most obvious of ail facts, that man is not 
made for habitual solitude; nor can endure it without 
misery, except when transformed into a superstitious 
ascetic, nor probably even then.* 

Contrary to human nature, is the proper description 
of those theories of education, and those flatteries of 
parental hope, which presume that young people in ge- 
neral may be matured to eminent wisdom, and adorn- 
ed with the universality of noble attainments, by the 
period at which in fact, the intellectual faculty is but 
beginning to operate with any thing like clearness and 
force. Because some individuals, remarkable excep- 
tions to the natural character of youth, have in their 
very childhood advanced beyond the youthful giddiness, 
and debility of reason, and have displayed, at the age of 
perhaps twenty, a wonderful assemblage of all the 
strong and all the graceful endowments, it therefore 
only needs a proper system of education to make other 
young people (at least those of mi/ family, the parent 
thinks,) be no longer what nature has always made 
youth to be. Let this be adopted, and we shall see 
multitudes at that age possessing the judgment of sages, 
or the diversified acquirements and graces of all-accom- 
plished gentlemen and ladies. And what, pray, are the 
beings which are to become, by the discipline of eight 
or ten years, such finished examples of various excel- 
lence 1 Not, surely, these boys here, that love nothing 
so mucn as tops, marbles, and petty mischief — and 
those girls, that have yet attained but few ideas beyond 
the dressing of dolls 1 Yes, even these I 

The same charge of being unadapted to man, seems 
applicable to the speculations of those philosophers and 
philanthropist?, who have eloquently displayed the hap- 
piness, and asserted the practicability, of an equality 
of property and modes of life throughout society. 
Those who really anticipated or projected the practi- 
cal trial of the system, must have forgotten on what 
planet those apartments were built, or those arbours 
were growing, in whicn they were contemplating such 
visions. For in these visions they beheld the ambition 
of one part of the inhabitants, the craft or audacity of 
another, the avarice of another, the stupidity or indo- 

* Lopez indeed was often visited by pious persons who sought 
his instruclii)ns-, this was a great niodification of the loneliness, 
and ofthe trial involved in enduring it : but tny hermit was fond 
of the idea of an uninhabited island, or of a wilderness so deep 
thai these good people would not have been able to come at him, 
without a more formidable pilgrimage than was ever yet mado 
for the sake of obtaining instruction. 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



37 



lence of another, and the selfishness of almost all, as 
mere adventitious faults, superinduced on the charac- 
ter of the speciefe, and instantly flying off at the ap- 
proach of better institutions, which shall prove, to the 
confusion of all the calumniators of human nature, that 
nothing is so congenial to it as industry, moderation, 
. and disinterestedness. It is at the same time but just 
to acknowledge, that many of them have admitted the 
necessity of such a grand transformation as to make 
man another being previously to the adoption of ihe 
system. This is all very well : when the proper race 
of men shall come from Utopia, the system and polity 
may very properly come along with them ; or these 
sketches of it, prepared for them by us may be careful- 
ly preserved here, in volumes more precious than those 
of the Sibyls, against their arrival Till then, the sober 
observers of the human character will read these beau- 
tiful theories as romances, adapted to excite sarcastic 
ridicule in their splenetic hours, when they are disgust- 
ed with human nature, and to produce deep melancholy 
in their benevolent ones, when they commiserate it. 

It hardly needs to be said, that the character of the 
age of chivalty may be cited as an illustration of the 
same kind. One of its most prominent distinctions 
was, an immense incongruity with the simplest princi- 
ples of human nature. For instance, in the concern of 
love : a generous young man became attached to an 
interesting young woman — interesting as he believed, 
from having once seen her ; for probably he never 
heard her speak. His heart would naturally prompt 
him to seek access to the object whose society, it told 
him, would make him happy ; and if in a great mea- 
sure debarred from that society, he would surrender 
himself to the melting mood of the passion, in the mu- 
sings of pensive retirement. But this was not the way. 
He must abandon ^or successive years her society and 
vicinity, and every soft indulgence of feeling, and rush 
boldly into all sorts of hardships and perils, deeming no 
misfortune so great as not to find constant occasions 
of hazarding his life among the roughest foesj or if he 
could find or fancy them, the strangest monsters ; and 
all this, not as the allievation of despair, but as the 
courtship of hope. And when he was at length betray- 
ed to flatter himself that such a probation, through 
every kind of patience and danger, miglit entitle him 
ir *hrow his trophies and himself at her imperial feet, 
it was very possible she might be affronted that he had 
presumed to be still alive. It is unnecessary to refer 
to the other parts of the institution of chivalry, the 
whole system of which would seem more adapted to 
any race of beings exhibited in the Arabian Nights, or 
to any still wilder creation of fancy, than to a commu- 
nity of creatures appointed to live by cultivating the 
soil, anxious to avoid pain and trouble, seeking the re- 
ciprocation of affection on the easiest terms, and 
nearest to happiness in regular pursuits, and quiet, 
domestic life. 

One cannot help reflecting here, how amazingly ac- 
commodating this human nature has been to all insti- 
tutions but wise and good ones ; insomuch that an or- 
der of life and manners, formed in the wildest devia- 
tion from all plain sense and native instinct, could be 
practictilly adopted, to some extent, by those who had 
rank and courage enough, and adored and envied by 
the rest of mankind. Still, the genuine tendencies of 
nature have survived the strange but transient modifi- 
cations of time, and remain the same after the age of 
chivalry is gone far toward that oblivion, to which you 
will not fail to wish that many other institutions might 
speedily follow it. Forgive the prolixity of these illus- 
trations, intended to show, that schemes and specula- 
tions respecting the interests either of an individual or 
of society, which are inconsistent with the natural con- 
stitution of man, may, except where it should be rea- 
sonable to expect some supernatural invention, be de- 
ttouiuiated romantic. 



The tendency to this species of romance, may be 
caused, or very greatly promoted, by an exclusive 
taste for what is grand, a disease to which some fevr 
minds are subject. They have no pleasure in contem- 
plating the system of things as the Creator has ordered 
it, a combination of great and little, in which ttie areat 
is much more dependent on the little than the littfe on 
the great. They cut out the grand objects, to dispose 
them into a world of their own. All the images in 
their intellectual scene must be colossal and mountain- 
ous. They are constantly seeking what is animated 
into heroics, what is expanded into immensity, what is 
elevated above the stars. But for great empires, great 
battles, great enterprises, great convulsions, great ge- 
niusses, great temples, great rivers, there would be no- 
thing worth naming in this part of the creation.* All 
that belongs to connexion, gradation, harmony, re^ru- 
larity, and utility, is thrown out of sisht behind these 
forms of vastness. The influence of this exclusive 
taste will reach into the system of projects and expecta- 
tions. The marl will v'^ish to summon the world to 
throw aside its tame, accustomed pursuits, and adopt 
at once more magnificent views and objects, and will 
be indignant at mankind that they cannot or will not be 
sublime.' Impatient of little means and slow processes, 
he will wish for violent transitions and entirely new in- 
stitutions. He will perhaps determme to set men the 
example of performing somethino- great, in some ill- 
judged, sanguine project in which he will fail ; and, 
after being ridiculed by society, both for the scheme 
and its catastropihe, may probalily abandon all the acti- 
vities of life, and become a misanthrope the rest of 
his days. 



LETTER III. 

TTie Epithet applicahle to Hopes and Projects mconsistent 
with the known Relations between Ends and Means — Reck- 
oning on happy Casualties — Musing on Instances of good 
Luck — JVovels go more than half the Length of the older 
Romance in promoting: this pernicious Tendency of the 
Mind — Specimen of what they do in thts way — Fancy 
magnifies the smallest Means into an apparent Cojnpe- 
tenceto the greatest Ends— This delusive Calculation apt 
to he admitted in Schemes of Benevolence — Projects for 
civilizing Savage Nations — Extravigant Expectations of 
the Efficacy of direct Instruction, in the Lessons of Edu- 
cation, and in Preaching — Reformers apt to overrate the 
Power of Means — The Fancy ahovt the Omnipotence of 
Truth — fiur Expectations ought to be limited by what we 
actually see and know of human Nature — Estimate of that 
Nature — Prevalence of Passion and Appetite against 
Conviction. 

One of the most obvious distinctions of the works of 
romance is, an utter violation of all the relations be- 
tween ends and means. So.metimes such ends are pro- 
posed as seem quite dissevered from means, inasmuch 
as there are scarcely any supposable means on earth to 
accomplish them : but no matter ; if we cannot ride 
we must swim, if we cannot swim we must fly : the 
object is effected by a mere poetical omnipotence that 
wills it. And very often practicable objects are attain- 
ed by means the most fantastic, improbable, or inade- 
quate ; so that there is scarcely any resemblance be- 
tween the method in which they are accomplished by 
the dexterity of fiction, and that in which the same 
things must be attempted in the actual «cono'ny of the 
world. Now, when you see this absurdity of imagina- 
tion prevailing in the calculations of real life, you may 
justly apply the epithet, romantic. 

Indeed a strong and habitually indulged imagination 
may be so absorbed in the end, if it is not a concern of 

* Just a=!, tn employ a humble compa'-i.son. a votary of fashion, 
after visitins a crowded public place which hapjienei! at that 
time not to be graced by the nresence of many people of conse« 
quence, tells you, with an affected tone, ' There was not a area 
lure there.' 



38 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



absolute, immediate urgency, as for a while quite to 
forget the process of attainment. It has incantations 
to dissolve the rigid laws of time and distance, and 
place a man in something so like the presence of his 
object, that he seems half to possess it ; and it is hard, 
while occupying the verge of Paradise, to be flung far 
back in order to find or make a path to it, with the 
slow and toilsome steps of reality. In the luxury of 
promising himself that what he wishes will by some 
means take place at some time, he forgets that he is 
advancing no nearer to it — except on the wise and pa- 
tient calculation that he must, by the simple movement 
of growing older, be coming somewhat nearer to every 
event that is yet to happen to him. He is like a tra- 
veller, who, amidst his indolent musings in some soft 
bovver, where he has sat down to be shaded a little 
while from the rays of noon, falls asleep, and dreams 
he is in the midst of all the endearments of home, insen- 
sible that there are many hills and dales for him yet to 
traverse. But the traveller Vv-ill awake ; so too will 
the man of fancy, and if he has the smallest capacity of 
just reflection, he will regret to have wasted in reveries 
the time which ought to have been devoted to practical 
exertions. 

But even though reminded of the necessity of inter- 
vening means, the man of imagination will often be 
tempted to violate their relation with ends, by permit- 
ting himself to dwell on those happy casualties, which 
the prolific sorcery of his mind will promptly figure to 
him as the very things, if they would but occur, to ac- 
complish his wishes at one, without the toil of a sober 
process. If they would occur — and things as strange 
might happen : he reads in the newspapers that an es- 
tate of ten thousand per annum was lately adjudged to 
a man who was working on the road. He has even 
heard of people dreaming that in such a place some- 
thing valuable was concealed ; and that, on searching 
or digging that place, they found an old earthen pot, 
full of gold and silver pieces of the times of good 
King Charles the Martvr. Mr. B. was travelling by 
the mail-coach, in which he met with a most interesting 
young lady, whom he had never seen before ; they were 
mutually delighted, and were married in a few weeks. 
Mr C, a man of great merit in obscurity, was walking 
across a field when Lord D., in chase of a fox, leaped 
over the hedge, and fell off his horse into a ditch. Mr 
C, with the utmost alacrity and kind solicitude, helped 
his lordship out of the ditch, and recovered for him his 
escaped horse. The consequence was inevitable ; his 
lordship, superior to the pride of being mortified to have 
been seen in a condition so unlucky for giving the im- 
pression of nobility, commenced a friendship with Mr 
C. and in.roduced him into honourable society and the 
road to fortune. A very ancient maiden lady of a large 
fortune happening to be embarrassed in a crowd, a young 
clergyman offered her his arm, and politely attended 
her home ; his attention so captivated her, that she be- 
queathed to him, soon after, her whole estate, though 
she had many poor relations. 

^hat class of fictitious works called novels, though 
much more like real life than the romances which pre- 
ceded them, (and which are recently, with some altera- 
tions, partly come into vogue again,) is yet full of these 
lucky incidents and adventures, which are introduced 
as the chief means toward the ultimate success. A 
young man without fortune, for instance, is precluded 
from making his addresses to a young female in a su- 
perior situation, whom he believes not indifferent to' 
him, until he can approach her with such worldly ad- 
vantages as it might not be imprudent or degrading for 
her to accept. Now how is this to be accomplished ] 
• — Why, I suppose, by the exertion of his talents in 
some fair and practicable department ; and perhaps the 
lady, besides, will generously abdicate for his sake some 
of the trappings and luxuries of rank. You real4y sup- 
pose this is the plan \ I am sorry you have so much 



less genius than a novel-writer. This young man ha« 
an uncle, who has been absent a long time, nobody 
knew where, except the young man's lucky stars. 
During his absence, the old uncle has gained a large 
fortune, with which he returns to his native land, at a 
time most opportune for every one, but a highwayman, 
who, attacking him in a road through a wood, is fright- 
ened away by the young hero, who happens to come 
there at the instant, to rescue and recognize his uncle, 
and to be in return recognized and made the heir to 
as many thousands as the lady or her family could 
wish. — Nqw what is the intended impression of all this 
on the reader's mind '' Is he to think it very likely that 
he too has some old uncle, or acquaintance at least, re- 
turning with a shipload of wealth from the East Indies ; 
and very desirable that the highwayman should make 
one such attempt more ; and very certain that in that 
case he shall be there in the nick of time to catch all 
that fortune sends 1 One's indignation is excited at the 
immoral tendency of such lessons to young readers, 
who are thus taught to regard all sober, regular plans 
for compassing an object with disgust or despondency, 
and to muse on improbabilities till they become foolish 
enough to expect them, and to be melancholy wh^n 
they find they may expect them in vain. It is unpar- 
donable that these pretended instructers by example 
should thus explode the calculations and exertions of 
manly resolution, destroy the connexion between ends 
and means, and make the rewards of virtue so depend 
on chance, that if the reader does not either regard the 
whole fable with contempt, or promise himself he shall 
receive the favours of fortune in some similar way, he 
must close the book with the conviction that he may 
hang or drown himself as soon as he pleases ; that is 
to say, unless he has learnt from some other source a 
better morality and religion than these books will ever 
teach him. 

Another deception in respect to means, is the facility 
with which fancy passes along the train of them, and 
reckons to their ultimate effect at a glance, without 
resting at the successive stages, and considering the 
labours and hazards of the protracted process from each 
point to the next. If a given number of years are al- 
lowed requisite for the accomplishment of an object, 
the romantic mind vaults from one last day of Decem- 
ber to another, and seizes at once the whole product 
of all the intermediate days, without condescending to 
recollect that the sun never shone yet on three hundred 
and sixty-five days at once, and that they must be slowly 
told and laboured one by one. If a favourite plan is to 
be accomplished by means of a certain large amount of 
property, which is to be produced from what is at pre- 
sent a very small one, the calculations of a sanguine 
mind can change shillings into guineas, and guineas into 
hundreds of pounds, incomparably faster than, in the 
actual experiment, these lazy shillings can be com- 
pelled to improve themselves into guineas, and the 
guineas into hundreds of pounds, "^ou remember the 
noble calculation of Alnaschar on his basket of earthen 
ware, which was so soon to obtain him the Sultan's 
daughter. 

Where imagination is not delusive enough to em- 
body future casualties as effective means, it may yet 
represent very inadequate ones as competent. In a 
well-balanced mind, no conception will grow into a 
favourite pui^pose, unaccompanied by a process of ihe 
understanding, deciding its practicability by an estimate 
of "the means ; in a mind under the influence of fancy, 
this is a subordinate after-task. By the time that this 
comes to be considered, the projector is too much en 
amoured of an end that is deemed to be great, to aban- 
don it because the means are suspected to be little. 
But then they must cease to appear little ; for there 
must be an apparent proportion between the means and 
the end. Well, trust the whole concern to tliis plas- 
tic faculty, and presently every insignificant particle ct 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



39 



means, and every petty contrivance for their manage- 
ment, will swell into magnitude ; pigmies and Lillipu- 
tians with their tiny arrows will soon grow up into 
giants wielding spears ; and the diffident consciousness 
which was at first somewhat afraid to measure the plan 
against the object, will give place to a generous scorn 
of the timidity of doubting. The mind will most inge- 
niously place the apparatus between its eye and the ob- 
ject at a distance, and be delighted to find that the one 
looks as large as the other. 

The consideration of the deluded calculations on the 
cfTect of insufficient means, would lead to a wide va- 
riety of particulars ; I will only touch slightly on a few. 
Various projects of a benevolent order would come un- 
der this charge. Did you ever listen to the discussion 
of plans for the civilization of barbarous nations with- 
out the intervention of conquest 1 I have, with interest 
and with despair.* That very many miUions of the 
species should form only a brutal adjunct to civilized 
and enlightened man, is a melancholy thing, notwith- 
standing the v/himsical attempts of some ingenious men 
to represent the state of wandering savages as prefer- 
able to every other condition of life ; a state for which, 
no doubt, they would have been sincerely glad to aban- 
don their fame and proud refinements. But where are 
the means to reclaim these wretched beings into the 
civilized family of man 1 A few examples indeed are 
found in history, of barbarous tribes being formed into 
well-ordered and considerably enlightened states by one 
man, who began the attempt without any power but 
that of persuasion, and perhaps delusion. There are 
perhaps other ins'^ances, of the success obtained by a 
small combination of men eniploying the same means ; 
as in the great undertaking of the Jesuits in South 
America. But have not these wonderful facts been far 
too few to be made a standard for the speculations of 
sober men 1 And have they not also come to us with 
too little explanation to illustrate any general princi- 
ples 1 To me it appears extremely difficult to compre- 
hend how the means recorded by historians to have 
been employed by some of the unarmed civilizers, could 
have produced so great an effect. In observing the 
half-civilized condition of a large part of the population 
of these more improved countries, and in reading what 
travellers describe of the state and dispositions of the 
various orders of savages, it would seem a presumption 
unwarranted by any thing we ever saw of the powers of 
the human mind to suppose that any man, or any ten 
men now on earth, if landed and left on a savage coast, 
would be able to transform a multitude of stupid or fe- 
rocious tribes into a community of mild intelligence and 
regular industry. We are therefore led to believe that 
the few unaccountable instances conspicuous in the his- 
tory of the world, of the success of one or a few men in 
this work, inust have been the result of such a combina- 
tion of favourable circumstances, co-operating with their 
genius and perseverance, as no other man can hope to 
experience. Such events seem like Joshua's arresting 
the sun and moon, things that have been done, but can 
be dope no more. Pray, vvhich of you, I should say, 
could expect to imitate with success, or indeed would 
think it right if he could, the deception of Manco Ca- 
pac, and awe a wild multitude into order by a commis- 
sion from the sunl What would be your first expedi- 
ent in the attempt to substitute that regularity and con- 
straint which they hate, for that lawless liberty which 
thev love 1 How could you reduce them to be con- 
scious, or incite them t6 be proud, of those wants, for 
being subject to which they would regard you as their 
inferiors ; wants of which, unless they could compre- 
hend the refinement, they must necessarily despise the 
debility ■! By what magic are you to render visible and 
palpable any part of the world of science or of abstrac- 
tion, to beings who have hardly words to denominate 

* I here place out of view that religion by which Omnipotence 
viU at length traasfoim the world. 



even their sensations 1 And by what concentrated 
force of all kinds of magic together, that Egypt or 
Chaldea ever pretended, are you to introduce humanity 
and refinement among such creatures as the Northern 
Indians, described by Mr. Hearne 1 If an animated 
young philanthropist still zealously maintained that it 
might be done, I should be amused to think how that 
warm imagination would be quelled, if he were obliged 
to make the practical trial. It is easy for him to be ro- 
mantic while enlivened by the intercourse of cultivated 
society, while reading of the contrivances and the pa- 
tience of ancient legislators, or while infected with the 
enthusiasm of poetry. He feels as if he could be the 
moral conqueror of a continent. He becomes a Her- 
cules amidst imaginary labours ; he traverses untired, 
while in his room, wide tracts of the wilderness ; 
he surrounds himself with savage men, without either 
trembling or revolting at their aspects or fierce excla- 
mations ; he makes eloquent speeches to them, thoucrh 
he knows not a word of their lamguage, which language 
indeed, if he did know it, would perhaps be found totally 
incapable of eloquence ; they listen with the deepest at- 
tention, are convinced of the necessity of adopting new 
habits of life, and speedily soften into humanity, and 
brighten into wisdom. But he would become sober 
enough, if compelled to travel a thousand miles through 
the desert, or over the snow, with some of these sub- 
jects of his lectures and legislation ; to accompany 
them in a hunting excursion ; to choose in a stormy 
night between exposure in the open air and the smoke 
and grossness of their cabins ; to observe the intellec- * 
tual faculties narrowed almost to a point, limited to a 
scanty number of the meanest class of ideas ; to find by 
repeated experiments tliat his kind of ideas could neither 
reach their understanding nor excite their curiosity ; to 
see the ravenous appetite of wolves succeeded for a 
season by a stupidity insensible even to the few interests 
which kindle the utmost ardour of a savage ; to witness 
loathsome habits occasionally diversified by abominable 
ceremonies ; or to be for once the spectator of some 
of the circumstances which accompany the wars of 
savages. 

But there are many more familiar illustrations of the > 
extravagant estimate of means. One is, the expecta- 
tion of far too much from mere direct instruction. This 
is indeed so general, that it will hardly be termed ro- 
mantic, except in the most excessive instances. Ob- 
serve it, however, a moment in the concern of education. 
Nothing seems more evident than the influence of exter- 
nal circumstances, distinct from the regular disciphne 
of the parent or tutor, in forming the character of youth. 
And nothing seems more evident than that direct in- 
struction, though an useful ally to the influence of these 
circumstances when they are auspicious, is a feeble 
counteractor if they are mahgnant. And yet this mere 
instruction is enough in the account of thousands of pa- 
rents, to lead the youth to wisdom and happiness ; even 
that very youth whom the united influence of almost all 
things else which he is exposed to see, and hear, and 
participate, is drawing with the unrelaxing grasp of a 
fiend to destruction. 

A too sanguine opinion of the efficacy of instruction, 
has sometimes been entertained by those who teach from 
the pulpit. Till the dispensations of a better age shall 
be opened on the world, the measure of effect which 
may reasonably be expected from preaching, is- to be 
determined by a view of the visible effects which are 
actually produced on congregations from week to week ; 
and this view is far from flattering. One might appeal 
to preachers in general — What striking improvements 
are apparent in your societies 1 When you inculcate 
charity on the Sunday do the misers in your congreo-a- 
tions liberally open their chests and purses to the dis- 
tressed on Monday 1 Might I not ask as well, whether 
the rock and trees really did move at the voice of Or- 
phffus? After you have unveiled even the scenes of 



40 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



eternity to the gay and frivolous, do you find in more 
than some rare instances a dignilied seriousness take 
place of their follies 1 What is the effect, on the ele- 
gant, splendid professors of Christianity, of your incul- 
cation of that solemn interdiction of their habits, ' Be 
not conformed to this world !' Yet, notwithstanding 
this melancholy state of facts, some preachers, from 
the persuasion of a mysterious apostolic sacredness in 
the office, or from a vain estimate of their personal ta- 
lents, or from mistaking the applause with which the 
preacher has been flattered, for the proof of a salutary 
effect on tlie minds of the hearers, and some from a 
much worthier cause, the affecting influence of sacred 
truth on their own minds, have been inclined to antici- 
pate immense effects from their public ministrations. 
Melancthon was a romantic youth when he began to 
preach. He expected that all must be inevitably and 
immediately persuaded, when they should hear what he 
had to tell them. But he soon discovered as he said, 
that old Adam was too hard for young Melancthon. In 
addition to the grand fact of the depravity of the human 
heart, there are so many causes operating injuriously 
through th'e week on the characters of those who form a 
/ congregation, that a thoughtful man often feels a melan- 
choly emotion amidst his religious addresses, from the 
reflection that he is making a feeble effort against a 
powerful evil, a single effort against a combination of 
evils, a temporary and transient effort against evils of 
continual operation, and a purely intellectual effort 

,^ against evils, many of which act on the senses. When 
the preacher considers the effect naturally resulting from 

\ the sight of so many bad examples, the communications 
of so many injurious acquaintances, and hearing and 
talking of what would be, if written, so many volumes 
of vanity and nonsense, the predominance of fashionable 
dissipation in one class, and of vulgarity in another ; he 
must indeed imagine himself endowed with the power 
a super-human eloquence, if the instructions, expressed 
in an hour or two on the Sabbath, and soon forgotten, 
as he might know, by most of his hearers, are to leave 
something in the mind, which shall be through the week 
the efficacious repellant to the contact and contamina- 
'^ tion of all these forces of mischief But how soon he 
would cease to imagine such a power in his exhorta- 
tions, if the greater number of his hearers' could sin- 
cerely and accurately tell him, toward the end of the 
week, in what degree these admonitions had affected 
and governed them, in opposition to their corrupt ten- 
■■ dencies and their temptations. What would be, in the 
five or six days, the number of the moments and the 
instances in which these instructions would be proved 
to have been effectual, compared with the whole num- 
ber of moments and circumstances to which they were 
justly applicable 1 How often, while hearing such a 
week's detail of the lives of a considerable proportion of 
the congregation, a man would have occasion to say, 
By whose instructions were these persons influenced 
then, in that neglect of devout exercises, that excess of 
levity, that waste of time, that avowed contempt of re- 
lio-ion, that language of profaneness and imprecation, 
those contrivances of selfishness, those paroxysms of 
passion, that study of sensuahty, or that general and 
obdurate depravity 1 

But the preacher whom I deem too sanguine, may 
tell me, that it is not by means of any force which he 
can throw into his religious instructions, that he ex- 
pects them to be efficacious : but that he believes a divine 
energy will accompany what is undoubtedly a messag* 
from heaven. I am pleased with the piety, and the sound 
judgment, (as I esteem it,) with which he expects the 
conversion of careless or hardened men from nothing 
less than the operation of a power strictly divine. But 
I would remind him, that the probability, at any given 
season, that such a power will intervene, must be in pro- 
portion to the frequency or infrequency with which its 
intervention is actually manifested hi the general course 



of experience. In other words, it is in proportion 
to the number of happy transformations of character 
which we see taking place under the efficacy of reli- 
gious truth. 

Reformers in general are verv apt to overrate the 
power of the means by which their theories are to.be re 
alized. They are forever introducing the story of Archi- 
medes, who was to have moved the world if he could 
have found any second place on which to plant his en- 
gines ; and imagination discloses to moral and political 
projectors a cloud-built and truly extramundane position 
which they deem to be exactly such a convenience in 
their department as the mathematician, whose converse 
with demonstrations had saved part of his reason from 
being ran away with by his fancy, confessed to be a de- 
sideratum in his. This terra firma is called the Omni- 
potence of Truth. 

It is presumed, that truth must at length, by the force 
of indefatigable inquiry, become generally victorious, 
and that all vice, being the result of a mistaken judg- 
ment of the nature or the means of happiness, must 
therefore accompany the exit of error. Of course, it is 
presumed of the present times also, or of those innne- 
diately approaching, that in every society and every 
mind where truth is clearly admitted, the refonns which 
it dictates must substantially follow. I have the most 
confident faith that the empire of truth, advancing 
under a far mightier agency than a mere philosophic 
inquiry, is appointed to irradiate the latter ages of a dark 
and troubled world ; and, on the strength of prophetic 
intimations, I anticipate its coming sooner, by at least 
a thousand centuries, than a disciple of that philosophy 
which rejects revelation, as the first proud step towards 
the improvment of the world, is warranted, by a view 
of the past and present state of mankind, to predict. 
The assurance from the same authority is the foundation 
for believing, that when that sacred empire shall over- 
spread the world, the virtue of character will correspond 
to the illuminations of understanding. But in the pre- 
sent state of the moral system, our expectations of the 
effect of truth on the far greater number of the persons 
who shall admit its convictions, have no right to exceed 
the rules of probability which are taught by facts. It 
would be gratifying no doubt to believe, that the several 
powers in the human constitution are so combined, that 
to gain the judgment would be to secure tfie whole man. 
And if all history, and all memory of our observation 
and experience, could be merged in Lethe, it might be 
believed, perhaps a few hours. How could an attentive 
observer believe it longer 1 Is it not obvious that very 
many persons, with a most absolute conviction, by their 
own ingenuous avowal, that one certain course of action 
is virtue and happiness, and another, vice and misery, 
do yet habitually choose the latter ! It is not improba- 
ble that several millions of human beings are at this 
very hour thus acting in violation of the laws of good- 
ness, while those laws are clearly admitted, not only as 
impositions of moral authority, but as the vital principles 
of their own true self-interest.* And did not even the 
best men confess a fierce discord between the tendencies 
of their nature, and the dictates of that truth which 

* Tlie criminal himself has the clearest consciousness [hat he 
violates the dictates of his jmlgment. How trifling is the sub- 
tilty which affects to show that he does not violate ther/i, by al- 
leging, that every act of choice must be preceded by a determi- 
nation of the judgment, and that therefore in choosing an evil, 
a man does at the time judge it to be on some account preferable, 
though he may know it to be wrong. It is not to be denied ih.it the 
choice does imply such a conclusion of the judgment. But this 
conclusion is made according to a narrow and subordinate scale 
of estimating sood and evil, while the mind is conscious that, 
judging according to a larger scale, the opposite conclusion is 
true. It judges a thing better for immediate pleasure, which it 
knows to be worse for idtimaie advantage. The criminal, 
therefore, may be correctly said to act according to his judg- 
ment, in choosing it for present pleasure. But since it is the great 
office of the judgment to decide what is wisest and best on the 
whole, the nianniay truly be said to act against his judgment, 
who acts in opposition to the conclusion which it forms on this 
greater scale. 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



41 



they revere 1 They say with St Paul, ' That which I 
do, f allow not ; for what I would, that I do not ; but 
what I hate, that I do ; to will is present with me, but 
how to perform that which is good, I find not ; the 
good thai. 1 would, that I do not, and the evil which I 
would not, that I do.' Every serious self-observer re- 
collects instances,in which a temptation, exactly address- 
ed to his passions or his habits, has prevailed in spite of 
the steraest interdict of his judgment, pronounced at 
the very crisis. Perhaps the most lawful sanctions by 
which the judgment can ever enforce its authority, 
were distinctly brought to his view at the same moment 
with its convictions. In the subsequent hour he had to 
.reflect, that the ideas of God, of a future account, of a 
world of retribution, could not prevent him from viola- 
ting his conscience. That he did not dwell deliberately 
on these ideas, is nothing against my arg;ument. It is 
in the nature of the passions not to permit the mind to 
fix strongly and durably on those considerations which 
oppose and condemn them. But what greater power 
than this, is requisite for their fatal triumph 1 If the 
passions can thus prevent the mind from strongly fixihg 
on the most awful considerations when distinctly pre- 
■ sented, they can destroy the efficacy of that truth which 
presents them. Truth can do no more than discrimi- 
nate the good from the evil before us, and declare the 
consequences of our choice. When this is inefficacious, 
its power has failed. And no fact can be more evident 
than that its power often thus fails. I should compas- 
sionate the self-complacency of the man who was not 
conscious he had to deplore many violations of his own 
clearest convictions. And in trying the efficacy of truth 
on others, it would be found, in numberless instances, 
that to have informed and convinced a man, may be but 
little toward emancipating him from the habits which he 
sincerely acknowledges to be wrong. There is then 
no such inviolable connexion as some men have sup- 
posed between the admission of truth, and consequent 
action. And therefore, however great is the value 
of truth, the expectations that presume its omnipo- 
tence, without extraordinary intervention are, romantic 
delusion. 

You will observe that in this case of trying the effi- 
cacy of the truth on others, I have supposed the great 
previous difficulty of presenting it to the understand- 
ing so luminously as to impress irresistible conviction, 
to be already overcome ; though the experimental re- 
former will find this introductory work such an arduous 
undertaking, that he will be often tempted to abandon 
it as a hopeless one. 



LETTER IV. 

Christianity the grand appointed Means of reforming the 
World — Bui though the Religion itself be a Communica- 
tion from Heaven, the Administration of it by human 
Agents is to be considered as a merely human Means, ex- 
cepting so far as a special Divine Energy is made to ac- 
company it — Its comparatively small success proves in what 
an extremely limited measure that Energy accompanies it — 
Impotence of Man to do what it leaves undone — Irrational 
to expect from its progressive Administration a measure 
of success indejinitely surpassing the present Slate of its 
OperaJions, till we see some Sign^ of a great Change in 
the Divine Government of the World — Folly of Projects 
to reform mankind which disclaim religion — Nothing in 
Human Nature to meet and give effect to the Schemes and 
Expedients of the floral Revolutionist — Wretched State 
of that Nature — Sample of the absurd Estimates of its 
condition by the irreligious Members of Society. 

As far as the gloomy estimate of means and of plans 
for the amendment of mankind may appear to involve 
the human administration of the religion of Christ, I am 
anxious not to seem to fail in justice to tMat religion by 
which I entirely believe, and rejoice to believe, that 
every improvement of a subhme oider yet awaiting our 



race must be affected. And I trust I do not fail, since 
I keep m my mind a most clear distinction between 
Christianity itself as a divine thing, and the administra- 
tion of it by a system of merely human powers and 
means. These means are indeed of divine appoint- 
ment, and to a certain extent are accompanied by a 
special divine agency. But how far this agency ac- 
companies them is seen in the measureof their success. 
Where that stands arrested, me fact itself is the jiroof 
that the superior operation does not go farther with 
these means. There it stops, and leaves them to ac- 
comphsh, if they can, what remains. And oh, what 
remains ! If the general transformation of mankind 
into such persons as could be justly deemed true disci- 
ples of Christ, were regarded as the object of his reli- 
gion, how mysteriously small a part of that object has 
this divine agency ever yet been exerted to accom- 
plish ! And then, the awful and immense remainder 
evinces the inexpressible imbecility of the means, when 
left to be applied as a mere human administration. I 
need not illustrate its incompetency by citing the vast 
majority, the numerous millions of Christendom, nor the 
millions of even our own country, on whom this reli- 
gion has no direct influence. I need not observe how 
many of these have heard or read the evangelic decla- 
ration ten thousand times, nor with what perfect insen- 
sibility vast numbers can receive its most luminous 
ideas, and most cogent enforcements, which are but 
hke arrows meeting the shield of Ajax. Probably each 
rehgious teacher can recollect, besides his general ex- 
perience, very particular instances, in which be lias set 
himself to exert the utmost .force of his mind, in rea- ^ 

soning, illustration, and seripus appeal, to impress some 
one important idea, on soriie one class of persons to 
whom it was most specifically applicable ; and has per- 
ceived the plainest indications, both at the instant and 
immediately after, that it was an attempt of the same 
kind as that of demolishing a tov/er by attacking it v^ith 
pebbles. Nor do I need to observe how generallv, if a 
momentary impression is made, it is forgotten the fol- 
lowing hour. 

A man convinced of the truth and supreme excel- 
lence of Chrstianity, yet entertaining a more flattering 
notion of the reason and moral dispositions of man 
than the judgment which that religion passes upon them, 
may be very reluctant to admit that there is siich a fa- 
tal disproportion between the apparatus, if I may call 
it so, of the Christian means as left to be applied by 
mere human energy, and the object which is to be at- 
tempted with them. But how is he to avoid it ? Will ^ 
he, in this one excepted instance, reject the method of 
inference fiom facts'! He cannot look upon the world 
of facts and contradict the representation in the preced- 
ing paragraph, unless his fancy is so illusive as to in- "^ 
terpose a vision, an absolute dream, between his eyes 
and the obvious reality. He cannot affirm that there 
are not an immense number of persons, even educated 
persons, receiving the Christian declarations with indil' 
ference, or rejecting them with contempt mingled with 
their carelessness. The right means are applied, and . 
with all the force that human effort can give them, but 
with a suspension, in these instances, of the divine 
agency, — and this is the effect ! While the fact stands 
out so palpably to view, I am doomed to listen with 
wonder, when some of the professed believers and ad 
vocates of the gospel avowing high anticipations of its 
progressive efficacy, chiefly or solely by means of the 
intrinsic force which it can'ies ^s a rational address to 
rational creatures. I cannot help inquiring what length 
of time is to be allowed for the experiment, which is to 
prove the adequacy of the means independently of an 
extraordinary intervention. Nor can it be impertinent 
to ask what is, thus far, the state of the experiment and 
the success, among those who reject the idea of such 
a divine agency, as a tenet of fanaticism. Might it 
not he prudent, to moderate the expressions of con- 



42 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



tempt for the persuasion which excites an importunity 
for extraordinary influence from the Almighty, till the 
success without it shall be greater'! The utmost arro- 
gance of this contempt will venture no comparison be- 
tween the respective success, in the conversion of vain 
and wicked men, of the Christian means as administer- 
ed by those who implore and rely upon this special 
agency of Heaver, and by those who deny any such 
operation on the mind ; deny it in sense and substance, 
whatever accommodating phrases they may sometimes 
employ. Indeed, has there been any success at all, of 
that high order, to vindicate the calculations of this lat- 
ter class from the imputaton of all that should be meant 
by the word Romantic 1 

But, when I introduced the mention of reformers 
and their projects, I was not intending any reference to 
delusive presumptions of the operations of Christianity, 
but to those speculations and schemes for the amendment 
of mankind which anticipate their effect independently 
of its assistance ; some of them perhaps silently coin- 
ciding with several of its principles, while others ex- 
pressly disclairn them. Unless these schemes bring 
with them, like spirits from Heaven, an intrinsic com- 
petence to the great operation, without being met or 
aided by any considerable degree of favourable disposi- 
tion in the nature of the Subject, it is probable that 
they will disappoint their fond projectors. There is no 
avoiding the ungracious perception, in viewing the ge- 
neral character of the race, that, after some allowance 
for what is called natural affection, and for compassio- 
nate sympathy, (an excellent principle, but extremely 
limited and often capricious in its operation,) the main 
strength of human feeling consists in the love of sen- 
sual gratification, of distinction, of power, and of money. 
And by what suicidal inconsistency are these principles 
to lend their force to accomplish the schemes of pure 
reason and virtue, which, they will not fail to perceive, 
are plotting ag-ainst them 1* And if they have far too 
perfect an instinct to be trepanned into such an employ- 
ment of their force, and yet are the preponderating 
agents in the human heart, what other active principles of 
it can the renovator of human character call to his ef- 
fectual aid, against the evils which are accumulated and 
defended by what is at once the baser and the strong- 
er parti Whatever principles of abetter kind there 
may be in the nature, they can hold but a feeble and 
inert existence under the predominance of the worse, 
and could make but a faint insurrection in favour of the 
invading virtue, the very worst of them may indeed 
seem to become its allies when it happens, as it occa- 
sionally will, that the course of action which reforming 
virtue forces, falls in the same line in which these 
meaner principles can promote their interests. Then, 
and so far, an unsound coincidence may take place, and 
the external effect of those principles may be clad in 
specious appearances of virtue ; but the moment that 
the reforming projector summons their co-operation to 
a service in which they must desert their own object 
and their corrupt character, they will desert him. As 
long as he is condemned to depend, for the efficacy of 
his schemes, on the aid of so much pure propensity as 
he shall find in the corrupted subject, he will be nearly 
in the case of a man attempting to climb a tree by lay- 
ing hold, first on this side, and then on that, of some 
rotten twig, which still breaks off in his hand, and lets 
him fall among the nettles. 

Look again to the state of facts. Collective man 
IS human nature; an(^the conduct of this assemblage, 
under the diversified experiments continually made on 
it, expresses its true character, and indicates what may 
be expected from it. Now then, to what principle in 

^ * I am here reminrlerl of the Spanish story of a village where 
the flevil, havin? maile the people excessively wicked, was 
puiiiKhed I)y being compelled to assume the appearance and 
habit of a friar, and to preach so eloquently, in .spite of his in- 
ternal repugnance and rage, that the inhabitants were complete- 
ly reformed. 



human nature, as thus illustrated by trial, could you 
with confidence appeal in favour of any of the great ob- 
jects which a benevolent man desires to see accom 
plished 1 If there were in it any one grand principle 
of goodness which an earnest call, and a great occa- 
sion, would raise into action, to assert or redeem the 
character of the species, one should think it would be 
what we call, incorrectly enough, Humanity. Con- 
sider then, in this nation for instance, which extols its 
own generous virtues to the sky, what lively and ra- 
tional appeals have been made to the whole com- 
munity, respecting the slave trade,* the condition 
of the poor, and the hateful mass of cruelty in- 
flicted on brute animals, not to glance toward the 
horrid sacrifices in that temple of Moloch named 
honourable war which has been kept open more than 
half the past century ; — appeals substantially in vain : 
And why in vain 1 If humanity were a powerful prin- 
ciple in the nature of the community, they would not, 
in contempt of knowledge, eipostulatiou, and specta- 
cles of misery, persist in the most enormous violations 
of it. Why in vain 1 but plainly because there is not 
enough of the virtue of humanity, not even in what is 
deemed a highly cultivated state of the human nature, 
to answer to the pathetic call. Or if this be not the 
cause, let the idolaters of human divinity call, like the 
worshippers of Baal, in a louder voice. Their success 
will too probably be the same ; they will obtain no ex- 
traordinary exertion of power, though they cry from 
morning till the setting sun. And meanwhile the ob- 
server, who foresees their disappointment, would think 
himself warranted, but for the melancholv feeling that 
the nature in question is his own, to mock their expec- 
tations, — You know that a multitude of exemplifica- 
tions might be added. And the thought of so many 
great and interesting objects, relating to the human 
economy, .as a sober appreciation of means seems to 
place beyond the reach of the moral revolutionist, t will 
often, if he has genuine benevolence, make him sad. 
He will repeat to himself, ' How easy it is to conceive 
these inestimable improvements, and how 2iobly they 
would exalt my species ; but how to work them into 
the actual condition of man ! — Are there somewhere in 
possibility,' he will ask, ' intellectual and moral engines 
mighty enough to perform the great process 1 Where 
in darkness is the sacred- repository in which they lie '^ 
What MarratonJ shall explore the unknown way to it 1 
The man who would not be glad, in exchange for 
the discovery of this treasury of powers, to shut up for 
ever the mines of Potosi, would deserve to be immur- 
ed as the last victim of those deadly caverns.' 

But each speculative visionary thinks the discovery 
is made l and while surveying his own great magazine 
of expedients, consisting of Fortunatus's cap, the phi- 
losopher's stone, Aladdin's lamp, and other equally effi- 
cient articles, he is confident that the work may 
speedily be done. These powerful instruments of me- 
lioration perhaps lose their individual names under the 

=f Happily this topic of accusation is in a measure now set 
aside : but it would have remained as immoveable as the con- 
tinent of Africa, if the Lesislature had not been forced into a 
conviction that, on the whole, the slave trade was not advan- 
taseous In point of pecuniary interest. At least the guilt would 
so have remained upon the nation acting in its capacity of a 
state. — This note is added subsequently to the first eililion. — It 
may be subjoined, in qualification of the reproach relative to th« 
next article, — the condition of the poor — that during a later pe- 
rioil, there has been a great increase of the atteniion and exer- 
tion (firected to that condition ; which has, nevertheless, become 
worse. 

fit is obvious that I am not supposing this moral revolution- 
ist to be armed with any power but that of persuasion. If hs 
were a monarch, and possessed virtue and talents equal to hia 
power, the case would be materially different. Even then, he 
would accomplish but little compared with what he could ima- 
gine, and would desire; yet, to all human appearance, he 
might he the instrument of wonderfully changing the condition 
of society within his empire. If the soul of Alfred could retura 
to the earth ! 

\ Spectator, No 56. 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



43 



general denomination of Philosophy, a term that would 
be venerab-le, if it could be saved from the misfortune 
of being hackneyed into cant, and from the impiety of 
substituting its expedients in the place of divine power. 
But it is of little consequence what denomination the 
projectors assume to themselves or their schemes : it is 
by their fruits that we shall know them. ■ Their work 
is before them ; the scene of moral disorder presents 
to them^the plagues which they are to stop, the moun- 
tain which they are to remove, the torrent which they 
are to divert, the desert which they are to clothe in ver- 
dure and bloom. Let them make their experiment, and 
add each his page to the gloomy records in which expe- 
rience contemns the folly of imagination.* 

All the speculations and schemes of the sanguine 
projectors of all ages, have left the world still a prey to 
infinite legions of vices and miseries, an immortal band, 
which has trampled in scorn on ihe monuments and the 
dust of the self-idolizing men who dreamed, each in his 
day, that they were born to chase these evils out of the 
earth. If these vain demigods of an hour, who trusted 
to change the world, and who perhaps wished to change 
it only to make it a temple to their fame, could be 
awaked from the unmarked graves into which they 
sunk, to look a little while round on the world for some 
traces of the success of their projects, would they not be 
eager to retire again into the chambers of death, to hide 
the shame of their remembered presumption 1 The 
wars and tyranny, the rancour, cruelty, and revenge, 
together with all the other unnumbered vices and 
crimes with which the earth is still infested, are enough, 
if the whole mass could be brought within the bounds 
of any one even the most extensive empire, to consti- 
tute its whole population literally infernals, all but their 
oemg mcarnate, and that indeed they would soon, 
through mutual destruction, cease to be. Hitherto the 
fatal cause of these evils, the corruption of the hu- 
man heart, has sported with the weakness, or seduced 
the strength, of all human contrivances to subdue them. 
Nor do I perceive any signs as yet that we are com- 
mencing a belter era, in which the means that have 
failed before, or the expedients of a new and more 
fortunate invention, shall become irresistible, like the 

* In reading lately some part of a tolerably well-written book 
publi^heil a few years since, I came to the followins pa.=sage, 
which, thoiig'h in connexion indeeil wiili the subject of elertions, 
expresses the author'.s general opinion of the state of society, 
and of the means of exalting it to wisdom and virtue. ' Tlie 
bulk of the community besin to examine, to feel, to understand, 
their rights and duties. They only require the fostering care of 
the Philosopher to ripen them into complete rationality, and fur- 
nish them with the requisites of political and moral action.' 
Here I paused to indulge my wonder. The fostering care of 
ihe Philosopher ! Why then is not the Philosopher about his 
Dusine'ss ? Why does he not go and indoctrinate a company of 
peasants in the intervals of a ploughing or a harvest day, when 
he will find them far more eager for his instructions than for 
drink ? Why does he not introduce himself among a circle of 
fanners, who cannot fail, as he enters, to be very judiciously 
discussing, with the aid of their punch and their pipes, the most 
refined questions respecting their rights and duties, and wanting 
but exactly his aid, instead of more punch and tobacco, to pos- 
sess themselves completely of the requisites of political and 
m(]ral action.? The population of a manufactory, is another 
most promising seminary, where all the moral and intellectual 
endowments are so nearly 'ripe,' that he will seem less to have 
the task of cultivating than the pleasure of reapin?. Even 
among the company in the ale-house, though the Philosopher 
misht at first be sorry, and might wonder, to perceive a slight 
merge of the moral part of the man in the sensitive, and to find 
in so vociferous a mood that inquiring reason which, he had 
supposed, would be waiting for him with the silent, anxious do- 
cility of a pupil of Pythajoras, yet he would find a most pow- 
erful predisposition to truth and virtue, and there would be every 
thing to hope from the acc\iracy of his losiq, the comprehen- 
sivencss of his views, and the beauty of his moral sentiments. 
But perhaps it will be explained, that the Philosopher does not 
mean to visit all these people in person ; but that having first se- 
cured the source of influence, having taken entire possession of 
princes, nobility, gentry, and clergy", which he expects to do in 
a very short time, he will manase them like an electrical ma- 
chine, to operate on the bulk ofthe community. Either way the 
acj||°vement will be erreat and admirable ; the'latter event seems 
ttThave been predicted in that sibylline sentence, ' When the 
■kf falls, we shall catch larks.' 



sword of Michael in our hands. The nature of man 
still ' casts ominous conjecture on the whole success.' 
While that is corrupt, it will pervert even the very 
schemes and operations by which the world should bo 
improved, though their first principles were pure as 
heaven ; and revolutions, great discoveries, augmented 
science, and new forms of polity, will become in effect 
what may be denominated the sublime mechanics of 
depravity. 



LETTER V. 

Melancholy Reflections — No Consolation amidst the mystert' 
ous Economic but in an Assurance that an irifinitely good 
Being presides, and will at length open out a new moral 
World — Yet many moral Projectors are solicitous to keep 
their Schemes for the Amendment ofthe IVorld clear of any 
reference to the Almighty — Even good Men are gwlty of 
placing too much Dependence on subordinate Powers and 
Agents — The Representatinns in this Essay not intended to 
depreciate to notldng the Worth and Use ofthe whole Stock 
of Means, but to reduce them, and the Effects to lie ej>pected 
from them, to a sober Estimate — A humble Thins' to be a 
Man — Inculcation of devout Submission, and Diligence, 
and Prayer — Sublime Quality, and indefinite Efficacy, of 
this last, as a Means — Conclusion ; briefly marking out a 
few general Characters of Sentiment and Action, to which, 
though very uncommon, the Epitliet Romantic is unjustly 



This view of moral and philosopliical projects, added 
to that of the limited exertion of energy which the Al- 
mighty has made to attend, as yet, the dispensation of 
the gospel, and accompanied with the consideration of 
the impotence of human efforts' to make that dispensa- 
tion efficacious where his will does not, forms a melan- 
choly and awful account. In the hours of pensive 
thought, the serious observer, unless he can fully re- 
sign the condition of man to the infinite wisdom and 
goodness of his Creator, will feel an emotion of horror, 
as if standing on the verge of a hideous gulf, into which 
almost all the possibilities, and speculations, and efforts, 
and hopes, relating to the best improvements of man- 
kind, are brought down in a long abortive series by the 
torrent of ages, to be lost in final despair. 

To an atheist of enlarged sensibility, if that were a 
possible character, how gloomy, beyond all power of 
description, must be the long review, and the undefina- 
ble prospect, of this triumph of evil, unaccompanied, as 
it must appear to his thoughts, by any sublime, intelli- 
gent process, converting, in some manner unknown to 
mortals, this evil into good, either during the course, or 
in the result. A devout theist, when he becomes sad 
amidst his contemplations, recovers a solemn and sub- 
missive tranquillity, by reverting to his assurance of 
such a wise and omnipotent conduct. As a believer m 
revelation, he is -consoled by the confidence both that 
this train of evils will be converted into good in the ef- • 
feet, and that the evil itself in this world will at a future 
period almost cease. He is persuaded that the Great 
Spirit, who presides over this mysterious scene, has yet 
an energy of operation in reserve to be unfolded on the 
earth, such as its inhabitants have never, except in a 
few momentary glimpses, beheld, and that when his 
kingdom comes, those powers will be manifested, to 
command the chaos of. turbulent and malignant elements 
into a new moral world. 

And is it not strange, my dear friend, to observe 
how carefully some philosophers, who deplore the con- 
dition of the world, and profess to expect its meliora- 
tion, keep their speculations clear of every idea of Di- t 
vine Interposition 1 No builders of houses or cities 
were ever more attentive to guard against the access of 
inundation or fire. If He should but touch their pros- 
pective theories of improvement, they would renounce 
them, as defiled, and fit only for vulgar fanaticism. 
Their system of providence would be profaned by the 



44 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



intrusion of the Almighty. Man is to effect an apotheo- 
sis for himself, by the hopeful process of exhausting his 
corruptions. And should it take all but an endless 
series of an-es, vices, and woes, to reach this glorious 
attainment, patience may sustain itself the while by the 
thouo-ht that when it is realized, it will be burdened 
with no duty of religious gratitude. No time is too 
long to wait, no cost too deep to incur, for the triumph 
of proving that we have no need of that one attribute of 
a Dlvi.^ity, which creates the grand interest in acknow- 
ledging such a Being, the benevolence that would 
make us happy. But even if this triumph should be 
found unattainable, the independence of spirit which 
has laboured for it, must not at last sink into piety. 
This afflicted world, ' this poor terrestrial citadel of 
man,' is to lock its gates, and keep its miseries, rather 
than admit the degradation of receiving help from God. 
I wish it were not true, that even men who firmly 
believe in the general doctrine of the divine govern- 
ment of the world, are often betrayed into the impiety 
of attaching an excessive importance to human agency 
in its events. How easily a creature of their own spe- 
c'-!s is transformed by a sympathetic pride into a god 
(^.'fore them ! If what they deem the cause of truth 
and justice, advances with a splendid front of distin- 
guished names of legislators, or patriots, or military 
heroes, it must then and must therefore triuniph ; no- 
thinsr can withstand such talents, accompanied by the 
zeal of so many faithful adherents. If these shining 
insects of fame are crushed, or sink into the despicable 
reptiles of corruption, alas, then, for the cause of truth 
and justice ! All this while, there is no solemn refer- 
ence to the ' Blessed and only Potentate.' If, however, 
the foundations of their religious faith have not been 
shaken, and they possess any docility to the' lessons of 
time, they will after a while be taught to withdraw their 
dependence and confidence from all subordinate agents, 
and habitually regard the Supreme Being as the only 
power -in the creation. 
' Perhaps it is not improbable, that the grand moral 
improvements of a future age may be accomplished in 
a manner that shall leave nothing to man but humility 
and grateful adoration. His pride so obstinately as- 
cribes to himself whatever good is effected on the 
globe, that perhaps the Deity will evince his own inter- 
position, by events as evidently independent of human 

' power as the rising of the sun. It may be that some 
of them may take place in a manner but little connected 
even with human operation. Or if the activity of men 
shall be employed as the means of producing all of 
them, there will probably be as palpable a disproportion 
between the instruments and the events, as there was 
between the rod of Moses and the stupendous pheno- 
mena which followed its being stretched forth. No 
Israelite was foolish enough to ascribe to the rod the 

f power that divided the sea ; nor will the witnesses of 
the moral wonders to come attribute them to man. 

I hope these extended observations will not appear 
like an attempt to exhibit the whole stock of means, as 
destitute of all value, and the industrious application 
of them as a labour without reward. It is not to de» 
predate a thing, if, in the attempt to ascertain its real 
magnitude, it is proved to be little. It is no injustice 
to mechanical powers, to sa) that slpnder machines 
will not move rocks and massive timbers; r»or to 
chemical ones, to assert that though an earthquake may 
fling a promontory from its basis, the explosion of an 
ounce of gunpowder will not. ^-Between moral powers 
also, and the objects to which they are applied, there 
are eternal laws of proportion ; and it would seem a 
most obvious principle of good sense, that an estimate 
moderatBly correct of the force of each of our means 
according to these laws, as far as they can be ascer- 
tained, should precede every application of them. Such 
an estimate has no place in a mind under the ascend- 
ency of imagination, which, therefore, by extravagantly 



magnifying its means, inflates its projects with hopes 
which may justly be called Romantic. The best cor- 
rective of such irrational expectation is an appeal to 
experience. There is an immense record of experi- 
ments, which will tell the power of almost all the en- 
gines, as worked by human hands, in the whole moral 
magazine. And if a man expects any one of them to 
produce a greater effect than ever before, it must be 
because the talents of him who repeats the trial, trans- 
cend those of all former experimenters, or else because 
the season is more auspicious. 

The estimate of the power of means, obtained by the 
appeal to experience, is indeed most humiliating : but 
what then 1 It is a humble thing to be a man. The 
feebleness of means is, in fact, the feebleness of him 
that employs them ; for the most inconsiderable means, 
when wielded by celestial powers, can produce the 
most stupendous effects. Till, then, the time shall ar- 
rive for us to assume a nobler rank of existence, we 
must be content to work on the present level of our 
nature, and effect that little which we can effect ; un- 
less it be greater magnanimity and piety to resolve that 
because our powers are limited to do only little things, 
they shall therefore, as if in revenge for such an eco- 
nomy, do nothing. Our means will do something ; 
that something is what they were meant to effect in 
our hands, and not that something else which we all 
wish they would effect, and a visionary man presumes 
they will. 

This disproportion between the powers and means 
which mortals are confined to wield, and the great ob- 
jects which all good men would desire to accomplish, 
is a part of the appointments of Him who determined all 
the relations in the universe ; and He will see to the con- 
sequences. For the present, he seems to say to his ser- 
vants, ' Forbear to inquire why so small a part of those 
objects to which I have summoned your activity, is 
placed within the reach of your powers. Your feeble 
ability for action is not accompanied by such a capacity 
of understanding, as would be requisite to comprehend 
why that ability was made no greater. Even if it had 
been made incomparably greater, would there not still 
have been objects before it too vast for its operation ? 
Must not the highest of created beings still have some- 
thing in view, which they feel they can but partially 
accomplish till their powers are enlarged 1 Must there 
not be an end of improvement in my creation, if the 
powers of my creatures had become perfectly equal to 
the magnitude of their designs 1 How mean must be 
the spirit of that being that would not make an effort 
now, toward the accomplishment of something higher 
than he will be able to accomplish till hereafter. Be- 
cause mightier labourers would have been requisite to 
effect all that you wish, will you therefore murmur that 
I have honoured you, the inferior ones, with the ap^ 
pointment of making a noble exertion 1 If there is but 
little power in your hands, is it not because I retain the 
power in mine ? Are you afraid lest that power should 
fail to do all things right, only because you are so little 
made its instruments ? Be grateful that all the work 
is not to be done without you, and that a God employs 
you in that in which he also is employed. But remem- 
ber, that while the employment is yours, the success is 
altogether his ; and that your diligence therefore, and 
not the effect which it produces, will be the test of yuor 
characters. Good men have been employed in all ages 
under the same econoiriy of inadequate means, and 
what appeared to them inconsiderable success. Go to 
your labours : every sincere effort will infallibly be one 
step more in your own progress to a perfect ?tate ; and 
as to the Cause, when I see it necessary for a God to 
interpose in his own manner, I will come.' 

I should deem a train of observations of the melan- 
choly hue which shades some of the latter pages of mis 
essay, useless, or perhai-^ even noxious,- were I not con- 
vinced that a serious exhibition of the feebleness of hu- 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



45 



man agency in relation to all great objects, might ag- 
gravate the impression, often so faint, of the absolute 
supremacy of God, of the total dependence of all mor- 
tal effort on him, and of the necessity of devoutly re- 
garding his intervention at every moment. It might 
promote that last attainment of a zealously good man, 
the resignation to be as diminutive an agent as God 
pleases, and as unsuccessful a one. I am assurell also 
that, in a pious mind, the humiliating estimate of means 
and human power, and the consequent sinking down of 
all lofty expectations founded on them; will leave one 
single means, and that far the best of all, to be held 
not only of undiminished but of more eminent value 
than ever was ascribed to it before. The noblest of 
all human means must be that which obtains the exer- 
tion of divine power. The means which, introducing 
no foreign agency, are applied directly and immediately 
to their objects, seem to bear such a defined proportion 
to those objects, as to assign and hmit the probable 
effect. This strict proportion exists no longer, and 
therefore the possible eflfects become too great for cal- 
culation, when that expedient is solemnly employed, 
which is appointed las the means of engaging the divme 
energy to act on the object. If the only means by 
which Jehoshaphat sought to overcome his superior 
enemy, had been his troops, horses, and arms, the pro- 
portion between these means and the end would have 
been nearly assignable, and the probable result of the 
conflict a matter of ordinary calculation. But when he 
-said, ' Neither know we what to do, but our eyes are 
up unto thee,' he moved (I speak it reverently) a new 
and infinite force to invade the host of Moab and Am- 
nion : and the consequence displayed, in their camp, 
the difference between an irreligious leader, who could 
fight only with arms and on the level of the plain, and a 
pious one. who could thus assault from Heaven. It 
mav not, I own, be perfectl)' correct, to cite, in illus- 
tration of the efficacy of prayer, the most wonderful 
ancient examples. Nor is it needful, since the expe- 
rience of devout and eminently rational men, in latter 
times, has supplied a great number of striking instances 
of important advantages so connected with prayer, that 
thev deemed them the evident result of it. This ex- 
perience, taken in confirmation of the assurances of the 
Bible, warrants ample expectations of the efficacy of an 
earnest and habitual devotion ;* provided still, as I 
need not remind you, that this means be emploj^ed as 
the grand auxiliary of the other means, and not alone, 
till all the rest are exhausted or impracticable. And I 
am con'\'inced thai every man, who, amidst his serious 
projects, is apprised of his dependence on God, as com- 
pletely as that dependence is a fact, will be impelled to 
pray, and anxious to induce his serious friends to pray, 
almost every hour. He will as little, w'ithout it, pro- 
mise himself any noble success, as a mariner would 
expect to reach a distant coast by having his sails 
spread in a stagnation of the air. — I have intimated my 
fear that it is visionary to expect an unusual success in 
the numan administration of religion, unless there are 
unusual omens ; now a most emphatical spirit of 
prayer would be such an omen ; and the individual who 
should solemnly determine to try its last possible effi- 
cacy, might probably find himself becoming a much 
n",ore prevailing agent in, his little sphere. And if the 
^hole, or the greater number, of the disciples of Chris- 
tianity, were, with an earnest, unalterable resolution of 
<"ach, to combine that heaven should not withhold ono 
ungle influence which the very utmost eflxjrt of con- 
jpii-ing and persevering supplication would obtain, it 
^ ould be the sign that a revolution of the world was at 
h.nd. 

My dear friend, it is quite time to dismiss this whole 
■vbject ; though it will probably appear to you that I 

* Here I shall not be misunderstood to believe the multitude of 
■toTics which have been told by deluded fancy, or detestable im- 
yocwre. 



have not entirely lost and forgotten the very purpose 
for which I took it up, which certainly was to examine 
the correctness of some not unusual applications of the 
epithet Romantic. It seemed necessary first to de- 
scribe the characteristics of that extravagance which 
ought to be given up to the charge with some exempli- 
fications. The attempt to do this, has led me into a 
length of detail far beyond all expectation. The in- 
tention was, next, to display and to vindicate, in an ex- 
tended illustration, several schemes of life, and models 
of character; 'but I wdl not carry the subject any far- 
ther. I shall only just specify, in concluding, two or tiiree 
of those points of character, on which the censure of 
being romantic has improperly fallen. 

One is, a disj)osition to take high examples for imita- 
tion, t have condemned that extravagance, which 
presumes on the same career of action and success that 
has been the destiny of some individuals, so extraordi- 
nary as to be the most conspicuous phenomena of histo- 
ry. But this is a very different thing from the disposi- 
tion to contemplate with emotion the class of men who 
have been illustrious for their excellence and their 
wisdom, to observe with deep attention the principles 
that animated them and the process of their attainments, 
and to keep them in view, as the standard of character. 
A man, may without a presumptions esthnate of his 
talents, or the expectation of passing through any course 
of unexampled events, indulge the ambition to resem- 
ble and follow, in the essential determination of their 
characters, those sublime spirits who are now removed 
to the kingdom where they ' shine as the stars for ever 
and ever.' 

A striking departure from the order of custom m 
that rank to which a man belongs, by devoting the j ri- 
vileges of that rank to a mode of excellence which the 
people who compose it never dreamed to be a duty, will 
by them be denominated Romantic. They will wonder 
why a man that ought to be just like themselves should 
afiect quite a difltrent style of life, should attempt 
unusual plans of doing good, should distaste the 
society of his class, and should put himself under some 
extraordinary discipline of virtue, though every point of 
his system may be the dictate of reason and conscience. 

The irreligious will apply this epithet to the determi- 
nation to make, and the zeal to inculcate, great exer- 
tions and sacrifices for a purely moral ideal reward. 
Some gross and palpable prize is requisite to excite their 
energies ; and therefore self-denial repaid by conscience, 
beneficence, without fame, and the delight of resembling 
the Divinity, appear very visionary felicities. 

The epithet will often be applied to a man who feels 
it an imperious duty, to realize, as far as possible, and 
as soon as possible, every thing which in theory he ap- 
proves and ajjplauds. You will often hear a circle of 
perhaps respectable persons agreeing entirely that this 
one IS an excellent principle of action, and' that other 
an amiable quality, and a third a sublime excellence, 
who would be amazed at your fanaticism if you were to 
adjure them thus : 'My friends, from this moment you 
are bound, from this moment we are all bound, on peril 
of the displeasure of God, to realize in ourselves, to the 
last possible extent, all that we have thus applauded.' 
Through some fatal defect of conscience, there'is a very 
general feeling, regarding the high order of moral and 
religious attainments, that though it is a glorious and 
happy exaltation to possess them, yet it is perfectly safe 
to stop contented where we are. One is confoiinded 
to hear irritable persons applauding a character of self- 
command ; persons who trifle away their days admir- 
mg the instances of a strenuous improvement of time ; 
rich persons praising examples of extraordinar}' bene- 
ficence which they know far surpass themselves, though 
without larger means ; and all expressing their deep 
respect for the men Vtiho have b^en most eminent for 
devotional habits ; — and yet apparently with no con- 
sciousness that they are themselves placed in a solemn 



46 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



election of henceforth striving in earnest to exemphfy 
Ihis very same pitch of character, or of being condemn- 
ed in the day of Judgment. 

Finally, in the application of this epithet, but little 
allowance is generally made for the very great differ- 
ence between a man's entertaining high designs and 
hopes for himself alone, and his entertaining them rela- 
tive to other persons. It may be very romantic for a 
man to promise himself fo effect such designs upon 
others as it may be very reasonable to meditate for him- 
self. If he feels the powerful, habitual impulse of con- 
viction, prompting him to the highest attainments of 
wisdom and excellence, he may perhaps justly hope to 
approach them himself, though it would be most extra- 
vagant to extend the same hope to all the persons to 
■whom he may try to impart the impulse. I specify the 
attainments of ivtsdom and excellence, because, to the 
distinction between the designs and hopes which a man 
might entertain for himself, and those which he might 



have respecthig others, it is necessary to add a farther 
distinction as to the nature of those which he might en- 
tertain only for himself. His extraordinary plans and 
expectations for himself might be of such a nature as to 
depend on other persons for their accomphshment, and 
might therefore be as extravagant as if other persons 
alone had been their object. Or, on the contrary they 
may Tdc of a kind which shall not need the co-op- 
eration of other persons, and may be realized independ- 
ently of their will. The design of acquiring immense 
riches, or becoming the commander of an army, or the 
legislator of a nation, must in its progress be dependent 
on other beings besides the individual, in too many 
thousand points for a considerate man to presume that 
he shall be fortunate in them all. But the schemes of 
eminent personal attainments, not being dependent in 
any of these ways, are romantic only when there is some 
fatal intellectual or moral defect iri the mind itself which 
has adopted them. 



ESSAY IV. 



ON SOME OF THE CAUSES BY WHICH EVANGELICAL RELIGION HAS 
BEEN RENDERED UNACCEPTABLE TO PERSONS OF CULTIVATED TASTE. 



LETTER L 

Nature of the Displacency with which some of the most pe- 
culiar Features of Christianity are regarded by many cul- 
tivated Men ivho do not deny or doubt the Divine Au- 
thority of the Religion — Brief Notice of the Term Evan- 
gelical. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, 

While this life is passing so fast awray, it is striking 
to observe the various forms of character in which men 
choose to spend this introductory season of their being, 
and to enter on its future greater stage. If some one 
of these forms is more eligible than all the rest for en- 
tering on that greater stage, a thoughtful man will 
surely wish for that to be his own ; and to ascertain 
which it is, is the most important of all his inquiries. 
We, my friend, are persuaded that the inquiry, if se- 
rious, will soon terminate, and that the Christian cha- 
racter will be selected as the only one, in which it is 
wise to await the call into eternity. Indeed the assur- 
ance of our external existence itself rests but on 
that authority which dictates also the right introduction 
to It. 

The Christian character is simply a conformity to 
the whole religion of Christ. But this implies a cordial 
admission of that whole religion ; and it meets, on the 
contrary, in many minds not denying it to be a com- 
munication from God, a disposition to shrink from some 
of its peculiar distinctions, or to modify them. I am 
not now to learn that the substantial cause of this is 
that repugnance in hvfman nature to what is purely di- 
vine, which revelation affirms, and all history proves, 
and which perhaps some of the humiliating points of 



the Christian system are more adapted to provoke, than 
any thing else that ever came from Heaven. Nor do 
I need to be told how much this chief cause has aided 
and aggravated the power of those subordinate ones, 
which may have conspired to prevent the success of 
evangelical religion among one class of persons ; I 
mean persons of a refined taste, and whose feelings 
concerning what is great and excellent have been dis- 
ciplined to accord to a literary or a philosophical stand- 
ard. But even had there been less of this natural aver- 
sion in such minds, or had there been none, some of the 
causes which have acted on them, would, neverthe- 
less, have tended, necessarily, as far they had any opera- 
tion at all, to lessen the attraction of pure Christian- 
ity. — I wish to illustrate several of these causes, after 
briefly describing the anti-christian feelings in which I 
have observed their effect. 

It is true that many persons of taste have, without 
any precise disbelief of the Christian truth, so little 
concern about religion in any form, that the unthinking 
dislike which they may occasionally feel to the evangel- 
ical principles hardly deserves to be described. These 
are to be assigned, whatever may be their faculties or 
improvements, to the numerous triflers, on whom we 
can pronounce only the general condemnation of irreli- 
gion, their feelings not being sufficiently marked for a 
more discriminative censure. But the aversion to the 
evangelical system is of a more defined character, as it 
exists in a mind too serious for the follies of the world 
and the neglect of all religion, and in which the very 
aversion becomes, at times, the subject of painful and 
apprehensive reflection, from a consciousness that it is 
an unhappy symptom, if that view of the subjects by 
which it is excited, has really the sanction of divine 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



47 



revelation. If a person of such a mind disclosed him- 
self to you, he would describe how the elevated senti- 
ment, inspired by the contemplation of other sublime 
subjects, is confounded, and sinks mortified into the 
heart, when this new subject is presented to his view. 
It seems to require almost a total change of his mental 
habits to admit this as the most interesting subject of 
all, while yet he dares not reject the authority which 
supports its claims. The dignity of religion, as a ge- , 
neral and refined speculation, he may have long ac- 
knowledged ; but it appears to him as if it lost part of 
that dignity, in takmg the specific form of the evangeli- 
cal system ; just as if an ethereal being were reduced 
to combine his radiance and subtlety with an earthly 
nature. He is aware that religion in the abstract, or, 
in other words, the principles which constitute the obh- 
gatory relation of all intelligent creatures to the Su- 
preme Being, must receive a special modification, by 
means of the addition of some other principles, in or- 
der to become a peculiar religious economy for a 
particular race of those creatures, especially for a little 
and a guilty race. And the Christian revelation assigns 
the principles by which this religion in the abstract, the 
rehgion of the universe, is thus modified into the pecu- 
liar form required for the nature and condition of man. 
But when he contemplates some of these principles, 
which do indeed place our nature and condition in a 
verv humbling point of view, he can with difficulty 
avoid regretting that our relations with the Divinity 
should be fixed according to such an economy. The 
gospel appears to him like the image in Nebuchadnez- 
zar's dream, refulgent indeed with a head of gold ; the 
subliTne truths which are independent of every peculiar 
dispensation are luminously exhibited ; but the doc- 
trines which are added as descriptive of the peculiar 
circumstances of the Christian economy, appear less 
splendid, and as if descending towards the qualities of 
iron and clay. In admitting this portion of the system 
as a part of the truth, his feelings amount to the wish 
that a different theory had been true. It is therefore 
with a degree of shrinking reluctance that he some- 
times adverts to the ideas peculiar to the gospel. He 
would willingly lose this specific scheme of doctrines 
in a more general theory of religion, instead of resign- 
ing every wider speculation for this scheme, in which 
God has comprised, and distinguished by a very pecu- 
liar character, all the religion which he wills to be 
known, or to be useful, to our world. He would gladly 
evade the conviction that the gospel is so far from be- 
ing merely one of the modes, or merely even the best 
of the modes, of religion, that it is, as to us, the com- 
prehensive and exclusive mode ; insomuch that he 
who has not a religion concordant with the New Testa- 
ment, is without a religion. He suflfers himself to pass 
the year in a dissatisfied uncertainty, and a criminal 
neglect of deciding whether his cold reception of the 
specific views of Christianity will render unavailing his 
regard for those more general truths respecting the 
Deity, moral rectitude, and a future state, which are 
necessarily at the basis of the system. He is afraid to 
examine and determine the question, whether it will be 
safe to rest in a scheme composed of the general prin- 
ciples of wisdom and virtue, selected from the Chris- 
tian oracles and the speculations of philosophy, harmo- 
nized by reason, and embellished by taste. If it were 
safe, he would much rather be the dignified professor 
of such a philosophic refinement of Christianity, than 
yield himself to be completely humbled into a submis- 
sive disciple of Jesus^ Christ. This refined system 
would be clear of the unwelcome peculiarities of Chris- 
tia» doctrine, and it would also allow some different 
ideas of the nature of moral excellence. He would not 
be so explicitly condemned for indulging a disposition, 
to admire and imitate some of those models of charac- 
ter, which, however opposite to pure Christian excel- 
lence, the world has always idolized. 



I wish I could display in the most forcible manner, 
the considerations which show how far such a state of 
mind is wrong. But my object is, to remark on a few 
of the causes which may have contributed to it. 

I do not, for a moment, place among these causes 
that continual dishonour which the religion of Christ 
has suffered through the corrupted institutions, and the 
depraved character of individuals or communities of 
what is called the Christian world. Such a man as I 
have supposed, understands what its tendency and dic- 
tates really are, so far at least that, in contemplating 
the bigotry, persecution, hypocrisy, and worldly ambi- 
tion, which have stained, and continue to stain, the 
Christian history, his mind instantly dissevers by a de- 
cisive glance of thought, all these evils, and the pre- 
tended Christians who are accountable for them, from 
the religion which is as distinct from them as the Spirit 
that pervades all things is pure from matter and from 
sin. In his view, these odious things and these wicked 
men that have arrogated and defiled the Christian 
name, sink out of sight through a chasm, like Korah, 
Dathan, and Abiram, and leave the camp and the cause 
holy, though they leave the numbers small. It needs 
so very moderate a share of discernment, in a Protes- 
tant country at least, where a well-known volume exhi- 
bits the rehgion itself, genuine and entire as it came 
from heaven, to perceive the utter disconnexion and 
antipathy between it and all these abominations, that 
to take them as congenial and inseparable, betrays, in 
every instance, a detestable want of principle, or a piti- 
able want of sense. The defect of cordiality toward 
the religion of Christ, in the persons that I am accus- 
ing does not arise from' this debility or this injustice. 
They would not be less equitable to Christianity than 
they would to some estimable man, whom they would not 
esteem the less because villains that haled him, knew, 
however, so well the excellence of his name and cha- 
racter, as gladly to employ them to aid their schemes, 
or to shelter their crimes. — But, indeed, these remarks 
are not strictly to the purpose ; since the prejudice 
which a weak or corrupt mind receives from such a 
view of the Christian history, operates, as we see by 
facts, not discriminatively against particular character- 
istics of Christianity, but against the whole system, 
and leads toward a denial of its divine origin. On the 
contrary, the class of persons now in question fully 
admit its divine authority, but feel a deep dislike to 
some of its most peculiar distinctions. These pecu- 
liarities they may wish, as I have said, to refine away ; 
but in moments of impartial seriousness, are constrain- 
ed to admit the conviction, or something very near the 
conviction, of their being inseparable from the sacred 
economy. This however fails to subdue or conciliate 
the heart ; and the dislike to some of the parts has 
often an influence on the affections in regard to the 
whole. That portion of the system which they think 
they could admire, is admitted with the coldness of a 
mere speculative assent, from the intruding recollection 
of its being combined with something else which they 
cannot admire. Those distinctions from which they 
recoil, are chiefly comprised in that view of Christian- 
ity which, among a large proportion of the professors 
of it, is denominated, in a somewhat specific sense. 
Evangelical ; and therefore I have adopted this deno- 
mination in the title of this letter. Christianity, taken 
in this view, contains — a humiliating estimate of the 
moral condition of man, as a being radically corrupt — . 
the doctrine of redemption from that condition by the 
merit and suflferings of Christ — the doctrine of a di- 
vine influence being necessary to transform the charac- 
ter of the human mind, in order to prepare it for a 
higher station in the universe — and a grand moral pe- 
culiarity by which it insists on humility, penitence, and 
a separation from the spirit and habits of the world. — 
I do not see any necessity for a more formal and am- 
plified description of that mode of understanding 



48 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



Christianity which has assumed the distinctive epithet 
Evangelical ; and which is not, to say the least, more 
discriminatively designated among the scoffing part of 
the wits, critics and theologians of the day, by the terms 
Fanatical, Calvinistical, Methodistical. 

I may here notice that, though the greater share of 
the injurious influences on which I may retnark operates 
more pointedly against the peculiar doctrines of Chris- 
tianity, yet some of them are fatally hostile to that mo- 
Tal spirit which is so essentially inherent that the re- 
ligion must partly retain it, even when reduced as far 
as it can be toward the condition of a mere philosophi- 
cal theory. And I would observe, finally, that though 
I have specified the more refined and intellectual class 
of minds, as indisposed to the religion of Christ by the 
causes to which I refer, and though I keep them chiefly 
in view, yet the influence of some of these causes ex- 
tends to many persons of subordinate mental rank. 



LETTER II. 

One of the Causes of the Displacency is, that Christianity, be- 
ing the Religion of a great Number of Persons of weak 
and uncultivated Minds, presents its Doctrines to the view 
of jMmi of Taste associated with the Characteristics of those 
3firids; and though some Paris of the Religion instantane- 
ously redeem themselves from that Association by their phil- 
osophic Dignity, other Parts may require a considerable 
Effort to detalch them from it — This easily done if the Men 
of taste were powerfully pre-occupied and affected by the Re- 

. ligion — Reflections of one tf them in this Case — Sut the 
Men of Taste now in question are not in this Case — Seve- 
ral Specific Causes of injurious Impression from this Asso- 
ciation of Evangelical Doctrines and Senti?nents with the 
intellectual Littleness of the Persons entertaining them — 
Their Deficiency and Dislike of all strictly intellectual Ex- 
ercise on Religion — Their reducing the whole of Religion to 

' one or two favourite IVotions. and continually dvjelling on 
them — Th£ perfect Indifference of some of them to general 
Knowledge, even when not destitute of Means of acquiring 
it; and the consequent voluntary and contented Poverty of 
the irreligious Ideas and Language — Their Admiration of 
Things in a literary Sense utterly bad — Their '^"■^nlacency 
in their Deficiencies — Their injudicious H'lS ,ls ana cere- 
monies — their unfortunate Metaphors and Similes — Su.g- 
gestion to religious Teachers thai they should not run to its 
last possible Extent the Parallel between the Pleasures of 
Piety and those, of Eating and Drinking — Mischief of such 
Practices — Effect of the ungracious Collision between un- 
cultivated Seniors and a young Person of Literary and 
Philosophic Taste — Expostulation v>ith this intellectual 
young Person, on the Folly and Guilt of suffering his 
JSIind to take the Impression of Evangelical Religion from 
any Thing which he knows to be inferior to that Religion it- 
self, ,xs exhibited by the New Testament, and by the most 
elevated of its Disciples. 

In the view of an intelligent and honest mind the re- 
ligion of Christ stands as clear of all connexion with 
the corruption of men, and churches, and ages, as when 
it was first revealed. It retains its purity like Moses 
in Egypt, or Daniel in Babylon, or the Saviour of the 
world himself, while he mingled with scribes and phar- 
isees, or publicans and sinners. But though it thus 
instantly and totally separates itself from all appear- 
ance of relation to the vices of bad men, a degree of 
effort may be required in order to display it, or to view 
it, m an equally perfect separation from the weakness 
of good ones. It is in reality no more identified with 
the one than v.'ith the other ; its essential sublimity is 
as incapable of being reduced to littleness, as its purity 
is of uniting with vice. But it may have a vital con- 
nexion with a weak mind, while it necessarily disowns 
a wicked one ; and the qualities of that mind with 
which it confessedly unites itself, will much more seem 
to adhere to it, than of that with which all its principles 
plainly in antipathy. It will be more natural to take 
those persons who are acknowledged the real subjects 
of its influence as illustrations as its nature, than those 



on whom it is the heaviest reproach that they pretend 
to be its friends.' The perception of its nature and 
dignity must be very vivid, in the man who can observe 
it in its state of intimate combination with the thoughts, 
affections, and language of its disciples, without losing 
sight for one moment of its essential qualities and lus- 
tre. No possible associations indeed can diminish the 
grandeur of some parts of the Christian system. The 
doctrine of immortality, for instance, cannot be reduced 
to take even a, transient appearance of littleness, by the 
meanest or most uncouth words and images that shall 
ever be employed to represent it. But there are some 
other points of the system which have not the same ob- 
vious philosophic sublimity. And these principles are 
capable of acquiring, from the mental defects of their 
believers, such associations as will give a character 
very different from our common ideas of sublimity to so 
much as they constitute of the evangelical economy. 
One of the causes, therefore, which I meant to notice, 
as having excited in persons of taste a sentiment un- 
favourable to the reception of evangelical religion, is 
that this is the religion of many weak and uncultivated 
minds. 

The schools of philosophy have been composed of 
men of superior faculties and extensive accomplish- 
ments, who could sustain, by eloquence and capacious 
thought, the dignity of the favourite themes ; so that 
the proud distinctions of the disciples and advocates 
appeared as the attributes of the doctrines. The adepts 
could attract refined and aspiring spirits, by pro- 
claiming that the temple of their goddess was not pro- 
faned by being a rendezvous for vulgar men. On the 
contrary, it is the beneficent distinction of the gospel, 
that notwithstanding it is of a magnitude to interest 
and to surpass angehc investigation, (and therefore as- 
suredly to pour contempt on the pride of human intel- 
ligence that rejects it for its meanness,) it is yet most 
expressly sent to the class which philosophers have al- 
ways despised. And a good man feels it a cause of 
grateful joy, that a communication has come from hea- 
ven, adapted to effect the happiness of multitudes, ia 
spite of natural debility or neglected education. He is 
grateful to him who has ' hidden these things from the 
wise and prudent, and revealed them to babes,' while 
he observes that confined capacities do not preclude the 
entrance, and the permanent residence, of that sacred 
combination of truth and power, which finds no place 
in the minds of many philosophers, and wits, and states- 
men. But it is not to be denied that the natural con 
sequence follows. Contracted and obscure in its abode, 
the inhabitant will appear, as the sun through a misty 
sky, with but little of its magnificence, to a man who 
can be content to receive his impression of the intellec- 
tual character of the religion from the mode of its mani- 
festation from the minds of its disciples ; and in doing 
so, can indolently and perversely allow himself to re- 
gard the weakest mode of its displaying itself, as its 
truest image. In taking such a dwelling, the religion 
seems to imitate what vv'as prophesied of its author, 
that, when he should be seen, there would be no beauty 
that he should be desired. This humiliation is inevita- 
ble ; for unless miracles are wrought, to impart to the 
less intellectual disciples an enlarged power of thinking, 
the evangelic truth must accommodate itself to the di- 
mensions and unrefined habitudes of their minds. And 
perhaps the exhibitions of it will come forth with mora 
of the character of those minds, than of its own celestial ■ 
distinctions : insomuch that if there were no declara-- 
tion of the sacred system, but in the forms of concep- 
tion and language in which they declare it, even a can- 
did man might hesitate to admit it as the most gloric^is 
gift of Heaven. Happily, he finds its quality declared 
by other oracles ; but while from them he receives it in 
his own character, he is tempted to wish he could de- 
tach it from all the associations which he feels it has 
acquired from the humbler exhibition. And ho does not 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



49 



greatly wonder that other men of the same intellectual 
habits, and with a less candid and profound solicitude 
to receive with simplicity every thing that really comes 
from God, should have ar'mitted an injurious impres- 
sion from these associations. 

They would not make this impression on a man al- 
teady devoted to the reign of Jesus Christ. No passion 
that has become predominant is ever cooled by any 
thing- which can be associated with its object, while 
that object itself continues unaltered. The passion is 
even willing to verify its power, and the merit of that 
vi^hich interests it, by sometimes letting the unpleas- 
ing associations surround and touch the object for an 
instant, aud then chasing them away ; and it welcomes 
with augmented attachment that object coming forth 
from them unstained ; as happy spirits at the last day 
■will receive with joy their bodies recovered from the 
dust in a state of purity that will leave every thing be- 
longing to the dust behind. A zealous Christian ex- 
ults to feel in contempt of how many counteracting 
circumstances he can still love his religion ; and that 
this counteraction, by exciting his understanding to 
make a more defined estimate of its excellence, has but 
made him love it the more. It has now pre-occupied 
even those avenues of taste and imagination, by which 
alone the ungracious effect of associations could have 
been admitted. The thing itself is close to his mind, 
and therefore the causes which would have misrepre- 
sented it, by coming between, have lost their power. 
As he hears the sentiments of sincere Christianity 
from the weak and illiterate, he says to himself — All 
this is indeed little, but I am happy to feel that the sub- 
ject itself is great, and that this humble display of it can- 
not make it appear to me, different from what I abso- 
lutely know it to be ; any more than a clouded atmos- 
phere can diminish my impression of the grandeur of 
the heavens, after I have so often beheld the pure azure, 
and the host of stars. I am glad that it has in this man 
all the consolatory and all the purifying efficacy, 
which I wish that my more elevated views of it may 
not fail to have in me. This is the chief end for which 
a divine communication can have been granted to the 
world. If this -religion, instead of being designed to 
make its disciples pure and happy am.idst their little- 
ness, had required to receive lustre from their mental 
dignity, it would have been sent to none of us. At 
least, not to me ; for though I would be grateful for an 
order of ideas somewhat superior to those of my uncul- 
tivated fellow Christian, I am conscious that the no- 
blest forms of thought in vi/hich I apprehend, or could 
represent, the subject, do but contract its amplitude, do 
but deorcss its sublimitv. Those superior spirits who 
are said to rejoice over the first proof of the efficacy of 
divine truth, have rejoiced over its introduction, even 
m so humble a form, into the mind of this man, and 
probably see in fact but little difTerence, in point of 
speculative greatness, between his manner of viewing 
and illustrating it and mine. If Jesus Christ could be 
on earth as before, he v.'ould receive this disciple, and 
benignantly approve, for its operation on the heart, that 
faith in his doctrines, VN?hich men of taste might be tempt- 
ed to despise for its want of intellectual refinement 
And since all his true disciples are destined to attain 
greatness at length, the time is coming, when each 
pious though r.ovv' contracted mind will do justice to 
this high subject. Meanwhile, such as this subject v^ill 
appear to the intelligence of immortals, and such as it 
v/ill be expressed in their eloquence, such it really is 
now ; and I should deplore the perversity of my mind, 
if I felt more disposed to take the character of the re- 
ligion from that style of its exhibition in which it ap- 
pears humiliated, than from that in which I am assured 
it will be sublime. If v/hile we are all advancing to meet 
the revelations of eternity, I have a more vivid and com- 
prehensive idea than these less privileged Christians, of 
the glory of our religion, as displayed in the New Tes- 
H 



tament, and if I can much more delightfully participato 
the sentiments which devout genius has uttered in the 
contemplation of it, I am therefore called upon to excel 
them as much in devotedness to this religion, as I have 
a more luminous view of its excellence. 

Let the spirit of the evangelical system once gain the 
ascendency, and it may thus defy the impressions tend- 
ing to associate disagreeable ideas with its principles ; 
as the angels in the house of Lot forced away the un- 
worthy assailants. But it requires a most extraordi- 
nary energy of conviction to obtain a cordial reception 
for these principles, if such impressions have pre-occu- 
pied the mind. And that they should thus have pre- 
occupied the man of taste, is not wonderful, if you 
consider. how early, how often, and by what diversities 
of the same general cause, they may have been made on 
him. As the gospel comprises an ample assemblage of in- 
tellectual views, and as the greater number of Christians 
are inevitably disqualified to do justice to them, even 
in any degree, by the same causes which disqualify 
them to do justice to other intellectual subjects, it is 
. not improbable, that the greater number of expressions 
which he has heard in his whole life, have been utterly 
below the subject. Obviously this is a very serious 
circumstance ; for if he had heard as much spoken on 
any other intellectual subject, as, for instance, poetry, 
or astronomy, for which perhaps he has a passion, and 
if a similar proportion of what he had heard had been 
as much below the subject, he would probably have ac- 
quired but little partiality for either of those studies. 
And it is a very melancholy disposition against the hu- 
man heart, that the gospel needs fewer unfavourable 
associations to become repulsive in it, than any other 
important subject. 

The injurious impressions have perhaps struck his 
mhid in many ways. For instance, he has met with some 
zealous Christians, who not only were very slightly ac- 
quainted with the evidences of the truth, and the illus- 
trations of the reasonableness, of their religion, but who 
actually felt no interest in the inquiry. Perhaps more 
than one individual attempted to deter him from pursu- 
ing it, by suggesting that inquiry either implies doubt, 
which was pronounced a criminal state of mind, or vi'ill 
probably lead to it, as a judgment on the profane curi- 
osity which, on such a subject, was not satisfied with 
implicitly believing. It was thought that an attempt to 
examine the found'ation would be likelv to end in a wish 
to demolish the structure. 

He may sometimes have heard the discourse of sin- 
cere Christians, whose religion involved no intellectual 
exercise, and, strictly speaking, no subject of intellect. 
Separately from their feelings, it had no definition, no 
topics, no distinct succession of views. And if he or 
some other person attempted to talk on some part of 
the religion itself, as a thing definable and important, 
independently of the feelings of any individual, and aa 
consisting in a vast congeries of ideas, relating to ths 
divine government of the world, to the general nature 
of the economy disclosed by the Messiah, to the distinct 
doctrines in the theory of that economy, to moral prin- 
ciples, and to the greatness of the future prospects of 
man, — they seemed to have no concern in that religion, 
and impatiently interrupted the subject with the obser- 
vation — That is not experience. 

Others he has heard continually recurring to two or 
three points of opinion, selected perhaps in conformity 
to a system, or perhaps in consequence of some casual' 
direction of the individual's thoughts, and asserted to be 
the life and essence of Christianity. These opinions he 
has heard zealously though not argumcntatively defend- 
ed, even when thoy were not attacked or questioned. 
If they were called in question, it was an evidence not 
less of depraved principle than of perverted judgment. 
All other religious truths were represented as deriving 
their authority and importance purely from these, and 
indeed as deriving so little authority and importance, 



50 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



that it was almost needless ever to advert to them. 
The neglect of constantly repeating and enforcing these 
opinions was said to be the chief cause of the melan- 
choly failure attending the efforts to promote Christian- 
ity in the world, and of the decay of particular religious 
societies. Though he could not perceive how these 
points were essential to Christianity, even admitting 
them to be true, they were made the sole and decisive 
standard for distinguishing between a genuine and a 
false profession of it. And perhaps they were abruptly 
applied in eager haste to any sentiment which he hap- 
pened to express concerning religion, as a test of its 
quality, and a proof of its corruptness. 

In some instances, he may have observed some one 
idea or doctrine, though not especially sanctioned by any 
system, to have so monopolized the mind, that every 
conversation, from whatever point of the compass it 
started, was certain to find its way to the favourite to- 
pic, while he was sometimes fretted, sometimes amused, 
and never much improved, by observing its progress to 
the appointed place. If his situation and connexions 
rendered it unavoidable for him often to hear this un- 
fortunate manner of discoursing on religion, his mind 
probably fell into a fault very sim.ilar to that of his well- 
meaning acquaintance. As this worthy man could never 
speak on the subject without soon bringing the whole 
of it down to one particular point, so the more refined 
and intellectual listener became unable, to think on the 
subject without adverting immediately to the narrow il- 
lustration of it exhibited by this one man. In conse- 
quence of this connexion of ideas, he perhaps felt dis- 
inclined to think on the subject at all ; or, if he was 
disposed or constrained to think of it, he was so averse 
to let his views of Christianity thus converge to the lit- 
tleness of a point, that he laboured to expand them, till 
thev lost all specifically evangelical distinctions in the 
wildness of generality and abstraction. 

Again — the majority of Christians are precluded, by 
their condition in life, from any acquirement of general 
knowledge. It would be unpardonable in this more 
cultivated man, not to make the allowance for the na- 
tural effect of this circumstance on the extent of their 
religious ideas. But he has met with numbers, who 
had no inconsiderable means, both as to money, judging 
by their unnecessary expenses, and as to leisure, judg- 
ing by the quantity of time consumed in useless chat, 
or in needless sleep, to furnish their minds with various 
information, but who were quite on a level, in this re- 
spect, with those of the humblest rank. They never 
even suspected that knowledge could have any con- 
nexion with religion ; or that they could not be as clearly 
and amply in possession of the great subject as a man 
whose faculties had been exercised, and whose extended 
acquaintance with things would supply an endless series 
of ideas illustrative of religion. He has perhaps even 
heard them make a kind of merit of their indifference to 
knowledge, as if it were the proof or the result of a higher 
value for religion. If a hint of wonder was insinuated 
at their reading so little, and within so very confined a 
scope, it would be replied, that they thought it enough 
to read the Bible ; as if it were possible for a person 
whose mind fixes with inquisitive attention on what is 
before him, even to read through the Bible without 
thousands of such questions being started in his thoughts 
as can be answered only from sources of information 
extraneous to the Bible. But he perceived that this 
leading the Bible was no work of inquisitive thought ; 
and indeed he has commonly found that those who 
have no wish for any thing like a general improvement 
in knowledge, have no disposition for the real business of 
thinking even in religion, and that their discourse on 
that subject is the exposure of intellectual poverty. He 
lias seen them live on for a number of years content 
with the same confined views, the same meagre list of 
topics, and the same uncouth religious language. In so 
inconsiderable a space of time, the diligent investigation 



of truth would have given much more clearness to their 
faculties, and much more precision to the articles of 
their belief They might have ramified the few leading 
articles, into a rich diversity of subordinate principles 
and important inferences. They might have learned to 
place the Christian truth in all those combinations with 
the other parts of our knowledge, by wh'ich it is enabled 
to present new and striking aspects, and to multiply its 
arguments to the understanding, and its appeals to the 
heart. They might have rendered nature, history, and 
the present views of the moral world, tributary to the 
illustration and the effect of their religion. But they 
neglected, and even despised, all these means of en- 
larging their ideas of a subject which they professed to 
hold of infinite importance. Yet, perhaps, if this man 
of more intellectual habits showed but little interest in 
conversing with them on that subject, or seemed de- 
signedly to avoid it, this was considered as pure aver- 
sion to religion ; and what had been uninteresting to him 
as a doctrine, then became revolting as reproof* 

He may not unfrequently have heard worthy but illi- 
terate persons expressing their utmost admiration of 
saying, passages in books, or public discourses, which 
he could not help perceiving to be hardly sense, or to be 
the dictates of conceit, or to be common-place inllated 
to fustian. While, on the other hand, if he has intro- 
duced a favourite passage, or an admired book, they 
have perhaps shown no perception of its beauty, or ex- 
pressed a doubt of its tendency, from its not being in 
canonical diction. Or, perhaps they have directly avow- 
ed that thev could not understand it, in a manner that 
very plainly implied that therefore it was of no value. 
Possibly when he has expressed his high admiration of 
some of the views of the gospel, such, for instance, as 
struck the mind of Rousseau, he has been mortified to 
find that some sublime distinctions of the religion of 
Christ are lost to many of his disciples, from being of too 
abstract a kind for the apprehension of any but improved 
and reflective men. 

If he had generally found in those professed Christians 
whose intellectual powers and attainments were small, 
a candid humility, instructing them, while expressing 
their animated gratitude for what acquaintance with re- 
ligion they had been able to attain, and for the immor- 
tal hopes springing from it, to feel that they had but a 
confined view of the subject which is of immense va- 
riety and magnitude, he would have been too much 
pleased by this amiable feeling, to be much repelled by 
the defective character of their conceptions and expres- 
sions. But often, on the contrary, he has observed 
such a complacent sense of sufficiency in the little 
sphere, as if it self-evidently comprised every thing 
which it is possible, or which it is of consequence, for 
any mind to see in the Christian religion. They were 
like persons who should doubt the information that an 
infinitely greater number of stars can be seen through a 
telescope than they ever beheld, and who should have 
no curio.sity to try. 

Many Christians may have appeared to him to attach 
an extremely disproportionate importance to the precise 
modes of religious observances, not only in the hour of 
controversy respecting them, when they are always ex- 
travagantly magnified, but in the habitual course of 
their religious references. These modes may be either 
such as are adhered to by whole communities of Chris- 
tians, perhaps as their respective marks of distinction 
from one another ; of any smaller ceremonial peculiari- 
ties, devised and pleaded for by particular individuals 
or families. 

The religious habit of some Christians may have dis- 
gusted him excessively. Every thing which could even 
distantly remind him of grimace, would inevitably do 
this ; as, for instance, a solemn lifting up of the eyes, 

* I own tliat what I sakl of Jesus Christ's o-Iadly recpivinc: one 
of the hiiniblei- intellectual order for his di.sciple, will but UI 
apply to some of the characters that I describe. 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



51 



artificial impulse of the breath, grotesque and regulated 
gestures and postures in religious exercises, an affect- 
ed faltering of the voice, and, I might add, abrupt re- 
ligious exclamations in common discourse, though they 
were even benedictions to the Almighty, which he 
has often heard sO' ill-timed as to hare an irreverent 
and almost a ludicrous effect. In a mind such as I 
am supposing, the happiest improvement in point of 
veneration for genuine religion will produce no toler- 
ance still for such habits. Nor will the dislike to them 
be lessened by ever s.t perfect a conviction of the 
sincere piety of any of the persons who have fallen into 
them. * 

In the conversation of illiteVate Christians he has per- 
haps frequently heard the most unfortunate metaphors 
and similes, employed to explain or enforce evangelical 
sentiments ; and probably, if he twenty times recollect- 
ed one of those sentiments, or if he heard a similar one 
from some other quarter, the repulsive figure was sure 
to recur to his imagination. If he has heard so many 
of these, that each Christian topic has acquired its ap- 
propriate images, you can easily conceive what a lively 
perception of the importance of the subject itself must 
be requisite to overcome the disgust and banish the 
associations. The feeling accompanying these- topics, 
as connected with these ideas, will be somewhat like 
that which spoils the pleasure of reading a noble poet, 
Virgil, for instance, when each admired passage recalls 
the images into which it has been degraded in that kind 
of imitation denominated travesty. It may be added, 
that the reluctance to think of the subject because it is 
connected with these ideas, strengthens that connexion. 
For often the earnest wish not to dwell on the disagree- 
able images, produces a mischievous reaction by which 
they press in more forcibly. The tenacity with which 
ideas adhere to the mind, is in proportion to the degree 
of interest, whether pleasing or unpleasing, which ac- 
companies them ; and an idea cannot well be accompanied 
by a stronger kind of interest than the earnest wish to 
escape from it. If we could cease to dislike it, it would 
soon cease to haunt us. It may also be observed, that 
the infrequency of thinking upon the evangelical sub- 
jects, will confirm the injurious associations. The same 
mental law operates in regard to subjects as to persons. 
If any unfortunate incident, or any circumstance of ex- 
pression or conduct, displeased us in our first meeting 
with a person, it will be strongly recalled each subsequent 
time that we see him, if we meet him but seldom ; on 
the contrary, if our intercourse with a person becomes 
frequent or habitual, such a first unpleasing circum- 
stance, and many following ones may be forgotten. 
This observation might be of some use to a man that 
really wishes to dissolve in his mind the connexion be- 
tween evangelical subjects and such disagreeable ideas; 
as he will perceive that one of the most effectual means 
would be, to make those subjects familiar by often 
thinking on them. 

While remarking on the effect of unpleasing images 
employe'' to illustrate Christian principles, I cannot 
help wishing that religious teachers were aware of the 
propriety of not amplifying the less dignified class of 
those metaphors which it may be proper enough some- 
times to introduce, and which perhaps are employed, in 
a short and transient way in the Bible. , I shall notice 
only that common one in which the benefits and plea- 
sures of religion are represented under the image of 
food. I do not recollect that, in the New Testament 
at least, this metaphor is ever drawn to a great length. 
But from the facility of the process, it is not strange 
that it has been amplified both in books and discourses 
into the most extended descriptions ; and the dining- 
room has been exhausted of images, and the language 
ransacked for substantives and adjectives, to stimulate 
the spiritual palate. The metaphor is combined with 
so many terms in our language, that it will sometimes 
unavoidably occur ; and when emoioyed in the simplest 
18* 



and shortest form, it may, by transiently suggesting the 
analogy, assist the thought without lessening the sub- 
ject. But it is degradnig to spiritual ideas to be exten- 
sively and systematically transmuted, I might say 
cooked, into sensual ones. The analogy between mean- 
er things and dignified ones should never be pursued 
farther than one or two points of necessar}' illustration ; 
for if it is traced to every circumstance in which a re- 
semblance can be found or fancied, the meaner thing no 
longer serves the humble and useful purpose of merely 
illustrating some qualities of the great one, but be- 
comes formally its representative and equal. By their 
being made to touch at all points, the meaner is con* 
stituted a scale to measure and to limit the magnitude ' 
of the superior, and thus the importance of the one 
shrinks to the insignificence of the other. It will take 
some time for a man to recover any great degree of 
solemnity in thinking on the delights or the supports of 
religion, after he has seen them reduced into a,ll the 
forms of eating and drinking. In such detailed analo- 
gies it often happens, that the most fanciful, or that the 
coarsest points of the resemblance, remain longest in 
the thoughts. When the mind has been taught to de- 
scend to a low manner of considering divine truth, it 
will easily descend to the lowest. There is no such 
violent tendency to abstraction and sublimity in the 
minds of the generality of readers and hearers, as to 
render it necessary to take any great pains for the pur- 
pose of retaining their ideas in some small degree of 
alliance with matter. ' 

The preceding pages are a short description of some 
of the prominent circumstances of repellency, which 
are connected with evangelical religion by means of its 
uncultivated and injudiciojs professors ; and more 
might have been added. After such a description, it 
would be unjust not to observe that some Christians, 
of a subordinate intellectual order, are distinguished 
by such an unassuming simplicity, by so much refine- 
ment of 'conscience, and by a piety so fervent and t^en 
exalted, that it would imply a very perverted state of 
mind in a cultivated man, if these examples did not 
operate, notwithstanding the confined scope of their 
ideas, to attract him toward the faith which renders them 
so happy and excellent, rather than to repel' him from 
it. But I am supposing his mind to be in a perverted 
state, and am far from the impiety of defending him. 
This supposition, however, being made, I feel no sur- 
prise, on surveying the majority of the persons compos- 
ing evangehcal communities, that this man has acquired 
an accumulation of prejudices against some of the dis- 
tinguishing features of the gospel. Permitting himself 
to feel as if the circumstances which thus diminish or 
distort an order of Christian sentiments, were insepa- 
rable from it, he is inclined to regret that there should 
be any divine sanctions against his framing for himself, 
on the foundation of those principles in Christianity 
which he cannot but admire, but with a qualifying inter- 
mixture of foreign elements, a more liberalized scheme 
of religion. 

It was especially unfortunate if, in the advanced 
s';age of this man's perhaps highly cultivated youth, 
while he was exulting in the conscious enlargement of 
intellect, and the quickening and vivid perceptiveness 
of taste, but was still to be regarded as in a degree the 
subject of education, it was his lot to have the princi- 
ples of rehgion exhibited and inculcated in a repulsive 
language and cast of thought by the seniors of his fa- 
mily or acquaintance. In that case, the unavoidable 
frequency of intercouse must have rendered the coun- 
teractive operation of the unpleasing circumstances, 
associated with Christian truth, almost incessant. 
And it would naturally become continually stronger. 
For each repetition of that which o.ffended his refined 
intellectual habits, would incite him to value and cher- 
ish them the more, and to cultivate them according to 
a standard still more foreign fi-om all congeniality with 



52 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



his instructers. These habits he began and continued 
to acquire from boolcs of elegant sentiment or philo- ' 
sophical research, which he read in disregard of the 
advice, perhaps, to read scarcely any but works speci- 
fically religious. To such studies he has again and 
again returned with an animated rebound from syslem- 
aCic common-places, whether delivered in private or in 
public instruction ; and has felt the full contrast be- 
tween the force, lustre, and mental richness, accompa- 
nyin<T the moial speculations or poetical visions of ge- 
nius, and the manner in which the truths of the gos- 
pel had been conveyed. He was not serious and hon- 
est enough to make, when in retirement, any delibe- 
rate trial of abstracting these truths from the shape in 
which they were thus unhappily set forth, in order to 
see what they would appear in a better. He could easily 
have transferred them into this better form ; or, at least, 
if he could not, he had but a very small portion of that 
mental ' superiority ' of which he was congratulating 
himself that his disgusts were an evidence. But his 
sense of the duty of doing this was perhaps less co- 
gent, from his perceiving that the evangelical doctrines 
were inculcated by his relatives with no less deficiency 
of the means of proving them true, than of rendering 
them interesting ; and be could easily discern that his 
instructers had received the articles of their faith im- 
plicitly from a class of teachers, or a religious commu- 
nity, without even a subsequent e.xercise of reasoning 
to confirm what they had thus adopted. They believed 
these articles through the habit of hearing them, and 
maintained them by the habit of believing them. The 
recoil of his feelings, therefore, did not alarm his con- 
science with the conviction of its being absolutely the 
truth of God, that, under this uninviting form, he was 
reluctant to embrace. Unaided by such a conviction 
already existing in him, and unarmed with a force of 
argument sufficient to impress it, the seriousness, per- 
haps sometimes harsh seriousness, of his friends, inces- 
santly asserting his mind to be in a fatal condition, till 
ho should think and feel exactly as they did, was httle 
likely to conciliate his repugnance. When sometimes 
their admonitions took the mild or pathetic tone, his 
respect for their piety, and his gratitude for their affec- 
tionate solicitude, had perhaps a momentary effect to 
make him earnestly wish he could abdicate every intel- 
lectual refinement, and adopt in pious simplicity all 
their feelings and ideas. But as the contracted views, 
the rude figures, and the mixture of systematic and 
illiterate language, recurred, his mind would again re- 
volt, and compel him to say. They cannot, will not, be 
my mode of rehgion. 

Now, one wishes there had been some enlightened 
friend to say to such a man, Why will you not under- 
stand that there is no necessity for this to be the mode 
of your religion 1 By what want of acuteness do you 
fail to distinguish between the mode, (a mere extrinsic 
and casual mode,) and the substance 1 In the world 
of nature you see the same simple elements wrought 
into the plainest and most beautiful, into the most di- 
minutive and the most majestic forms. So the same 
cimple principles of Christian truth may constitute the 
basis of a very inferior, or a very noble, order of ideas. 
The principles themselves have an invariable quality ; 
hut they were not imparted to man to be fi.^ed in the 
mind as so many bare scientific propositions, each con- 
fined to one single mode of conception, without any 
collateral ideas, and to bo alv.-ays expressed in one un- 
alterable form of v,fords. They arc placed there in or- 
der to spread out, if I might so express it, into a great 
multitude and diversity of ideas and feelin<Ts. These 
ideas and feehngs, forming round the pure, simple prin- 
ciples, will correspcmd, and will make those principles 
Beem to correspond, to the meaner or more dignified 
intellectual rank of the mind. Why will you not per- 
ceive that the subject which takes so humble a style in 
Us less intellectual believers, unfolds greater propor- 



tions through a gradation of larger and still larger fa- 
culties, and with facility occupies the whole capacity 
of the amplest, in the same manner as the ocean fills a 
gulf as easily as a creek 1 Through this series it re- 
tains an identity of its essential principles, and appears 
progressively a nobler thing only by gaining a position 
for more nobly displaying itself. Why will yoii not 
follow it through this gradation, till it reach the point 
where it is presented in a greatness of character, to 
correspond with the improved state of your mind 1 
Never fear lest the gospel should prove not sublime 
enough for the elevation of your thoughts. If you 
could attain an intellectual eminence from which vou 
would look with pity on the rank which you at present 
hold, you would still find the dignity of this subject oc- 
cupying your level, and rising above it. Do you doubt 
this I What then do you think of such spirits, for in- 
stance, as those of Milton and Pascal ? And by hov» 
many degrees of the intellectual scale shall yours sur- 
pass them, to authorize your feeling that to be little 
which they felt to be great 1 They were often consciou» 
of the magnificence of Christian truth filling, distend- 
ing, and exceeding, their faculties, and sometimes 
wished for greater powers to do it justice. In their not 
blest contemplations, they did not feel their mind.s ele- 
vating the subject, but the subject elevating their minds. 
Now, consider that their views of the gospel were, in 
essence, the same with those of its meanest sincere 
disciples ; and that therefore many sentiments which, 
by their unhappy form have disgusted you so much, 
bore a faithful though humble analogy to the ideas of 
these sublime Christians. Why then, while hearing 
such sentiments, have y^v not learnt the habit of dart- 
ing upward, by means of this analogy, to the noblest 
style of the subject, instead of abandoning the subject 
itself in the recoil from the unfortunate mode of pre- 
senting it 1 Have you not cause to fear that your dis- 
like goes deeper than the mode of its appearance? 
For, else, would you not anxiously seek, and rejoice to 
meet the divine subject in that lustre of arrav, that 
transfiguration of aspect, by which its grandeur is thus 
redeemed I 

I would make a solemn appeal to the understanding 
and the conscience of such a man. I would say to 
him, Is it among the excellences of a mind of taste, 
that it loses, when the religion of Christ is concerned, 
all the value of its discrimination ? Do you not abso- 
lutely know that the littleness which you see investing 
that religion is adventitious ? Are you not certain that 
in hearing the discourse of such men, if they were now 
to be found, as ihose that I have named, the evangelicaJ 
truths would appear to you most sublime, and that they 
cannot be less noble in fact than they would appear as 
displayed from those minds I But even suppose that 
Ihey also failed, and that all modern Christians, with- 
out exception, had conspired to give an unimpressive 
aspect to the subject of their profession, do you never 
read the New Testament ! If you do, is it in that 
state of susceptible seriousness, without which you will 
have no just perception of its character ; without which 
you are but like an ignorant clown who, happening to 
look at the heavens, perceives nothing more awful in 
that wilderness of suns than in the row of lamps along 
the streets 1 If you do read that book in the better 
state of feeling, I have no comprehension of the me- 
chanism of your mind, if the first perception would not 
be that of a simple venerable dignity, and if the second 
would not be that of a certain abstract, undcfiiiable 
magnificence ; a perception of something which, behind 
this simplicity, expands into a greatness beyond the 
compass of your mind ; an impression like that with 
v/hich a thoughtful man would have looked on the coun- 
tenance of Newton, after he had published his discove- 
ries, feeling a kind of mystical ab <orption in the attempt 
to comprehend the magnitude of the soul residing with- 
in that form. When in this state of serious suscepti- 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



53 



bilily, have you not also perceived, in the character and 
the manner of the first apostles of this truth, while they 
were declaring it, an expression of dignity, altogether 
different from that of other distinguished men, and much 
more refined and heavenly 1 If you examined the cause, 
you perceived that the dignity arose partly from their 
being employed as living oracles of this truth, and still 
more from their whole characters being pervaded by its 
spirit. And have you not been sometimes conscious, 
for a moment, that if it possessed your soul in the same 
manner as it did theirs, it would make you one of the 
most elevated of mortals 1 You would then display a 
combination of sanctity, devotion, disinterestedness, 
superiority to external things, energy, and exulting 
hope, in comparison of which the ambition of a con- 
queror, or the pride of a self-admiring philosopher, 
would be a very vulgar kind of dignity. You acknow- 
ledge these representations to be just ; you allow that 
the kind of sublimity which you have sometimes per- 
ceived in the New Testament, that the qualities of the 
apostolic spirit, and that the intellectual and moral great- 
ness of some modern Christians, express the genuine 
character of the evangelical religion, and therefore 
evince its dignity. But then, is it not most disingenu- 
ous in you to allow the meanness which you know to 
be but associated and separable, to be admitted by your 
own mind as an excuse for its alienation from what is 
acknowledged to be the very contrary of meanness 1 
O'.ight you not to turn on yourself, with indignation at 
that want of rectitude which resigns you to the effect 
of these associations, or with contempt of the debility 
which tries in vain to break them 1 Is it for you to be 
offended at the mental weakness of Christians 1 you, 
whose intellectual vigour, and whose sense of justice, 
but leave you to sink helpless in the fastidiousness of 
sickly taste, and to lament that so manv inferior spirits 
have been consoled and saved by this divine faith as to 
make it impossible for you to embrace it, even though 
your own salvation depend on it 1 At the very same 
time perhaps this weakness takes the form of pride. 
Let that pride speak out ; it would be curious to hear 
it say, that your mental refinemei't perhaps mif^ht have 
permitted you to take your ground on that eininence of 
the Christian faith where Milton and Pascal stood, if 
so many humbler beings did not disgrace it, by occu- 
pying the declivity and the vale. 

But, after all, what need of referring to illustrious 
names, as if the claims of that which you acknowledge to 
be from heaven should be made to depend on the number 
of thuse who have received it gracefully ; or, as if a ration- 
al being could calmly wait for his taste to be conciliated, 
before he would embrace a system by which his immor- 
tal interest is to be secured 1 Is the difference, as de- 
clared by the Supreme Authority, between the conse- 
quences of cordially receiving or not receiving the evan- 
gelical system so small, that a solemn contemplation of 
it would not overwhelm you with wonder and mortifi- 
cation that so subordinate a counteraction could so^ong 
have mada you unjust to yourself! And if you avoid 
this contemplation, will therefore the difference, and the 
ultimate loss, prove the less serious because you would 
not exercise thought enough to anticipate it ? If the 
consequence should prove to be inexpressibly disas- 
trous, will a perversity of refinement appear a worthy 
cause for which to have incurred it 1 You deserve to 
be disgusted with a divine communication, and to lose 
its inestimable benefits, if you can thus let every thing 
have a greater influence on your feelings concerning it 
than its truth and importance, and if its accidental and 
separable associations with littleness, can counteract its 
essential inseparable ones with the Governor and Re- 
deemer of the world, with happiness, and vu-ith eternity. 
With what compassion you mi.ght be justly regarded by 
an illiterate but zealous Christian, whose interest in the 
truths of the New Testament at once constitutes the 
best fehcity here, and carries liira rapidly toward the 



kingdom of his Father ; while you are standing aloof, 
and perhaps thinking, that if he and all such as lie were 
dead, you might, after a while, acquire the spirit which 
should impel you also toward heaven. But why do you 
not feel your individual concern in this great subject as 
absolutely as if all men were dead, and you heard alone 
in the earth the voice of God ; or, as if you saw, like 
the solitary exile of Patmos, an awful appearance of 
Jesus Christ, and the visions of hereafter I What is it 
to you that many Christians have given an aspect of 
littleness to the gospel, or that a few have displayed it 
in majesty 1 



LETTER III. 

Another Cause the Peculiarity nf Language adopted in reli- 
gious Jjisrourse and Writing — Classical Standard of Lan- 
guage — The theological Deviation from it barbarous — 
Surprise and Perplexity of a sensible heathen Foreigner, 
who, having learnt our Language according to its best 
Standard alone, should he introduced to hear a public evan- 
gelical Discourse — Distinctive Characters of this Theological 
Dialect — Reaso7ts against employing it — Competence of our 
Language to express all re'igious Ideas without the aid of 
this uncouth Peculiarity — Ad.r.ii't'yges that iimdd atteiidlhe 
Use of the Language of mere general IntflUsence. witli the 
addition of an extremely small Number if IVords that may 
be considered as necessary technical Terms in Theology. 

Another cause which I think has tended to render 
evangelical religion less acceptable to persons of taste, 
is the peculiarity of lang^iage adopted in the discourses 
and books of its teachers, as well as in the religious 
correspondence and conversation of Christians. I do 
not refer to any past age, when an excessive quaintness 
deformed the style of composition, both on religion and 
all other subjects : my assertion is respecting the diction 
at present in use. 

The works collectively of the best writers in the lan- 
guage have created and substantially fixed a standard of . 
genera! phraseology. If any department is exempted 
from the authority of this standard, it is the low one of 
humour and buffoonery, in which the writer may coin 
and fashion phrases according to his whim. But in the 
language of higher, and of what may be called middle 
subjects, that authority is the law. It does indeed al- 
low indefinite varieties of what is called style, since 
twenty pure and able writers might be cited, who have 
had each a different style ; but yet there is a certain gene- 
ral character of expression which they have mainly con- 
curred to establish. This compound result of all their 
modes of writing is become sanctioned as the classical 
manner of employing the language, as the form in 
which it constitutes the most pure general vehicle of/ 
thought. And, though it is difficult to define this 
standard, yet a well-read person of taste instantly feels 
when it is transgressed or deserted, and pronounces 
that no classical writer has emploved that phrase or 
would have combined those words in such a manner. 

Now the deviations from this standard must be, first, 
by mean or vulgar diction, which is below it ; or, se- 
condly, by a barbarous diction, which is out of it, or fo- 
reign to it ; or, thirdly, by a diction which, though 
foreign to it, is yet not to be termed barbarous, because 
it is elevated entirely above the authority of the stand- 
ard, by a super-human force or majesty of thought, or a 
super-human communication of truth. 

I might make some charge against the language of 
divines under the first of these distinctions ; but my 
present attention is to what seems to me to come under 
the second character of difference from the standard, 
that of being barbarous. The phrases peculiar to any 
trade, profession, or fraternity, are barbarous, if they 
were not low : they are commonly both. The language 
of law is felt by everv one to be barbarous in the ex- 
treme, not only by the huge lumber of its technical 



54 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



terms, but by its very structure, in such parts of it as 
do not consist of technical tirms. The language of 
science is barbarous, as far as it differs arbitrarily, and 
m more than the use of those terms which are indispen- 
sable to the science, from the pure general model. And 
I am afraid that, on the same principle, the accustomed 
diction of evangelical religion also must be pronounced 
barbarous. For I suppose it will be instantly allowed, 
that the mode cf expression of the greater number of 
evangelical divines,* and of those taught by them, is 
widely different from the standard of general language, 
not only by the necessary adoption of some peculiar 
terms, but by a continued and systematic cast of phrase- 
ology ; insomuch that in reading or hearing five or six 
sentences of an evangelical discourse, you ascertain the 
school by the mere turn of expression, independently of 
any attention to the quality of the ideas. If, in order 
to try what those ideas would appear in an altered form 
of words, you attempted to reduce a paragraph to the 
language employed by intellectual men in speaking or 
writing well on general subjects, you would find it must 
be absolutely a version There is no room and no 
need to collect phrases and quotations ; but you know 
how easily it could be done ; and the specimens would 
give the idea of an attempt to create, out of the general 
mass of the language, a dialect which should be intrin- 
sically spiritual ; and so excessively appropriated to 
Christian doctrine as to be totally unserviceable for any 
other subject, and to become ludicrous when applied to 
it.t And this being extracted, like the Sabbath from 
the common course of time, the general range of diction 
is abandoned, with all its powers, diversities, and ele- 
gance, to secular subjects and the use of the profane. 
It is a kind of popery of language, vilifying every thing 
not marked with the signs of the holv church, and for- 
bidding any one to minister to religion except in conse- 
crated speech. 

Supposing that a heathen foreigner had acquired a 
full acquaintance with onr language in its most classi- 
cal construction, yet without learninsr any thing about 
the gospel, (which it is true enough he might do.) and 
that he then happened to read or hear an evangelical 
discourse — he would be exceedingly surprised at the 
strange cast of phraseolocry. He would probably be 
more arrested and occupied by the singularity of the 
diction than bv that of the ideas ; whereas the general 
course of the diction should appear but the same as 
that to v^'hich he had been accu^tomed. It should be 
such that he would not even think of it, but only of the 
new subject and peculiar ideas which it should present 
to his view ; unless there could be some advantage in 
the necessity of looking at these ideas throiigh the mist 
and confusion of the double medium, created by the 
superinduction of an uncouth dialect on a plain language. 
— Or, if he were not a stranger to the subject, but had 

*'When I say evanselicnl divines, I concur with the opinion 
ef those, who (ieem a considerable, and, in an intellectual and 
literary view, a highly respectable class of the writers who have 
professedly tausht Christ!ap''y, to be not strictly evanErelical. 
They miffVi,, rather be denominated moral and. philosophical di- 
vines, treating very ably on the seneralities of reliffion, and on 
ihe Christian morals, but not plncin? the economy of redemp- 
tion exactly in that lijht in which the New Testament appears 
to me to place it. Some of these have avoided the kind of dia- 
lect on which I am animadvertins, not ordy by means of a dic- 
tion more classical and dianified in the general principles of its 
structure, but also by avoiding the iileas with which the phrases 
of his dialect are commonly associated. 1 may, however, here 
observe, that it is by no means aUosether confined to the speci- 
ficallv evangelical department of writing and discourse, though 
it there prevails the mot, and with the greatest number of 
phrases. It extends m some degree, into the majority of writing 
on reliiion in general, and may therefore be called the theolo- 
gical, almost as properly as the evangelical dialect. 

t This is so true, that it is no uncommon expedient with the 
would-be wits, to introduce some of the spiritual phrases, in 
speaking of any thing which they wish to render hidicrous ; and 
they are generally so far successful as to he rewarded by the 
laugh or the smile of the circle, who probably may never have 
had the privilege of hearing wit, and have not the sense or con- 
■cience to care about religion. 



acquired its leading principles from some author or 
speaker, who employed (with the addition of a very 
small number ,pf peculiar terms) the same style in 
which any other serious subject would have been illus- 
trated, he would still be not less surprised. ' Is it pos- 
sible,' he would say, as soon as he could apprehend 
what he was attending to, ' that these are the very 
same views which lately presented themselves with 
such lucid simplicity to my understanding ! Or, is there 
something more, of which I am not aware, conveyed 
and concealed under these strange devices of phrase T 
Is this another stage of the religion, the school of the 
adepts, in which I am not yet initated 1 And does re- 
ligion then, every where, as well as in my country, af- 
fect tb show and guard its importance by relinquishing 
the simple language of intelligence, and assuming an 
obscure dialect of its own 1 Or, is this the diction of 
an individual only, and of one who really intends but to 
convey the same ideas that I have elsewhere received 
in so much more clear and direct a vehicle of words T 
But then, in what remote comer, placed beyond the 
authority of criticism and the circulation of literature, 
where a noble language stagnates into barbarism, did 
this man study his religion and acquire his phrases 1 
Or, by what inconceivable perversion of taste and of 
labour has he framed, for the sentiments of his religion, 
a mode of expression so uncongenial with the eloquence 
of his country, and so adapted to dissociate them from 
all connexion with that eloquence?' 

My dear friend, if I were not conscious of a solemn 
and cordial veneration for evangelical religion itself, I 
should be more afraid to trust myself in making these 
observations on the usual manner of expressing its 
ideas. If I am candid, I am willing to be corrected. 
Perhaps my description of this manner exaggerates ; 
but that there is a great and systematical difference be- 
tween it and the true classical diction, is most palpably 
obvious, and I cannot help regarding it as an unfortu- 
nate circumstance. It gives the gospel too much the 
air of a professional thing, which must have its pecu- 
liar cast of phrases, for the mutual recognition of its 
proficients, in the same manner as other professions, 
arts, and mysteries, have theirs. This is officiously 
placing the singularity of littleness to draw attention to 
the singularity of greatness, which in the very act it 
misrepresents and obscures. It is giving an uncouth- 
ness of mein to a beauty which should attract all hearts. 
It is teaching a provincial dialect to the rising instruc- 
ter of a world. It is imposingahe guise of a cramp- 
ed, formal ecclesiastic on what is destined for an uni- 
versal monarch. 

Would it not be an improvement in the administra- 
tion of religion, by discourse and writing, if Christian 
truth were conveyed in that neutral vehicle of expres- 
sion which is adapted indifferently to common serious 
subjects '' But it may be made a question, whether it 
can be perfectly conveyed in such language. This 
point, therefore, requires a little consideration. The 
diction on which I have animadverted may be distin- 
guished into three parts. 

The first a peculiar mode of using various common 
words. And this peculiarity consists partly in express- 
ing ideas by such single words as do not simply and 
directly belong to them, instead of other single words 
which do simply and directly belong to them, and in 
general language are used to express them ;* and partly 
in using such combinations of words as make uncouth 
phrases. Now, is this necessary T The answer to 
the question is immediately obvious as to the former 
part of the description ; there can be no need to use 
one common word in an affected manner to convey an 
idea which there is another common word at hand to 
express in the simplest and most usual manner. And 

* As, for instance, walk and conversation, instead of conduct, 
actions, or ileportment ; llesh, instead of, sometimes body, soma 
times natural inclination^ 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



55 



then as to phrases, consisting of an uncouth combina- 
tion of words which are common, and have no degree 
of technicahty, — are they necessary 1 They are not 
absohitely necessary, unless each of these combinations 
conveys a thought of so exquisitely singular a signifi- 
cation, that no other conjunction of terras could have 
expressed it ; a thought which was never suggested by 
one mind to another till these three or four words hap- 
pened to fall out of the general order of the language 
into the cluster of a peculiar phrase ; a thought which 
cannot be expressed in the language of another country 
that has not a correspondent idiom ; and v/hich will 
vanish from the world if ever this phrase shall be for- 
gotten. But these combinations of words have no 
such pretensions. They will seldom appear to express 
a meaning which it required such a fortutiate or such a 
dexterous expedient to bring and to retain within the 
scope of our ideas. Very often their sense is of so ge- 
neral and common a kind, that you could easily have 
expressed it in five or ten different forms of words. 
Som<? of these phrases would seem to have been origi- 
nally the mere produce of affectation ; and some to 
have beerx invented to give an appearance of particular 
significance to ideas which were so plain and common, 
that they seemed to have no force as exhibited in the 
ordinary cast of diction. In religion, as in other de- 
partments, artificial turns of expression have often been 
resorted to, in order to relieve the obvious plainness 
of the thought. In whatever manner, however, the 
language vvas first perverted into these artificial modes. 
It would be easy to try whether they are become such 
special and privileged vehicles of thought that no other 
forms of words can express what is supposed to be 
their sense. And it would be found that these phrases, 
as it is within our familiar experience that all phrases, 
consisting of only common words, and having no rela- 
tion to art or science, can be exchanged for several 
different combinations of words, without materially al- 
tering the thought or lengthening the expression. I 
conclude, then, that what I have described as the first 
part of the theological dialect, the peculiar mode of 
using common words, is not absolutely necessary as a 
vehicle of Christian truths. 

The second part of the diction consists, not in a pe- 
culiar mode of using common words, but in a class of 
words peculiar in themselves, as being seldom used ex- 
cept by divines, but of which the meaning can with 
perfect ease be expressed, without definition or circum- 
locution, by other single terms which are in general 
Use. For example, edification, tribulation, blessed- 
ness, godliness, righteousness, carnality, lusts, (a term 
peculiar and theological only in the plural,) could be 
exchanged for parallel terms too obvious to need men- 
tioning. It is true, indeed, that there are verv few terms, 
if any, perfectly synonymous. But when there are se- 
veral words of very similar though not exactly the same 
signification, and none of them belong to an art or sci- 
ence, the one which is selected is far more frequently 
used in thr t general meaning by which it is merely 
equivalent to the others, than in that precise shade of 
meaning by which it is distinguished from them. The 
words instruction, improvement, for instance, may not 
express exactly the sense of edification ; but the word 
edification is probably not often used by a writer or 
speaker with any recollection of that peculiarity of its 
meaning by which it differs from the meaning of im- 
provement or instruction. This is still more true of 
some other words, as, for example, tribulation and 
affliction. Whatever small difference of import these 
words may have from their etymology, it is probable 
that no man evci- wrote tribulation rather than affli»tion 
on account of that difference. If, in addition to these 
two, the word distress has- occurred to the mind, the 
selection of any one from the three has perhaps always 
been determined by habit, or accident, rather than by 
any perception of a distinct signifi-cation. The same 



remark will, in a great measure, apply to the words 
blessed, happy, righteous, virtuous, carnal, sensual, and 
a multitude of others. So that though there are few 
words in strict truth synonymous, yet there are very 
manv which are so in effect, even by the allowance and 
sanction of the most rigid laws to which the best vt'ti 
ters have conformed their composition. Perhaps this 
is a defect in human thinking, of which the ideal per- 
fection may be, that every conception should be so ex- 
quisitely discriminative and precise, that no two words, 
which have the most refined shade of difference in their 
meaning, should be equally and indifferently eligible to 
express that conception. But what writer or speaker 
will ever even aspire to such perfection 1 — not to say, 
that if he did, he would soon find the vocabulary of the 
most copious language deficient of single, direct terms 
to mark all the sensible modifications of his ideas. If 
a divine felt that he had such extreme discrimination 
of thought, that he meant something clearly different 
by the words, carnal, godly, edifying, and so of many 
others, from what he could express by the words, sen- 
sual, pious, religious, instructive, he would certainly 
do right to adhere to the more peculiar words ; but if 
he does not, he may perhaps improve the vehicle, with- 
out hurting the material, of his religious communica- 
tions, by adopting the general and classical mode of 
expression. 

The third distinction of the theological dialect consists 
in words almost peculiar to the language of divines, 
and for which equivalent terms cannot be found, except 
in the form of definition or circumlocution. Sanctifi- 
cation, grace, covenant, salvation, and a few more, may 
i e assigned to this class. These may be called, in a 
qualified sense, the technical terms of evangelical reli- 
■ gion. Now, separately from any religious considera- 
tions, it is plainly necessary, in a literary view, that 
all those terms that express a modification of thought 
which there are no other words competent to exjiress, 
without great circumlocution, should be retained. They 
are requisite to the perfection of the language. And 
then, in considering those terms as connected with the 
Christian truth, I am ready to adrhit. that it will be of 
advantage to that truth, for some of those peculiar modes 
of thought of which it partly consists, to be permanently 
denominated by certain peculiar words which shall 
stand as its technical terms. But here several thoughts 
suggest themselves. 

First, The definitions of some of these Christian 
terms are not absolutely unquestionable. The words 
have assumed the specific formality of technical terms, 
v/ithout having completely the quality and value of such 
terms. A certain laxity in their sense render them of 
far less use, in their department, than the terms of sci- 
ence, especially of mathematical science, are in theirs. 
Technical terms have been the lights of science, but, in 
many instances, the shades of religion. It is most un- 
fortunate, when, in disquisitions or instructions, the 
grand leading words on which the force of all the rest 
depends, have not a precise and indisputable significa- 
tion. The effect is similar to that which takes place 
in the ranks of an army, when an officer has a doubtful 
opinion, or gives indistinct orders. What I would in- 
fer from these observations, is, that a Christian writer 
or speaker will occasionally do well, instead of using 
the peculiar term, to express at length in other words, 
at the expense of much circumlocution, that idea which 
he would have wished to convey if he had used that 
peculiar term. I do not mean that he should do this 
so often as to render the term obsolete. It might be 
useful sometimes, especially in verbal instruction, both 
to introduce the term, and to give such a sentence as I 
have described. Such an expletive repetition of the 
idea will more than compensate for the tediousness by 
the clearness.* 

* II i."? nee'ilessi to observe that this would he a superfluous la- 
bour, with resppi't rw the most simple ol the peculiar words ; suefc 
lor instance, ^s salvation. 



.56 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



Secondly, If the definitions of the Christian pecuHar 
terms were even as precise and fixed as those of sci- 
entific denominations, yet the nature of the subject is 
Buch as to permit an indolent mind to pronounce or to 
hear these terms without recollecting those definitions. 
Ill delivering or writing, and in hearing br reading, a 
mathematical lecture, both the teacher and the pupil are 
compelled to form in their minds the exact idea which 
each technical term has been defined to signify ; else 
the whole train of words is mere sound and inanity. 
But in religion, a man has a feeling of having some 
general ideas connected with all the words as he hears 
them, though he perhaps never studies, or does not re- 
tain, the definition of one. I shall have occasion to re- 
peat this remark, and therefore do not enlarge here. 
The inference is the same as under the former obser- 
vation ; it is, that the technical terms of Christianity 
will contribute little to precision of thought, unless the 
ideas vv-hich they signify are often expressed at length 
in other words, either in explanation of those terms 
when introduced, or in substitution for them when 
omitted. 

Thirdly, It is not in the power of single theological 
terms, however precise their definitions may at any 
timi have been, to secure to their respective ideas an 
unalterable stability. Unless the ideas themselves, by 
being often expressed in common words, preserve the 
signification of the terms, the terms will not preserve 
the accuracy of the ideas. This is true no doubt of 
the technical terms of science ; but it is true in a much 
more striking manner of the peculiar vvfords in theology. 
If the technical terms of science, at least of the strict- 
est kind of science, .were to cease to mean what they 
had been defined to mean, they would cease to mean 
any thing, and the change would be only from know- 
ledge to ignorance. But, in the Christian theology, 
the change might be from truth to error ; since the pe- 
culiar words might cease to mean what they were once 
defined to mean, by being employed in a different sense. 
It inav not be difficult to conjecture in what sense con- 
version and regeneration, two more of the peculiar 
words, v/ere used by the reformers, and the men who 
may be called the fathers of the established church of 
this country ; but what sense have they subsequently 
borne in the writings of many of its divines 1 The pe- 
culiar words may remain, when the ideas, which they 
were intended to perpetuate, are gone. Thus, instead 
of being the signs of those ideas, they become their 
monuments, and monuments profaned into abodes for 
the living enemies of the departed. It must indeed be 
acknowledged, that in many cases innovations 9f doc- 
trine have been introduced partly by ceasing to employ 
the words which designated the doctrines which it was 
wished to render obsolete ; but, it is probable, they 
may have been still more frequently and successfully 
mtroduced under the advantage of retaining the terms 
while the principles were gradually subverted. And 
therefore I shall be pardoned for repeating this once 
m.ore, that since the peculiar words can be kept in one 
invariable signification only by keeping that signification 
clearly in sight by means of something separate from 
these words themselves, it would be wise in Christian 
authors and speakers sometimes to express the ideas in 
common words, either in expletive and explanatory 
connexion with the peculiar terms, or occasionally, 
instead of them. I would still be understood to ap- 
prove most entirely of the habitual use of a few of this 
class of terms ; while the above observations may tend 
to deduct very much from the usual estimate of their 
value and importance. 

These pages have attempted to show, in what par- 
ticulars the language adopted by a great proportion of 
Christian divines might be modified, and yet remain 
faithful to the principles of Christiiin doctrine. — Such 
common words as have acquired an alTected cast in the- 
ological use, might give place to the other common 



words which express the ideas in a plain and unaffacted 
manner ; and the phrases formed of common words 
uncouthly combined, may be dismissed. Many pecu- 
liar and antique words might be excnanged for other 
single words, of equivalent signification, and in gene- 
ral use. And the small number of peculiar terms ac- 
knowledged and established as of permanent use and 
necessity, might, even separately from the considera- 
tion of modifying the diction, be often, with advantage 
to the' explicit declaration and clear coinprehension o 
Christian truth, made to give place to a fuller expres- 
sion, in a number of common words, of those ideas oi 
which these peculiar terms are the single signs. 

Now, such an alteration would bring the language of 
divines nearly to the classical standard. If evangehcal 
sentiments could be faithfully presented in an order of 
words of which so small a part should beionir exclusive- 
ly to those sentiments, they could be presesited in what 
should be substantially the diction of Addison or Pope. 
And, if even Shaftesbury, Bolingbroke, and Hume, 
could have become Christians by some mighty and sud- 
den efficacy of conviction, and had determiied to write 
thenceforth in the spirit of the Apostles, they would 
have found, if these observations are correct, no radical 
change necessary in the structure of their language. 
An enlightened believer in Christianity might have been 
sorrv, if, in such a case, he had seen any of thpm super- 
stitiously labouring to acquire all the phrases of a 
school, instead of applying at once to its new and its 
noblest use a diction fitted for the vehicle of universal 
thought. Are not they yet sufficient masters of lan- 
guage, it might have been asked with surprise, to ex- 
])ress all their thoughts wrh the utmost precision 1 As 
their language had been found sufficiently specific to 
injure the gospel, it would have been strange if it had 
been too general to serv'e it. The required alteration 
would probably have been little more than to introduce 
familiarly the obvious denominations of the Christian 
topics and objects, such as. redemption, heaven. Media- 
tor, Christ. Redeemer, with the others of a similar kind, 
and a verv few of those almost technical words which I 
have admitted to be indispensable. The habitual use of 
such denominations would have left the general order 
of their composition the same. And it would have 
been striking to observe by how comparatively small 3 
difference of terms a diction which had appeared most 
perfectly pagan, could be christianized, when the writer 
had turned to Christian subjects, and felt the Christian 
spirit. On the whole, then, I conclude that, with the 
exception which I have distinctly made, the evangelical 
principles may be clearly exhibited in what may be 
called a neutral diction. And if they may, I can im- 
agine some reasons to justify the wish that it had been 
more generally employed. 

It wdl be permitted rae to repeat, as one of these 
reasons, the consideration of the impression made by 
the style which I have described on those persons of 
cultivated taste whom this essay has chiefly in view. 
I am aware that they are greatly inclined to make an 
idol of their taste ; and I am aware also that no species 
of irreligion can be much worse than to sacrifice to this 
idol any thing which essentially belongs to Christianity. 
If any part of evangelical religion, separately from all 
injurious associations, were of a nature to displease a 
finished taste, the duty would evidently be to repress 
its claims and murmurs. We should di-ead the pre- 
sumption which would require of the Deity, that his 
spiritual economy should be, both in fact and in a man- 
ner obvious to our view, subjected or correspondent in 
all parts to those laws of order and beauty, which we 
have learnt partly from the relations of the material world, 
and partly from the arbitrary institutions and habits 
of society. But, at the same time, it is a most unwise 
policy for religion, ihat the sacrihce of taste, which ought, 
if required, to be submissively made to anv part of either 
its essence or its form as really displayed from heaven. 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



57 



should be exacted to any thing unnecessarily and un- 
gracefully suiicrinduced by man. 

As anothnr reason, I would observe, that the disciples 
of the religio)) of Christ would wish it to mingle more 
extensively and familiarly with social converse, and all 
the serious objects of human attention. But then it 
should have every facility, that would not compromise 
its genuine character, for doing so. And a peculiar 
phraseology is the direct contrary of such facility, as it 
give"* to what is already by its own nature eminently 
distinguished from common subjects, an artificial 
strangeness, v/hich makes it difficult for discourse to 
slide into it, and revert to it, and from it, without a form- 
al and ungraceful transition. The subject is placed in 
' a condition like that of an entire foreigner in company, 
■who is debarred from taking ariy share in the conversa- 
tion, till some one interrupts it by turning it, directly to 
him, and beginning to talk with him m the foreign lan- 
guage. Yon have sometimes observed, when a person 
has introduced religious topics, in the course of perhaps 
a tolerably rational conversation on other interesting 
subjects, that, owing to the cast of expression, fully as 
much as to the difference of the subject, it was done 
bv an entire change of the whole tenour and bearings 
of the discourse, and with as formal an announcement 
as the bell ringing to church. Had his religious 
diction been more of a piece with the common train 
of sensible language, he might probablv have introduc- 
ed the subject sooner, and certainly with a much better 
effect. 

A third consideration, is, ihat evangelical sentiments 
would be less subject to the imputation of fanaticism, if 
. their language were less contrasted with that of other 
classes of sentiments. Here it is unnecessary to say, 
that no pusillanimity were more contemptible than that 
which, to escape this imputation, would surrender the 
smallest vital particle of the religion of Christ. We are 
to keep in solemn recollection his declaration, 'Who- 
soever shall be ashamed of me and my words, of him 
also shall the Son of Man be ashamed.' Any model of 
terms, which could not be superseded without preclud- 
ing some idea peculiar to the gospel from the possibility 
of being easily and most faithfully expressed, it would be 
for his disciples to retain, in spite of all the ridicule of 
the most antiehristian age. But I am, at every step, 
supposing that every part of the evangelical system 
can be most perfectly exhibited in a diction but little 
peculiar ; and, that being admitted, would it not be 
better to avert the imputation, as far as this di'Terence 
of language could avert it \ Better, I do not mean, in 
the way of protective convenience to any cowardly feel- 
ing, of the man who is liable to be called a fanatic for 
/ maintaining the evangelical principles ; he ought, on 
the ground both of Christian fidelity and of manly inde- 
pendence, to be superior to caring about the charge ; 
but better, as to the light in which these principles might 
appear to the persons who meet them with this preju- 
dice. You may have observed that in attributing fana- 
ticism, they often fix on the phrases, at least as much 
as on the aTisolute substance, of evangelical doctrines. 
Now would it not be better to show them what these 
doctrines are, as divested of these phrases, and exhibit- 
ed clearly in that vehicle in which other important truths 
are presented ; and thus, at least, to obviate and dis- 
appoint their propensity to seize on a mode of exhibition 
so convertible to the ludicrous, in defence against any 
claim to seriousness respecting the substantial matter 1 
If sometimes their grave attention, their corrected ap- 
prehension, their partial approbation, might be gained, it 
were a still more desirable effect. And we can recol- 
lect instances in which a certain degree of this good 
effect has resulted. Persons who had received unfavour- 
able impressions of some of the peculiar ideas of the 
gospel, from having heard them advanced almost ex- 
clusively in the modes of phrase on which I have re- 
marked, have acknowledged their prejudices to be di- 



minished, after these ideas had been presented, in the 
simple, general language of intellect. We cannot, 
indeed, so far forget the lessons of experience, and the 
inspired declarations concerning the disposition of the 
human mind, as to expect that any improvement in the 
mode of exhibiting Christian truth will render it irresis- 
tible. But it were to be wished that every thing should 
be done to bring reluctant minds into doubt, at least, 
whether, if they cannot be evangelical, it be because they 
are too sensible and refined. 

As a farther consideration in favour of adoptinij a more 
general language, it may be observed, that hypocrisy 
would then find a much greater difficulty, as far as speech 
is concerned, in supporting its im[)osture. The usual 
language of hypocrisy, at least of vulgar hypocrisy, is 
cant ; and religious cant is often an affected use of the 
phrases which have been heard employed as approjjriate 
to evangelical truth ; with which phrases the hypocrite 
has connected no distinct ideas, so that he would be 
confounded if a sensible examiner were to require an. 
accurate explanation of them; while yet nothing is more 
easy to be sung or said. Now, were this diction, for 
the greater part, to vanish from Christian society, leav- 
ing the truth in its mere essence behitid, — and were, 
consequently, the pretender reduced to assume the guise 
oi religion on the wide and laborious plan of acquiring 
an understanding of its leading principles, so as to be 
able to assign them discriminately in language of his 
own, — the part of a hypocrite would be much less easily 
acted, and less frequently attempted. Religion would 
therefore be seldomer dishonoured by the mockery of a 
false semblance. 

Again — if this alteratiop of language were introduc- 
ed, some of the sincere discipies of evangelical religion 
would much more distinctly feel the necessity of a 
positive intellectual hold on the principles of their jiro- 
fession. A systematic recurring formality of words 
tends to prevent a perfect understandingof the subject, 
by furnishing for complex ideas a set of ready-framed 
signs, (like stereotype in printing,) which a man learns 
to employ without really having the combinations of 
thought of vv'hich those ideas consist. Some of the 
simple ideas which belong to the combination may be 
totally absent from his mind — the others may be most 
faintly apprehended : there is no firecise construction 
therefore of the thought ; and thus the sign which he 
employs, stands in fact for notliirig. If, on hcarmg one 
of these phrases, you were to t:'rn to tl)e speaker, and 
say, Now, what is that ideal What do you plainly 
mean by that expression 1 — you would often find with 
how indistinct a conception, with how httte attention 
to the very idea itself, the mind had been contented. 
And this contentment you would often observe to be, 
not a humble acquiscence in a consciously defective 
apprehension of som.e principle of which a man feels 
and confesses the difriculty of attaining moro than a 
partial conception, but the satisfied assurance that he 
fully understands what he is expressing. On another 
subject, where there were no settled forms of words to 
beguile him into the feeling as if he thought and under- 
stood when in fact he did not, and wh«re words must 
have been selected to define his own apprehension of 
the thought, his embarrassment how to expre.ss himself 
would have made him conscious of the indistinctness of 
his conception, and have compelled an intellectual ef- 
fort. But it is against all justice, that Christian truth 
should be believed and professed with a less concern 
for precision, and at the expense of less mental exercise, 
than any other subject would require. And of how little 
conseqi:ence it would seem to be, in ihis mode of believ- 
ing, whether a man entertains one system of principles, 
or the opposite. 

But if such arguments could not be alleged, it would 
still seem far from desirable, without evident necessity, 
to clothe evangelical sentiment in a diction varying in 
more than a few indispensable terms from the general 



68 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



standard, for the simple reason, that it must be barbar- 
ous ; unless, as I have observed, it be raised quite 
above the authority of this standard, and of the criticism 
and the taste which appeal to it by the majesty of inspi- 
ration which we have no more to expect, or by the 
mighty intellectual action of a genius almost transcend- 
ing human nature. I do not know whether it is abso- 
lutely impossible that there should arise a man whose 
manner of thinking shall be so incomparably original 
and sublime, as to authorize him to throw the language 
into a new order, all his own ; but it is questionable 
whether there ever appeared such a writer, in any lan- 
guage which had been cultivated to its maturity. Even 
Milton, who might, if ever mortal might, be warranted 
to sport with all established authorities, and to seize at 
will every unsanctioned mode of expression into which 
uncontr'^ilable genius could stray, is, notwithstanding, 
for having presumed in a certain degree to create for 
himself a peculiar diction, censured by Johnson as having 
written in a ' Babylonish dialect.' And Johnson's own 
mighty force of mind has not saved his own peculiar 
Structure of language from being condemned by all men 
of taste. The magic of Burke's eloquence is not 
enough to preclude a perception of its being much less 
perfect than it might have been, had the same marvel- 
lous affluence of thought been expressed in a language 
of less arbitrary, capricious, and mannerish construc- 
tion. No more have the most distinguished evangeli- 
cal divines, who have adhered to the spiritual dialect, 
impressed on it either a dignity to overawe literary 
tas'e, or a grace to conciliate it. Nor does it, with 
me, derive any sanction from being not the language of 
an individual only, but of a numerous and pious class ; 
nor from its long established use ; nor yet from the pre- 
eminence of its subject, since I think that subject suf- 
'crs in its dignity of appearance by being presented in 
this vehicle. 



LETTER IV. 

Jinswer to the Plea, in behalf of the Dialect in Question, that 
it in formed from the Language of the Bible — Description 
of the Manner in which it informed — This Way of em- 
ploying biblical Language very different from si?nple Qvo- 
iation — Grace and Utilitij with which brief Forms of JVords. 
VihethtT Sentences or single Phrases, may he introduced 
from the Bible, if they are brought in as pure Pieces and Par- 
ticles of the Sacred Composition, set in our own Composi- 
tion as something di.Hinctfrom it and foreign to it — But the 
biblical Phraseology in the Theological Dialect, instead of 
thus appearing in distinct bright Points and. Gems, is modi- 
fied and mixed up throushout the whole Consistence of the 
Diction, so as at once to lone its own venerable Character, 
and to give a pervading Uncouthn ess without Dignity to 
the whole Compo.'iition — Let the Scripture Language be 
quoted often, but not degraded into a barbarous compound 
Phraseology — Even if it were ad.visahle to construct the 
Language of Thcolog/cal Instruction in some kind of Re- 
semblance to that of the Bible, it loould not follow that it 
should bt constructed in Imitation of the Phraseology of an 
antique Version — License to very old Theologians to re- 
tain in a great Degree this peculiar Dialect — Young ones 
_ recommended to learn to employ in Religion the Language 
in which cultivated Men talk and write on general Subjerts — 
The vast Mass of Writing in a com prehen. 'five literary 
Sense had, on the Subjects of Evangelical Theology . one 
great Cause of the Distcvite felt by 3'len of intellectual Re- 
finement — Several Kinds of this had Writing specijied—j 
Wish for another Caliph Omar. 

In defence of the diction which I have been describ- 
ing, it will be said, that it has grown out of the lan- 
guage of the Bible. To a great extent this is evident- 
ly true. Many phrases, indeed, which casually occur- 
red in the writings of divines, and many which were la- 
boriously invented by those who wished to give to di- 
vinity a complete, systematic arrangement, and there- 
fore wanted denominations or titles for the multitude 



of articles in the artificial distribution, have been natu. 
ralized into the theological dialect. But a large propor- 
tion of its phrases consists partly in such combinations 
of words as were taken originally from the Bible, and 
still more in such as have been made in an intentional 
resemblance of the characteristic language of that booL 

Before I make any farther remarks, I do not knovf 
whether it may be necessary, in order to prevent mis- 
apprehension, to advert to the high advantage and pro- 
priety of often introducing sentences from the Bible, — 
not only in theological, but in all grave, moral compo- 
sition. Passages of the inspired writings must ncces- 
•sarily be cited, in some instances, in proof of the truth 
of opinions, and may be most happily cited, in many 
others, to give a venerable and impressive air to seri- 
ous sentiments which would be admitted w-ithout a 
formal reference to authority. Both complete sen- 
tences, and striking, short expressions, consisting per- 
haps sometimes of only two or three words, may be 
thus introduced with an effect at once useful and orna- 
mental, while they appear pure and unmodified amidst 
the composition, as simple particles of scripture, quite 
distinct from the diction of the writer wno inserts 
them. When thus appearing m their own genuine 
quality, as lines or parts of lines taken from a venera- 
ble book which is written in a manner very different 
from our common mode of language, they continue to 
be of a piece with that book. They are read as ex- 
pressions, foreign to the surrounding composition, and, 
without an effort, referred to the work from which they 
are brought ; in the same manner as passages, or strik- 
ing, short expressions, adopted from some respected 
and well-known classic in our language. Whatever 
dignity characterizes the great work itself, is possessed 
also by these detached pieces in the various places 
where they are inserted. And if thev are judiciously in- 
serted, they impart their dignity to the sentiments 
which they are employed to enforce. This employ- 
ment of the sacred expressions may be very frequent, 
as the Bible contains such an immense variety of ideas, 
applicable to all manner of interesting subjects. And 
from its being so familiarly known, its sentences or 
shorter expressions may be introduced without the for- 
mality of noticing, either by words or any other mark, 
from what volume they are drawn. These observa- 
tions are more than enough to obviate any imputations 
of wanting a due sense of the dignity and force which 
may be imparted by a judicious introduction of the lan- 
guage of the Bible. 

It is a different mode of using biblical language, that 
constitutes so considerable a part of the dialect which 
I have ventured to disapprove. When insertions are 
made from the Bible in the manner here described as 
effective and ornamental, the composition comprises two 
kinds of diction, each bearing its own separate charac- 
ter ; the one being the diction which belongs to the 
author, the other that of the sacred book whence the 
citations are drawn. We pass along the course of his 
language with the ordinary feeling of being spoken to in 
a common, general phraseology ; and when we meet 
with the insertions of direct scripture expression, they 
are recognized in their own peculiar character, as some- 
thing foreign to the author's diction, and with the sense 
that we are reading just so much of the Bible itself. 
This distinct recognition of the two separate characters 
of language prevents any impression of an uncouth, 
heterogeneous consistence. But in the tl icological dia- 
lect, that part of the phraseology which has a biblical 
cast, is neither the one of these two kinds of language 
nor the other, but an inseparable mixture of both. For 
the expressions resembUng those of scripture are blend- 
ed and moulded into the very substance of the diction, 
I sa-- rcscmhlivg ; for though some of them are precisely 
phrases from the Bible, yet most of them are phrases a 
little modified from the form in which thoy occur in the 
sacred book, by changing or adding a word, bv giving 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



5^ 



An artificial turn to the beginning or the end, or by 
compoundincr two phrases into one. There are also, as 
I have already observed, many forms of expression cast 
in imitation of the biblical, by taking some one word al- 
most peculiar to the Bible, and connecting it with one, 
or with several, of the common words, in a very pecu- 
liar construction separately from which it is seldom in- 
troducedr In this manner the scriptural expressions, 
instead of appearing as shining points on a darker 
ground, as gems advantageously set in an inferior sub- 
stance, are reduced to become a constituent part of the 
dialect, in which they lose their genuine quality and 
their lustre. They are not brought, in each single in- 
stance, directly from the scriptures by the distinct se- 
lection of the person who uses them, but merely recur 
to him in the common usage of the diction, and gene- 
rally without a recollection of their sacred origin. They 
are habitually employed by the school of divines, and 
therefore are now, in no degree, of the nature of quota- 
tions introduced for their special appositeness in par- 
ticular instances, as the expressions of a venerable hu- 
man author would be repeated. 

This is the kind of biblical phraseology which I could 
wish to see less employed, — unless it is either more 
Tenerable or more lucid than that which I have recom- 
mended. We may be allowed to doubt how far such 
a cast of language can be venerable, after considering, 
that it gives not the smallest assurance of striking or 
elevated thought, since in fact a great quanvitv of most 
mferior writing has appeared in this kind of diction ; 
that it is not noin actually learnt from familiarity with 
the scriptures ; that the incessant repe'ition of its 
phrases in every kind of religious exercise and perform- 
ance wears out any solemnity it might ever have had ; 
and that it is the very usual concomitant of a too sys- 
teniatic and cramped manner of thinking. R may be 
considered also, that phrases of whatever quality or 
high origin, if thev do not stand separate in the compo- 
sition, but are made essentially of a piece with the dia- 
lect, take, in point of dignity, the qualitv of that dialect, 
so that if the whole of it is not dignified, the particular 
part is not : if the whole character of the peculiar lan- 
guage of divines is not adapted to excite veneration, 
that proportion of it which has been formed out of the 
scripture phraseology is not adapted to excite it. And 
again, let it be considered, that in almost all cases, an 
attempt to imitate the peculiarity of form in which a 
Tenerable object is presented, instead of being content 
to aim at a coincidence of general qualities, not only 
fails to excite veneration, but excites the contrary sen- 
tinient ; especially when all things in the form of the 
venerable model are homogeneous, while the imitation 
exhibits some features of resemblance incongruously 
combined with what is mainly and unavoidably of a dif- 
ferent cast. A grand, ancient edifice, of whatever or- 
der, or if it were of a construction peculiar to itself, 
would be an impressive object ; but a modern little one 
raised in its neighbourhood, in a style of building sub- 
stantially of the most vulgar kind, but with a number of 
antique windows and angles in imitation of the grand 
structure, would be a grotesque and ridiculous one. 

Scriptural phrases, then, can no longer make a so- 
lemn impression, when modified and vulgarized into the 
texture of a language which, taken altogether, is the 
reverse of every thing that can either attract or com- 
mand. Such idioins may indeed remind one of prophets 
and apostles, but it is a recollection which prompts to 
say, Who are these men that, instead of seriously in- 
troducing at intervals the direct words of those revered 
dictators of truth, seem to be mocking the sacred lan- 
g\iage by a barbarous, imitative diction of their own 1 
They may affect the forms of a divine solemnity, but 
there is no fire from heaven. Thev may show some- 
thing like a burning bush, but it is without an angel. 

As to perspicuity, it will not be made a question 
whether that is one of the recommendations of this cor- 



rupt modification of the biblical phraseology Without 
our leave, the mode of expression habitually associated 
with the general exercise of our intelligence, conveys 
ideas to us the most easily and the most clearly. And 
not unfrequently even in citmg the pure expres.sions of 
scripture, especially in doctrinal subjects, a religio.-\ H- 
structer will find it indispensable' to add a sentenc^ 
order to expose the sense in a more obvious manner. 

If it should be feared that the use of a language in 
which the biblical phrases are not in this manner blend- 
ed, might have a tendency to make the reader or heai 
er forget the Bible, or recollect it only as an antiquated 
book, it may surely be assumed, that devout men, in , 
illustrating religious subjects, will too often introduce 
the pure, unmodified expressions of that book to admit 
any danger of its being forgotten. And though these 
should occur muc^h seldomer in the course of their sen- 
tences than the half-scriptural phrases are repealed in 
that diction on which I have remarked, they would pro- 
bably remind us of the Bible in a more advantageous 
manner, than a dialect which has lost the dignity of a 
sacred language without acquiring the grace of a clas- 
sical one. I am sensible in how many points the illus- 
tration would not apply ; but it would partly answer my 
purpose to observe, that if it were wished to promote 
the study of some venerated human author, suppose 
Hooker, the way would not be to attempt incorporating 
a great number of his turns of expression into the es- 
sential structure of our own diction, which would gene- 
rally have a most uncouth effect, but to make respectful 
references, and often to insert in our composition sen- 
tences, and parts of sentences, distinctly as his. 

Let the oracles of inspiration be cited continually, 
both as authority and illustration, in a manner that shall 
make the mind instantly refer each expression that is 
introduced to the venerable hook from which they are 
taken ; but let our part of religious language be simply 
ours, and let those oracles retain their characteristic 
form of expression unimitated, unparodied, to the end 
of time.* 

* In the above remarks, I have not made any flistinciion be- 
tween the sacreil books in tlieir own language, and as iranslat- 
eil. It miirht not however be improper to notice, that though 
there is a great peculiarity of manner in the original scriptiu'es, 
yet a certain small proportion of the phraseolot-y which appears 
in the translated scriptures, does not belong to the essential 
structure of the original composition, but is to be ascribed to the 
state of the language at the time when the translation was made. 
A translation, therefore, maile novv, and conformed to the pres- 
ent mature stHte of the language, in the same derrree in which 
the earlier translation was conformed to the st ite of the language 
at that time, would make an alteration in some parti; of that 
phraseology which the theological dialect has attempted to in- 
corporate and imitate. If therefore it were the duty of divinea 
to take the biblical mode of expression for their model, it would 
still be quite a work of supererogation to take this model in a 
wider degree of difference from the ordinary language of serious 
thoushts than a.= it would appear in such a later version. This 
would be a homage, not to the real diction of the sacred scrip- 
tures, but to the earlier cast of our own language. At the same 
time it must be admitted, both that the change of expression, 
which a later version might, on merely philological principles, 
be justified by the progress and present standard of our language 
for making, would not be great ; and that every sentiment of 
prudence and devotional taste forbids to make quite so much al- 
teration as those principles might warrant. All who have long 
venerated the scriptures in their somewhat antique version, 
would protest against their being laboriously modernized into 
every nice conformity with the present standard of the language, 
and against any other than a very literal translation. If it could 
be supposed that our language had not yet attained a fixed state, 
but that it would progressively chanse for ages to come, it would 
be desirable that the translation of the Bible should always con- 
tinue, except in what might essentially affect the sense, a Cen- 
tury behind, for the sake of that venerable air which a degree 
of antiquity confers on the form of that which is in its substance 
so eminently sacred. But I cannot allow that the same law is 
to be extended to the language of divines. They have no right 
to assume the same groinid and the san^e distinctions as the Bi- 
ble ; they ought not to affect to keep it company. There is no 
solemn dignity in their writings, which can claim to be invested 
with a venerable peculiarity. Imitate the Bible or not, their 
composition is merely of the ordinary human quality, anii sub- 
ject to the same rules as that of their contemporaries who write 
on ether subjects. And if they remain behind the advanced stale 
of the classical diction, those contemporaries will not allow chem, ■ 



60 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



An advocate for the theological diction, who should 
not maintain its necessity or utility on the ground that 
a consideraiile proportion of it has grown out of the 
language of scripture, may think it has become neces- 
sary in consequence of so many people having been so 
long accustomed to it. I cannot but be aware that 
many respectable teachers of Christianity, both in speak- 
ing and writing, are so habituated to put their ideas in 
this cast of phraseology, that it would cost them a very 
great effort to make any material change. Nor could 
they acquire, if the change were attempted, a happy 
command of a more general language, without being 
intimately conversant with good writers on general sub- 
jects, and observant of their manner of composition. 
Unless, therefore, this study has been cultivated, or is 
intended to be cultivated, it will, perhaps, be better to 
adhere to the accustomed mode of expression with all 
disadvantages. Younger theological students, how- 
ever, are supposed to be introduced to those authors 
who have displayed the utmost extent and powers .of 
language in its freest form ; and it may not be amiss 
for them to be told that evangelical ideas would incur 
ro necessary corruption or profanation by I>eing con- 
voyed in so liberal and lucid a diction. With regard 
also to a considerable proportion of Christian readers 
and hearers, I am sensible that a reformed language 
would be excessively strana^e to them. But may I not 
allege, without any affectation of paradox, that its be- 
ing so strange to them would be a proof of the neces- 
sity of adopting it, at least in part, and by degrees 1 
For the manner in which some of them would receive 
this altered dialect, would prove that the customary 
phraseology had scarcely given them any clear ideas. 
It would be found, as I have observed before, that the 
peculiar phrases had been, not so much the vehicles of 
ideas, as the substitutes for them. These hearers and 
readers have been accustomed to chime to the sound 
without apprehending the sense ; insomuch that if they 
hear the very ideas which these phrases signify, or did 
signify, expressed ever so simply in other language, 
they do not recognise theni; tnd are instantly on the 
alert with the epithets, soand, orthodox, and all the 
vatch-words of ecclesiastical suspicion. For such 
Christians, the diction is the convenient asylum of ig- 
norance, indolence, and prejudice. 

But I liave enlarged far beyond my intention, which 
was only to represent, with a short illustration, that this 
peculiarity is unfavourable to a cordial reception of 
evangelical doctrines in minds of cult:^vated taste. 
This I know to be a fact from many observations in 
real life, especially among intellectual young persons, 
not altogether avei-se to serious subjects, nor inclined 
to listen to the cavils against the divine authority of 
Christianity itself. 

After dismissing the consideration of the peculiar 
diction of divines, I meant to have taken a somevvhat 
more general view of the accumulation of bad writing, 
under which the evangelical theologv has been buried ; 
and which has contributed to render its principles less 
welcome to persons of accomplished mental habits. \ 
large proportion of that writing may be called bad, on 
more accounts than merely the theological peculiarity 
of dialect. Bu^ it is an invidious topic, and I shall 
make only a few observations 

Evidences of an intellect superior in some degree to 
the common level, with a literary execution disciplined 
to great correctness, and partaking somewhat ol ele- 
gance, are requisite on the lowest terms of acceptance 
for good writing, with cultivated readers ; excepting 
indeed that one requisite alone in a pre-eminent degree, 
superlatively strong sense, will command attention and 
even admiration, in the absence of all the graces, and 
notwithstanding, much incorrectness in the workman- 
ship of the composition. Below this pitch of single or 

to e.vctise themselves by pretenJinp' to identify themselves wiili 
aie Bible. 



of combined quality, a book cannot, as a literary per- 
formance, please," though its subject be the most'iuter- 
esting on earth ; and for acceptableness, therefore, the 
subject is unfortunate in coming to those persons in 
that book. *A. disgusting cup will spoil the finest ele- 
ment which can be conveyed in it, though that were 
the nectar of immortality. 

Now, in this view, I suppose it will be acknowledged 
that the evangelical cause has not, on the whole, been 
happy in its prodigious list of authors. A number of 
them have displayed a high order of excellence ; but 
one regrets as to a much greater number, that they did 
not revere the dignity of their religion too mucn to be- 
set and suffocate it with their superfluous offerings. To 
you I do not need to expatiate on the characte'- of the 
collective Christian library. It will have been obvious 
to you that a great many books form the perfect vulgar 
of pious authorship ; an assemblage of the most sub- 
ordinate materials that can be called thought, in lan- 
guage too grovelling to be called style. Some of these 
writers seem to have concluded that the greatness 
of the subject was to do every thing, and that thev 
had but to pronounce, like David, the name of ' the 
Lord of Hosts,' to give pebbles the force of darts 
and spears. Others appear to have really wanted the 
perception of any great difference, in point of excel- 
lence, between the meaner and the nobler modes of 
writing. If thev had read alternately Barrow's pages 
and their own, they probably would have been hardlj 
sensible of the superiority of his. A number of them, 
citing, in a perverted sense, the language of St. Paul, 
'not with excellency of speech,' 'not with enticing 
words of man's wisdom,' ' "lot in the words which man's 
wisdom teacheth,' expressly disclaim every thing that 
belongs to fine writing, not exactly as what they could 
not have exhibited or attained, but as what they judge 
incompatible with the simplicity of evangelical truth and 
intentions. In the books of each of these classes you 
are mortified to see how low religious thought and ex- 
pression can sink ; and vou almost wonder how it was 
possible for the noblest ideas that are known to the sub- 
limest intelligences, the ideas of God, of providence, of 
redemption, of eternity, to come into a serious human 
mind without imparting some small occasional degree of 
dignity to the train of thought. The indulgent feelings, 
which you entertain for the intellectual and literary de- 
ficiency of humble Christians in their religious communi- 
cations in private, are with difficulty extended to those 
who make for their thoughts this demand on public at- 
tention ; it was necessary for them to be Christians, but 
what made it their duty to become authors 1 Many of the 
books are indeed successively ceasing, with the pro- 
gress of time, to be read or known ; but the new sup- 
ply continually brought forth is so numerous, that a 
person who turns his attention to religious reading is 
certain to meet a variety of them. Now only suppose 
a man who has been conversant and enchanted with 
the works of eloquence, refined taste, or strong rea- 
soning, to meet a number of these books in the outset ot 
his more serious inquiries ; in what light would the re- 
ligion of Christ appear to him, if he did not find some 
happier delineations of it 1 

There is another large class of Christian books, 
which bear the marks of learning, correctness, and a 
disciplined understanding ; and by a general propriety 
leave but little to be censured ; but which di,s])lay no 
invention, no prominence of thought, nor living vigour 
of expression : all is flat and dry as a plain of sand. 
It is perhaps the thousandth iteration of common- 
places, the listless attention to which is hardly an ac- 
tion of the mind : you seem to understand it all, and 
mechanically assent while you are thinking of some- 
thing else. Though the author has a rich, immeasura- 
ble field of possible varieties of reflection and illustra- 
tion around him, he seems doomed to tread over again 
the narrow space t)f ground long since trodden to 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



61 



dust, and in all his movements appears clothed in 
sheets of lead. 

There is a smaller class that might be called mock- 
eloquent writers. These saw the effect of brilliant 
expression in those works of eloquence and poetry 
where it was dictated and animated by energy of 
thought, and very reasonably wished that Christian 
sentiments might assume a language as impressive as 
any subject had ever employed to fascinate or com- 
mand. Bnt un''ortunately, they forgot that eloquence 
resides essentially in the thought, and that no words 
can make that eloquent, which will not be so in the 
plainest that could fully express the sense. Or, proba- 
bly, they were quite confident of the excellence of 
their thoughts. Perhaps they concluded them to be 
vigorous and sublime from the very circumstance that 
they refused to be expressed in plain language. The 
writers would be but little inclined to suspect of pover- 
ty or feebleness the thoughts which seemed so natur- 
ally to be assuming, in their minds and on their page, 
such a magnificent style. A gaudy verbosity is always 
eloquence in the opinion of him that writes it ; but 
what is the effect on the reader 1 Real eloquence 
strikes on your mind with irresistible force, and leaves 
you not the possibility of asking or thinking whether 
it be eloquence ; but the sounding sentences of these 
writers leave you cool enough to examine with 
doubtful curiosity a language that seems threatening to 
move or astonish you, without actually doing it. It is 
something like the case of a false alarm of thunder ; 
where a sober man, that is not apt to startle at sounds, 
looks out to see whether it be not the rumbling of a 
cart. Very much at your ease, you contrast the pomp 
of the cvpression with the quality of the thoughts ; and 
then read on for amusement, or cease to read from dis- 
gust. In a serious hour, indeed, the feeling of being 
amused. \s prevented by the regret, that it should be 
possible for an ill-j>idged style of writing to bring the 
most important subjects in danger of something worse 
than failing to interest. The unpleasing effect which 
it has on your own mind will lead to apprehend its hav- 
ing a very injurious one on many others. 

A principal device in the fabrication of this style, is, 
to multiply epithets, dry epithets, laid on the outside, 
and into which none of the vitality of the sentiment is 
found to circulate. You may take a great number of 
the words out of each page, and find that the sense 
is neither more nor less for your having cleared the 
composition of these epithets of chalk of various colours, 
with which the tame thoughts had submitted to be dap- 
pled and made fine. 

Under the denomination of mock-eloquence may also 
be placed the mode of vs/riting which endeavours to ex- 
cite the passions, not by presenting striking ideas of 
the object of passion, but by the appearance of an em- 
phatical enunciation of the writer's own feelings con- 
cerning it. You are not made to perceive how the 
thing itself has the most interesting claims on your 
heart ; hut you are required to be affected in mere 
sympathy with the author, v/ho attempts your feelings 
by frequent exclamations, and perhaps by an incessant 
application to his fellow-mortals, or to their Redeemer, 
of all the appellations and epithets of passion, and 
sometimes of a kind of passion not appropriate to the 
object. To this last great Object, especially, such 

"^ forms of expression are occasionally applied, as must 
revolt a man who feels that he cannot meet the same 
being at once on terms of adoration and of caressing 
equality. 

It would be going beyond my purpose, to carry my 
remarks from the literary merits, to the moral and the- 
ological characteristics, of Christian books ; else a very 
strange account coald be given of the injuries which 
the gospel has suffered from its friends. You might 

I often meet with a systematic writer, in v^hose hands 
the whole wealth, and variety, and magnificence of re- 



velation, shrink into a meagre list of doctrinal points, 
and who will let no verse in the Bible say a syllable till 
it has placed itself under one of them. You may meet 
with a Christian polemic, who seems to value the argu- 
ments for evangelical truth as an assassin values his 
dagger, and for the same reason ; with a descanter on 
the invisible world, who makes you think of a popish 
cathedral, and from the vulgarity of whose illuminations 
you are excessively glad to escape into the solemn twi- 
light of faith ; or with a grim zealot for a theory of the 
divine attributes, which seems to delight in represent- 
ing the Deity as a dreadful king of furies, whose domi- 
nion is overshaded with vengeance, whose music is the 
cries of victims, and whose glory requires to be illus- 
trated by the ruin of his creation. 

It is quite unnecessary to say, that the list of excel- 
lent Christian writers would be very considerable. 
But as to the vast mass of books that would, by the 
consenting adjudgment of all men of liberal cultivation, 
remain after this deduction, one cannot help deploring 
the effect which they must have had on unknown thou- 
sands of readers. It would seem beyond all question 
that books which, though even asserting the essential 
truths of Christianity, yet utterly preclude the full im- 
pression of its character ; which exhibit its claims on 
admiration and affection with insipid feebleness of sen- 
timent ; or which cramp its simple majesty into an ar- 
tificial form at once distorted and mean ; must be se- 
riously prejudicial to the influence of this sacred sub- 
ject, though it be admitted that many of them have 
sometimes imparted a measure of instruction and a 
measure of consolation. This they might do, and yet 
convey very contracted and inadequate ideas of the 
subject at the same time.* There are a great many 
of them into which an intelligent Christian cannot look 
without rejoicing that they were not the books from 
which he received his impressions of the glory of his 
relio-ion. There are many which nothing would induce 
him, even though he do not materially differ from them 
in the leading articles of his belief, to put into the 
hands of an inquiring young person ; which he would 
be sorry and ashamed to see on the table of an infidel ; 
and some of which he regrets to think may still contri- 
bute to keep down the standard of religious taste, if I 
may so express it, among the public instructers of man- 
kind. On the whole, it would appear, that a profound 
veneration for Christianity would induce the wish, that, 
after a judicious selection of books had been made, the 
Christians also had their Caliph Omar, and their Gene- 
ral Amrou. 



LETTER V. ' 

A grand Caune of the rlixplarenry encountered hy Evange- 
lical Religion among Men of Taste is, thai the great School 
171 vjhich that Taste is formed, that of Polite' Literature, 
taken in the widest Sense of the Phrase, is hostile to that 
Religimi — Modern Literature intended prinr^'nallt/ to he 
animadverted on — Brief Notice of the ancient — Heathen 
Theology. Metaphysics, and Morality — Harmlessness of 
the two former ; I)eceptivencss of the last — But the chief 
Influence is from, so much of the History as may be called 
Biography,' and from the Poetry — Homer — Manner in 
vMch the Interest he excites is hostile to the Spirit of the 
Christian Religion — Virgil. 

The causes which I have thus far considered, are as- 
sociated immediately with the object, and, by misre- 

*It is true ennuirh that on ereiy other subjeot. on which a 
multitude of books" have been written, there must have beea 
many which in a literary sense v;ere bail. But I cannot help 
thinking that the number coming under this description, bear a 
larger proportion to the excellent ones in the relig-ions depart- 
ment than in anv other. One chief cause of this has been, tho 
mistake by which many good men professionally employed in 
religion, have deemed their respectable mental competence to 
the office of public speakint', the proof of an equal competenco 
to a work, which is subjected to much severer literary and in- 
tellectual laws. 



62 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



presenting it, reiider it less acceptable to refined taste ; 
but there are other causes, which operate by pervert- 
ing the very principles of this taste itself, so as to make 
it dislike the religion of Christ, even though presented 
in its own full and genuine character, cleared of all 
these associations. I shall remark chiefly on one of 
these causes. 

1 fear It is incontrovertible, that far the greatest part 
of what is termed Polite Literature, by familiarity with 
which taste is refined, and the moral sentiments are in 
a great measure formed, is hostile to the religion of 
Christ ; partly, by introducing insensibly a certain or- 
der of opinions unconsonant, or at least not identical, 
with the principles of that religion ; and still more, by 
training the feelings to a habit alien from its spirit. And 
in this assertion, I do not refer to writers palpably irre- 
ligious, who have laboured and intended to seduce the 
passions into vice, or the judgment into the rejection of 
divine truth ; but to the general assemblage of those 
elegant and ingenious authors who are read and ad- 
mired by the Christian world, held essential to. a libe- 
ral education and to the progressive accomplishment of 
the mind in subsequent life, and studied often without 
an apprehension, or even a thought, of their injuring the 
views and temper of spirits advancing, with the New 
Testament for their chief instructer and guide, into an- 
other world. 

It is modern literature that I have more particularly 
in view ; at the same time, it is obvious that the 
writings of heathen antiquity have continued to ope- 
rate till now with their own proper influence, that is, a 
correctjy heathenish influence, in the very sight and 
presence of Christianity, on the minds of many who 
have admitted the truth of that religion. This is just 
as if an eloquent pagan priest had been allowed con- 
stantly to accompany our Lord in his ministry, and had 
divided with him the attention and interest of his disci- 
ples, counteracting, of course, as far as his efforts were 
successful, the doctrine and spirit of the Teacher from 
heaven.* 

The few observations which the subject may require 
to be made on ancient literature, will be directed chiefly 
to one part of it. For it will be allowed, that the 
purely speculative part of that literature has in a great 
measure ceased to interfere with the intellectual disci- 
pline of .-modern times. It obtains too little attention, 
and too little deference, to contribute much toward 
fixing the mind in those habits of thought and feeling 
which prevent the cordial admission of the doctrines 
and spirit of the gospel. Several learned and fanatical 
devotees to antiquity and paganism, have indeed made 
some effort to recall the long departed veneration for 
the dreams and subtleties of ancient philosophy. But 
they might, with perhaps a better prospect for success, 
recommend the building of temples or a pantheon, and 
the revival of all the institutions of idolatrous worship. 
The greater number of intelligent, and even learned 
men, would feel but little regret in consigning (if it 
co\ild be consigned,) the much larger proportion of that 
philosophy to oblivion ; except they may be supposed 

*Itis, however, no part of my object in these letters to re- 
mark on the induence, in modern times, of the fabulous tleitigs 
that inlbstetl the ancient works of genius. That influence is at 
the present lime, I should think, extremely small, from the fa- 
bles beife so stale : all readers are sufficiently tired of Jupiter, 
Ap«llo, IVEiuerva, and the rest. So long, however, as they could 
be of the smallest service, they were piously retained"by the 
Christian poets of this and other cnuniries, who are now under 
the necessity of seeking out for some other mythology, the 
northern or the eastern, to support the languishing spirit of po- 
etry Even the ugly pieces of wood, worshipped in the South 
Sea islands, will probably at last receive names that may moi'e 
commniliously hitrh into verse, and be invoked to adorn and 
sanctify the belles leltres of the ne.vt century. The poet has no 
reason to fear that the supply of gods may fail; it is, at the 
iamc time, a pity, one thinks, that a creature so immense should 
have been placed in a world so small as this, where all nature, 
all history, all morals, all true religion, and the whole resources 
of innocent fiction, are too little to furnish materials enough for 
the wants and labours 61 bis genius. 



to love it as heathenism more than they admire it aa 
wisdom ; or unless their pride would wish to retain it 
as a contrast to their own more rational theories. 

The ancient speculations on religion include, indeed 
some very noble ideas relating to a Supreme Being ; 
but these ideas do not produce, in an intelligent man, 
any degree of partiality for that immense system, or 
rather chaos, of fantastic folly by which they are en- 
vironed. He separates them from that chaos as some- 
thing not strictly belonging to heathenism, nor forming 
a part of it. He considers most of them as the tradi- 
tionary remains of divine communications to man in 
the earliest ages. A few of them were, perhaps, the 
utmost efforts of human intellect, at some happy mo- 
ments excelling itself. But whether they are referred 
to the one origin or the other, they stand so conspicu- 
ously above the general assemblage of the pagan specu- 
lations on the subject of the Deity, that they throw a 
solemn contempt on those speculations. They throw 
contempt on the greatest part of the theological doctrine 
of even the very philosophers that expressed them. 
They rather seem to direct our contemplation and af^ 
fection toward a religion divinely revealed, than to 
obtain any degree of favour for those notions of a God, 
which sprung and indefinitely multiplied from a melan- 
choly combination of ignorance and depraved imagina- 
tion. As to the apparent analogy between some of the 
notions of pagan religion, and one or two of the most, 
specific articles of Christianity, those notions are pre- 
sented in such fantastic, and varying, and often mon- 
strous, shapes, that the analogy is not close and con- 
stant enough to pervert our conception, or to preclude 
our admission of the defined propositions of the evan- 
gelic faith. 

The next part of the pure speculations of the an- 
cients, is, their metaphysics. And whatever may be 
the effect of metaphysical study in general, or of the 
particular systems of modern philosophers, with re- 
gard to the cordial and simple admission of Christian 
doctrines, the ancient metaphysics may certainly be 
pronounced harmless, from holding so little connexion 
with modern opinions. Later philosophers, by means 
of a far better method of inquiry, have opened quite a 
new order of metaphysical views ; and persons with 
but a very small share of the acuteness and ingenuity 
of those ancient framers of ideal systems, can now 
wonder at their being so fantastic. The only attrac- 
tion of abstract speculations is in their truth ; and 
therefore when the persuasion of their truth is gone, 
all their influence is extinct. That which could please 
the imagination or interest the affections, might in a 
ccnsiderable degree continue to please and interest 
them, though convicted of fallacy. But that which is 
too subtle to please the imagination, loses all its power 
when it is rejected by the judgment. And this is the 
predicament to which time has reduced the metaphy- 
sics of the old philosophers. The captivation of their 
systems seems almost as far withdrawn from us as the 
songs of their Syrens, or the enchantments of Medea. 

The didatic morality of the heathen philosophers 
comes much nearer to our interests, and has probably 
continued to have a considerable influence on the sen- 
timents of cultivated men. After being detained a 
great while among the phantoms and the monsters of 
mythology, or following through the mazes of ancient 
metaphysics that truth which occasionally appears for a 
moment, but still for ever retires before the pursuer, the 
student of antiquity is delighted to meet vvith a sage* 
who comes to him in a character of reality, with the 
warm, living eloquence of a doctrine which speaks to 
him in direct instruction concerning duty and happiness. 
And since it is necessarily the substantial object of 
this instruction to enforce goodness, he feels but little 
cause to guard against any perversion of his principles. 
He entirely forgets that goodness has been defined 
and enforced by another authority ; and that though 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



63 



its main substance, as matter of practice, must be 
much the same in the dictates of that authority, and in. 
the writings of Epictetus, or Cicero, or Antoninus, 
yet there is a material difference in some parts of the 
detail, and a most important one in the principles that 
constitute the basis. While he is admiring the beauty 
of virtue as displayed by one accomplished moralist, 
and its lofty independent spirit as exhibited by another, 
he is not inclined to suspect that any thing in their 
sentiments, or his animated participation of them, can 
be wrong. 

But the part of ancient literature which has had in- 
comparably the greatest influence on the character of 
cultivated minds, is that which has turned, if I may so 
express it, moral sentiments into real beings and inter- 
esting companions, by displaying the life and actions 
of eminent individuals. A few of the personages of 
fiction are also to be included. The captivating spirit 
of Greece and Rome resides in .the works of the bio- 
graphers ; in so much of the history as might properly 
be called biography, from its fixing the whole attention 
and interest 'on a few signal names; and in the works 
of the principal poets. 

No one, I suppose, will deny, that both the charac- 
ters and the sentiments, which are the favourites of the 
poet and the historian, become the favourites also-ef the 
admiring reader ; for this would be to deny the excel- 
lence of the poetry and eloquence. It is the high test 
and'proof of genius that a writer can render his subject 
interesting to his readers, not merely in a general way, 
hut in the very same vianner in which it interests him- 
self. If the great works of antiquity had not this power, 
they would long since have ceased to charm. We 
could not long tolerate what revolted, while it was de- 
signed to please, our moral feelings. But if their 
characters and. sentiments really do thus fascinate the 
heart, how far will this influence be coincident with the 
spirit and with the design of Christianity 1* 

Among the poets, I shall notice only the two or 
three pre-eminent ones of the Epic class. Homer, you 
know, is the favourite of the whole civilized world ; 
and it is many centuries since there needed one ad- 
ditional word of homage to the amazing genius display- 
ed in the Iliad. The object of inquiry is, what kind of 
predisposition will be formed toward Christianity in a 
young and animated spirit, that learns to glow with en- 
thusiasm at the scenes created by Homer, and to in- 
dulge an aident wish, viihich that enthusiasm will pro- 
bably awaken, for the possibility of emulating some of 
the principal characters. Let this susceptible youth, 
after having mingled and burned in imagination among 
heroes, whose valour and .anger flame like Vesuvius, 
who wade in blood, trample on dying foes, and hurl de- 
fiance against earth and heaven ; let him be led into the 
company of Jesus Christ and his disciples, as displayed 
by the evangelists, with whose narrative, I will suppose, 
he is but slightly acquainted before. What must he, 
what can he, do with his feelings in this transition ! 
He will find himself flung as far as ' from the centre of 
the utmost pole ;' and one of these two opposite exhi- 
bitions of character will inevitably excite his aversion. 
Which of them is that likely to be, if he is become tho- 
roughly possessed with the Homeric passions 1 

Or if, on the other hand, you will suppose a person 
have first become profoundly interested by the New 
Testament, and to have acquired the spirit of the Sa- 
viour of the vi/orld, while studying the evangelical his- 
tory ; with what sentiments will he come forth from 
conversing with heavenly mildness, weeping benevo- 
lence, sacred purity, and the eloquence of divine wis- 

* It may be noticed here, that a great part of what could be 
said on heathen literature as opposed to the relision of Christ, 
must necessarily refer to the peculiar moral spirit of that reli- 
gion. It would border on the ridiculous to represent the mar- 
tial enthusiasm of ancient historians and poets as counteracting 
the peculiar doctrines of the gospel, meaning by the term those 
dictates of truth that do not directly involve moral precents. 



dom, to enter into a scene of such actions and charac- 
ters, and to hear such maxims of merit and glory, as 
those of Homer ■? He would be still more confounded, 
by the transition, had it been possible for him to have 
entirely escaped that depravation of feeling which can 
think of crimes and miseries with but little emotion, and 
which we have all acquired from viewing the whole 
history of the world composed of scarcely any thing 
else. He would find the mightiest strain of poetry em- 
ployed to represent ferocious courage as the greatest of 
virtues, and those who do not possess it as v,-orthv of 
their fate, to be trodden in the dust. He will be taught, 
at least it will not be the fault of the poet if he is not 
taught, to forgive a heroic spirit for finding the sweetest 
luxury in insulting dying pangs, and imagining the tears 
and despair of distant relatives. He will be incessantly 
called upon to worship revenge, the real divinity of the 
Iliad, in comparison of which the Thunderer of Olym- 
pus is but a despicable pretender to power. He will be 
taught that the most glorious and enviable life is that, 
to which the greatest number of other lives are made a 
sacrifice ; and that it is noble in a hero to prefer even a 
short life attended by this felicity, to a long one which 
should permit a longer life also to others. The dire 
Achilles, a being whom, if he really existed, it had de- 
served a conspiracy of the tribes then called nations to 
chain or to suffocate, is rendered interesting even amidst 
the horrors of revenge and destruction, bv the intensity 
of his affection for his friend, by the melancholv with 
which he appears in the funeral scene of that friend, by 
one momentary instance of compassion, and by his so- 
lemn references to his own approaching death. A 
reader, who has even passed beyond the juvenile ardour 
of life, feels himself interested, in a manner that excites 
at intervals his own surprise, in the fate of this stern 
destroyer ; and he wonders, and he wishes to doubt, 
whether the moral that he is learning be, after all, ex- 
actly no other than that the grand(>st employment of a 
great spirit is the destruction of human creatures, so 
long as revenge, ambition, or even caprice, may choose 
to regard them under an artificial distinction, and call 
them enemies. But this, my dear friend, is the real 
and effective moral of the Iliad, after all that critics 
have so gravely written about lessons of tmion, or any 
other subordinate moral instructions, which they disco- 
ver or imagine in the work. Who but critics ever 
thought or cared about these instructions'! Whatever 
is the chief and grand impression made by the whole 
work on the ardent minds which are most susceptible 
of the influence of poetry, that is the real moral ; and 
Alexander, and, by reflection from him, Charles XII. 
correctly received the genuine inspiration. 

If it be said that such works .stand on the same 
ground, except as to the reality or accuracy of the facts, 
with an eloquent history, which simply exhibits the ac- 
tions and characters, I deny the assertion. The actions 
and characters are presented in a manner which prevents 
their just impression, and empowers them to make an 
opposite one. A transforming magic of genius displays 
a number of atrocious savages in a hideous slaughter- 
house bf men, as demigods in a temple of glory. No 
doubt an eloquent history might be so written as to give 
the same aspect to such men, and such operations ; but 
that history would deserve to be committed to the 
flames. A history that should present a perfect display 
of human miseries and slaughter, would incite no one, 
that had not attained the last possibility of depravation, 
to imitate the principal actors. It would give the same 
feeling as the sight of a field of dead and dying men 
after a battle is over ; a sight at which the soul would 
shudder, and earnestly wish that this might be the last 
time the sun should behold such a spectacle : but the 
tendency of the Homeric poetry, and of a great part of 
epic poetry in general, is to insinuate the glory of re- 
peating such a tragedy. I therefore ask again, how it 
would be possible for a man, whose mind was fust 



64 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



completely assimilated to the spirit of Jesus Christ, to 
read such a work without a most vivid antipathy to 
what he perceived to be the moral spirit of the poet 1 
And if it were not too strange a supposition, that the 
most characteristic parts of the Iliad had been read in 
the presence and hearing of our Lord, and by a person 
animated by a fervid sympathy with the work — do you 
not instantly imagine Him expressing the most emphatical 
condemnation ! Would not the reader have been made 
to know, that in the spirit of that book he could never 
become a disciple and a friend of the Messiah 1 But 
then, if he believed this declaration, and were serious 
enough to care about being the disciple and friend of 
the Messiah, would he not have deemed himself ex- 
tremely unfortunate to have been seduced, through the 
pleasures of taste and imagination, into habits of feeling 
which rendered it impossible, till they could be de- 
stroyed, for him to receive the only true religion, and 
the only Redeemer of the world! To show Jioui im- 
possible it would be, I wish I may be pardoned for 
making another strange and indeed a most monstrous 
supposition, namely, that Achilles, Diomede, Ulysses, 
and Ajax, had been real persons, living in the time of 
our Lord, and had become his disciples and yet (ex- 
cepting the mere exchange of the notions of mythology 
for Christian opinions,) had retained entire the state of 
mind with which their poet has exhibited them. It is 
instantly perceived that Satan, Beelzebub, and Moloch, 
might as consistently have been retained in heaven. 
But here the question comes to a point : if these great 
examples of glorious character, pretending to coalesce 
with the transcendant Sovereign of virtues, would have 
been probably the most enormous incongruity existing, 
or that ever had existed, in the whole universe, what 
harmony can there be between a man who has acquired 
a considerable degree of congeniality with the spirit of 
these heroes, and that paramount Teacher and Pattern 
of excellence 1 And vvho will assure me that the en- 
thusiast for heroic poetry does not acquire a degree of 
this congeniality? But unless I can be so assured, I 
necessarily persist in asserting the noxiousness of such 
poetry. 

Yet the work of Homer is, notwithstanding, the 
bonk which Christian poets have translated, which 
Christian divines have edited and commented on with 
oride, at which Christian ladies have been delighted to 
see their sons kindle into rapture, and which forms an 
essential part of the course of a liberal education, oyer 
all those countries on which the gospel shines. And 
who can tell hov,f much that passion for war which, 
from the universality of its prevalence, might seem in- 
separable from the nature of man, may, in the civilized 
world, have been reinforced by the enthusiastic admira- 
tion with which young men have read Homer, and simi- 
lar poets, Vv'hose genius transforms what is, and ought 
always to appear, purely horrid, into an aspect of 
grandeur'! 

Should it be asked. And what ought to be the prac- 
tical consequence of such observations'! I may surely 
answer that I cannot justly be required to assign that 
consequence. I cannot be required to do more than 
exhibit in a simple light an important point of truth. If 
such works do really impart their own genuine spirit to 
the m.ind of an admiring reader, in proportion to the de- 
gree in which he admires, and if this spirit is totally 
hostile to that of Christianity, and ?/ Christianity ought 
really and in good faith to be the supreme regent of all 
moral feeling, then it is evident that the Iliad, and all 
the books which combine the same tendency with great 
poetical excellence, are among the most mischievous 
things on earth. There is bur little satisfaction, cer- 
tainly, in illustrating the operation of evils without pro- 
posing any adequate method of contending with them. 
But, in the present case, T really do not see what a se- 
rious observer of the character of mankind can offer. 
To \Aish that the works of Homer, and some other 



great authors of antiquity, should cease to be read, is 
just as vain as to wish they had never been written. 
As to the far greater number of readers, it were equally 
in vain to wish that pure Christian sentiments might 
be sufficiently recollected, and loved, to accompany 
the study, and constantly prevent the injurious impres- 
sion of the works of pagan genius. The few max- 
ims of Christianity to which the student may have as- 
sented without thought and for which he has but lit- 
tle veneration, will but feebly oppose the influence ; 
the spirit of Homer will vanquish as irresistibly as his 
Achilles vanquished. It is also most perfectly true, 
that so long as pride, ambition, and vindictivcness hold 
so mighty a prevalence in the character and in the na 
ture of our species, they would still amply displav them- 
selves, though the stimulus of heroic poetry were 
withdrawn by the annihilation of all those works which 
have invested the worst passions, and the worst actions 
with a glare of grandeur. With or without classical 
ideas, men and nations will continue to commit offen- 
ces against one another, and to avenge them ; to as- 
sume an arrogant precedence, and account it noble 
spirit ; to celebrate their deeds of destruction and call 
them glory ; to idolize the men who possess, and can 
infuse, the greatesf share of an infernal lire ; to set at 
nought all principles of virtue and religion in favour of 
a thoughtless, vicious mortal who consigns himself in 
the same achievement to fame and perdition ; to vaunt 
in triumphal entries, or funeral pomps, or strings of 
scalps, how far human skill and valour can excel the 
powers of famine and pestilence : men and nations will 
continue thus to act, till some new dispensation of 
Heaven shall establish the reign of Christianity. In 
that better season, perhaps the great works of ancient 
genius will be read with such a state of mind as can 
receive the intellectual improvement derivable from 
them, and at the same time as little coincide or be in- 
fected with their moral spirit, as in the present age we 
venerate their mythological vanities. 

In the mean time, one cannot believe that any man 
who seriously reflects how absolutely the religion of 
Christ claims a conformity of hfs whole nature, will 
without regret fee! himself animated, even for a mo- 
ment, with a class of sentiments of which the habitual 
prevalence would be the total preclusion of Christian- 
ity. And it seems to show how little this religion is 
really understood, or even considered, in any of the 
countries denominated Christian, that so many who pro- 
fess to adopt it never once thought of guarding their 
own minds, and those of their children, against the elo- 
quent seductions of a spirit which is mortally op])Osite. 
Probably they would be more intelligent and vigilant, 
if any other interest than that of the professed religion 
were endangered. But a thing which injures them only 
in that concern, is sure to meet with all possible in- 
dulgence. : 

With respect to religious parents and preceptors, 
W'hose children and pupils are to receive that liberal edu- 
cation which must inevitably include the study of 
these great works, it will be for them to accompany 
the youthful readers throughout, with an effort to show 
them, in the most pointed manner, the inconsistency _ | 
of many of the sentiments, both with moral rectitude '•j 
in general, and with the special dictates of Christianity. 
And in order to give the requisite force to these dic- 
tates, it v/ill b^ an important duty to illustrate to 
them the amiable tendency, and to prove the awful au- 
thority, of this dispensation of religion. This careful 
effort will often but very partially prevent the mischief; 
but it seems to be all that can be done. ^9 

Virtril's work is a kind of lunar reflection of the ar- 
dent effulgence of Homer ; surrounded, if I may extend 
the ficrure, with as beautiful a halo of elegance and 
tenderness as perhaps the world ever saw. So much 
more refined an order of sentiment mnght have rendered 
the heroic character far niorc attractive to a mind that 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



65 



<»n melt as well as burn, if there had actually been a 
hero in the poem. But none of the personages intend- 
ed for heroes excite the reader's enthusiasm enough to 
assimilate the tone of his feelings. No fiction or his- 
tory of human characters and actions will ever power- 
fully transfuse its spirit, without some one or some 
very few individuals of signal peculiarity or greatness, to 
concentrate and embody the whole energy of the work. 
There would be no danger, therefore, of any one's be- 
coming an idolater of the god of war through the inspi- 
ration of the vEneid, even if a larger proportion of it 
had been devoted to martial enterprise. Perhaps the 
chief counteraction to Christian sentiments which I 
should apprehend to an opening, susceptible mind, would 
be a depravation of its ideas concerning the other 
world, from the picturesque scenery which Virgil has 
opened to his hero in the regions of the dead, and the 
solemn and interesting images with which he has 
sshaded the avenue to them. Perhaps, also, the affect- 
ing sentiments which precede the death of Dido might 
t-end to lessen, especially in a pensive mind, the horror 
of that impie y which would throw back with violence 
the possession of hfe into the hands of Him who 
gave it. 



LETTER VI 

Uucan — Ivfluence of the moral SuUimity of his Heroes — Plu- 
tarch — The HiHoriana — Antichrislian Effect of admiring 
the moral Greatness of the eminent Heathens — Points of 
essential Difference bHween Excellence according to Chris- 
tian Principles, and the most elevated Excellence of the 
Heathens — An unqualijied Complacency in the latter pro- 
duces an alienation of Affection and Admiration from the 
former. 

Allien I add the name of Lucan, I must confess that 
notwithstanding the offence to taste from a style too 
ostentatious and inflated, none of the ancient authors 
v/ould have so much power to seduce my feelings, in 
respect to moral greatness, into a temper not coinci- 
dent with Christianity. His leading characters are 
widely different from those of Homer, and of a greatly 
superior order. The mighty genius of Homer appeared 
and departed in a rude age of the human mind, a stran- 
ger to the intellectual enlargement which would have 
enabled him to combine in his heroes the dignity of 
thought, instead of mere physical force, with the energy 
of passion. For want of this, thoy are great heroes 
without being great men. They appear to you only as 
tremendous fighting and destroying animals ; a kind of 
human Mammoths. The rude efforts of personal con- 
flict are all they can understand and admire, and in their 
warfare their minds never reach to any of the sublimer 
results even of war ; their chief and final object seems 
to be the mere savage glory of fighting, and the anni- 
hilation of their enemies. When the heroes of Lucan, 
both the depraved and the nobler class, are employed 
in war, it seems but a small part of what they can do, 
' and what they intend ; they havp always something 
farther and greater in view than to evince their valour, 
or to riot in the vengeance of victory. Even the ambi- 
tion of Pompey and Cssar seems almost to become a 
grand passion, v.'hen compared to the contracted as well 
as detestable aim of Homer's chiefs ; while this passion 
too is confined to narrow and vulgar designs, in compa- 
rison with the views which actuated Cato and Brutus. — 
The contempt of death, which in the heroes of the Iliad 
often seems like an incapacity or an oblivion of thought, is 
in Lucan's favourite characters the result, or at. least the 
associate, of profound reflection ; and this strongly con- 
trasts their courage with that of Homer's warriors, which 
is, (according indeed to his own frequent similes.) the 
daring of wild beasts. Lucan sublimates martial into 
moral grandeur. Even if you could deduct from his great 



men all that which forms the specific martial display of 
the hero, you would find their greatness little diminish 
ed ; they would be commanding and interesting men 
still. The better class of them, amidst war itself, hate 
and deplore the spirit and ferocious exploits of war. 
They are indignant at the vices of mankind for com- 
pelling their virtue into a career in which such sangui- 
nary glories can be acquired. And while they deem it ^ 
their duty to exeri their courage in a just cause, they 
regard camps and battles as vulgar things, from which 
their thoughts often turn away into a train of solemn 
contemplations in which they approach sometimes the 
empyreal region of sublimity. You have a more ab- 
solute impression of grandeur from a speech of Cato, 
than from all the mighty exploits that epic poetry ever 
blazoned. The eloquence of Lucan's moral heroes 
does not consist in images of triumphs and conquests, 
but in reflections on virtue, suffering, destiny and death ; 
and the sentiments expressed in his own name have 
often -a melancholy tinge which renders them irresisti- 
bly interesting. He might seem to have felt a presage, 
while musing on the last of the Romans, that their poet 
was soon to follow them. The reader becomes devoted 
both to the poet and to these illustrious men ; but, un- 
der the influence of this attachment, he adopts all their 
sentiments, and exults in the sympathy ; forgetting, or 
unwilling to reflect, whether this state of feeling is con- 
cordant with the religion of Christ, and with the spirit 
of the apostles and martyrs. The most seducing of 
Lucan's sentiments, to a mind enamoured of pensive 
sublimity, are those concerning death. I remember 
the very principle which I would wish to inculcate, that 
is, the necessity that a believer of the gospel should 
preserve the Christian tenour of feeling predominant in 
his mind, and clear of incongruous mixture, having (, 
struck me with great force amidst the enthusiasm with 
which I read many times over the memorable account 
of Vulteius, the speech by which he inspired his gal- 
lant band with a passion for death, and the reflections 
on death with which the poet closes the episode. I 
said to myself, with a sensation of conscience, ' W^hat 
are these sentiments with which I am burning 1 Are 
these the just ideas of death 1 Are they such as were 
taught by the Divine Author of our religion 1 Is this 
the spirit with which St Paul approached hi-s last hour 1 
And I felt a painful collision between this reflection and 
the passion inspired by the poet. I perceived with the 
clearest certainty that the kind of interest which I felt 
was no less than a real adoption, for the time, of the 
very same sentiments by v/hich he was animated. 

Tke epic poetry has been selected for the more 
pointed application of my remarks, from the conviction - 
that it has had a much greater influence on the moral 
sentiments of succeeding ages than all the other poetry 
of antiquity, by means of its impressive display of hi- 
dividual great characters. And it will be admitted that 
the moral spirit of the epic poets, taken together, is as 
little in opposition to the Christian theory . of moral 
sentiments as that of the collective poetry of other 
kinds. The just and elevated sentiments to be found 
in the Greek tragedies, tend to lead to the same habits 
of thought as the best of the pagan didactic moralists. 
And these sentiments infuse themselves more intimate- 
ly into our minds when thus coming warm in the course 
of passion and action, and speaking to us with the em- 
phasis imparted by affecting and dreadful events ; but 
still are not so forcibly impressed as by the insulated 
magnificence of such striking and sublime individua. 
characters as those of epic poetry. The mind of the 
reader does not retain for months and years an ani- 
mated recollection of some personage whose name in- 
cessantly recalls the sentiments which he uttered, or - 
which his conduct made us feel. Still, however, the 
moral spirit of the Greek tragedies acts with a consi- 
derable force on a susceptible mind ; and if there should 
be but half as great a difference between the quality of 



66 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



the instructions which they will insinuate, and the prin- 
ciples of evangelical morality, as there was between 
Vhe religious knowledge and moral spirit of the men 
themselves who wrote and contended for their own fame 
in Greece, and the divine illumination and noble cha- 
racter of those apostles that opened a commission from 
heaven to transform the world, the student may have 
some cause to be careful lest his Athenian morality 
should disincline hhn to the doctrines of a better school. 
I shall not dwell long on the biography and history, 
shice it will be allowed that their influence is very 
nearly coincident with that of the epic poetry. The 
work of Plutarch, the chief of the biographers, (a work 
so necessary, it would seem, to the consolations of a 
Christian, that I have read of some author who did not 
profess to disbelieve the New Testament, declaring 
that if he were to be cast on a desert island, and could 
have one book, and but one, it should be this,) the work 
of Plutarch delineates a greatness partly of the same 
character as that celebrated by Homer, and partly of 
the more dignified and intellectual kind which is so 
commanding in the great men of Lucan, several of 
whom, indeed, are the subjects also of the biographer. 
Various distinctions might, no doubt, be remarked in 
the impression made by great characters as illustrated 
in poetry, and as exposed in the plainness of historical 
record : but I am persuaded that the habits of feeling 
■which will grow from admiring the one or the other, 
will be substantially the same as to a cordial reception 
of the religion of Christ. 

A number of the men exhibited by the biographers 
and hisiorians, 'rose so eminently above the general 
character of the human race, that their names have be- 
come inseparably associated with our ideas of moral 
greatness. A thoughtful student of antiquity enters 
this majestic company with an impression of mystical 
awfulness, resembling that of Ezekiel in his vision. In 
this select and revered assembly we include only those 
who were distinguished by elevated virtue, as well as 
powerful talents and memorable actions. Undoubtedly 
the magnificent powers and energy without moral ex- 
cellence, so often displayed on the field of ancient his- 
tory, compel a kind of prostration of the soul in' the 
presence of men, whose surpassing achievements seem 
to silence fora while, and but for a while, the sense of jus- 
tice which must execrate their ambition and their crimes; 
but where greatness of mind seems but secondary to 
greatness of virtue, as in the examples of Phocion, Epa- 
ininondas, Aristides, Timoleon, Dion, and a considerable 
number more, the heart applauds itself for feehng an ir- 
resistible captivation. This number indeed is small, com- 
pared with the whole galaxy of renowned names ; but 
it is large enough to fill the mind, and to give as vene- 
.lable an impression of pagan greatness, as if none of 
its examples had been the heroes whose fierce brilliance 
.'lightens through the blackness of their depravity ; or 
the legislators, orators, and philosophers, whose wis- 
-dom was degraded by hypocrisy, venality, or vanity. 

A most impressive part of the inflnence of ancient 
character on modern feelings, is derived from the ac- 
counts of two or three of the greatest philosophers, 
whose virtue, protesting and solitary in the times in 
which they lived, whose intense devotedness to the 
pursuit of wisdom, and whose occasional sublime 
glimpses of thought, darting beyond the sphere of er- 
ror in which they were enclosed and benighted, pre- 
sent them to the mind with something like the venera- 
bleness of the prophets of God. Among the exhibi- 
tions of this kind, it is unnecessary to say that Xeno- 
phon's Memoir of Socrates stands unrivalled and above 
comparison. 

Sanguine spirits without number have probably been 
influenced in modern times by the ancient history of 
mere heroes ; but persons of a reflective disposition 
have been incomparubly more affected by the contem- 
plation of those men whose combination of mental 



power with illustrious virtue constitutes the supremo 
glory of heathen antiquity. And why do I deem th« 
admiration of this noble display of moral excellenca 
pernicious to these reflective minds, in relation to the 
religion of Christ 1 For the simplest possible reason ; 
because the principles of that excellence are not iden- 
tical with the principles of this religion; as I beheie 
every serious and self-observant man, who has been 
attentive to them both, will have verified in his own 
experience. He has felt the animation which jrervaded 
his soul, in musing on the virtues, the sentiments, and 
the great actions of these dignified men, suddenly ex- 
piring, when he has attempted to prolong or transfer it 
to the virtues, sentiments, and actions of the apostles 
of Jesus Christ. Sometimes he has, with mixed won- 
der and indignation, remonstrated with his own feelings, 
and has said, I know there is the highest excellence in 
the religion of the Messiah, and in the characters of his 
most magnanimous followers ; and surely it is excel- 
lence also that attracts me to those other illustrious 
men ; why then cannot I take a full delightful interest 
in them both 1 But it is in vain ; he finds this am- 
phibious devotion impossible. And he will always 
find it so ; for, antecedently to experience, it would be 
obvious that the order of sentiments which was the life 
and soul of the one form of excellence, is extremely dis- 
tinct from that which is the animating spirit of the other. 
If the whole system of a Christian's sentiments is re- 
quired to be adjusted to the economy of redemption, 
they must be widely different from those of the men, 
however wise or virtuous who never thought or heard 
of the Saviour of the world ; else where is the peculi- 
arity or importance of this new dispensation, which 
does, however, both avow and manifest a most signal 
peculiarity, and with which Heaven has connected the 
signs and declarations of its being of infinite importance t 
If, again, a Christian's grand object and sohcitude is to 
please God, this must constitute his moral e.xcellence, 
(even though the facts were the same,) of a verv differ- 
ent nature from that of the men who had not in firm 
faith any god that they cared to please, and whose 
highest glory it might possibly become, that they boldly 
differed from their deities ; as Lucan undoubtedly in- 
tended it as the most emphatical applause of Cato, that 
he was the inflexible patron and hero of the cause which 
was the aversion of the gods.* If humility is required 
to be a chief characteristic in a Christian's mind, he is 
here again placed in a state of contrariety to that love 
of glory which accompanied, and was applauded as a vir- 
tue while it accompanied, almost all the moral o-reat- 
ness of the heathens. If a Christian lives for eternity, 
and advances towards death with the certain expectation 
of judgment, and of a new and awful world, how different 
must be the essential quality of his serious sentiments, as 
partly created, and totally pervaded, by this mighty antici- 
pation, from the order of feeling of the virtuous heathens, 
who had no positive or sublime expectations beyond 
death ! The interior essences, if I may so speak, of the 
two kinds of excellence, sustained or produced by these 
two systems of thought, are so different, that they will 
hardly be more convertible or compatible in the same 
mind than even excellence and turpitude. Now it appears 
to me that the enthusiasm, with which a mind of deep 
and thoughtful sensibility dwells on the history of sages, 
virtuous legislators, and the noblest class of hero( s, of 
heathen antiquity, will be found to beguile that mind 
into an order of sentiments congenial with theirs, and 
therefore thus seriously different from the spirit and prin- 
ciples of Christianity.! It is not exactly that the judg- 
* Victrix causa DiM plncuit, sed victa Catoni. 
fir it should be siiiil that, in admiring pagan excellence, th» 
mind takes the mere facts of that excellence, separately from 
the principles, and as far as they are identical with the facts of 
Christian excellence, and then, connecting Christian principles 
with them, converts the whole into a Christian character btfora 
it cordially admires, I appeal to experience while I assert thai 
this is not' true. If it were, the mind would be able to turn with 
full complacei;cy from an afffctiaaaLs admiration of an illusJrS 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



6T 



ment admits distinct pagan propositions, but the heart in- 
sensibly acquires an unison with many of the sentiments 
which imply those propositions, and are wrong, unless 
those propositions are right. It forgets that a different 
state of feeling, corresponding to a greatly different 
scheme of propositions, is appointed by the Sovereign 
Judffe of all things as (with relation to us) an indispen- 
sable^ preparation for entering the eternal paradise;* 
and that now, no moral distinctions, however splendid, 
are excellence in his sight, if not conformed to this 
standard. It slides into a persuasion that, under any 
economy, to be exactly like one of those heathen ex- 
amples would be a competent qualification for any world 
to which good spirits are to be assigned. The devoted 
admirer contemplates them as the most enviable speci- 
mens of his nature, and almost wishes he could have 
been one of them ; without reflecting that this would 
have been under the condition probably, among many 
other circumstances, of adoring Jupiter, Bacchus or 
jEsculapius, and of despising even the deities that he 
adored ; and under the condition of being a stranger to 
the son of God, and to all that he has disclosed and 
accomplished for the felicity of our race. It would 
even throw an ungracious chill on his ardour, if an 
evangelical monitor should whisper, ' Recollect Jesus 
Christ,' and express his regret that these illustrious 
men could not have been privileged to be elevated into 
Christians. If precisely the word 'elevated' were 
used, the admonished person might have a feeling, at 
the instant, as if it were not the right word. But this 
etate of mind is no less than a serious hostility to the 
gospel, which these feelings are practi-ally pronouncing 
to- be at least unnecessary ; and therefore that noblest 
part of ancient literature which tends to produce it, is 
inexpressibly injurious. It had been happy for many 
cultivated and aspiring minds, if the men whose cha-* 
racrers form the moral magnificence of the classical 
history, had been such atrocious villains, that their 
names could not have been recollected without execra- 
tion. Nothing can- be more disastrous than to be led 
astray by eminent virtue aniJ intelligence, which can 
give a sense of grandeur, or of an alliance with grandeur^ 
in the deviation. 

It will require a very affecting impression of the Chris- 
tian truth, a very stronsly marked idea of the Christian 
character, and a habit of thinking with sympathetic ad- 
miration of the most elevated class of Christians, to 
preserve entire the evangelical spirit among the exam- 
ples of what might pardonably have been deemed the 
most exalted style of man, if a revelation had not been 
received from heaven. Some views of this excellence 
■ it were in vain for a Christian to forbid himself to ad- 
mire ; but he must learn to admire under a serious re- 
striction, else every emotion is a desertion of his cause. 
He must learn to assign these men in thought to an- 
other sphere, and to regard them as beings under a dif- 
ferent economy with which our relations are dissolved ; 
as marvellous specimens of a certain im|)erfect kind of 
moral greatness, formed on a model foreign to true re- 
ligion, which model is crumbled to dust and given to 
the winds. At the same time, he may well deplore, 
while viewing some of these men, that, if so much ex- 
cellence could be formed on such a model, the sacred 
system on which his own character professes to be 
formed should not have raised him almost to heaven. 
So much for the effect of the most interesting part of 
ancient literature. 

In the next letter I shall make some observations, in 
reference to the same object on modem polite litera- 
ture. Many of these must unavoidably be very ana- 

qvs heathen, to admire, in the very same train of feelin?, and 
with still warmer emotion, the excellence of St Paul ; which is 
not the fact. 

* I hope none of these observations will be understood to in- 
Binuate the impossibility of the future happiness of virtuous 
heathens. But a disquisition on the subject would here be out 
»{ place. 



logons to those already made ; since the greatest num- 
ber of the modem fine writers acquired much of the 
character of their minds from those of the ancient 
world. Probably, indeed, the ancients have exerted a 
much more extensive influence in modern times by 
means of the modern writers to whom they have com- 
municated their moral spirit, than immediately by theif 
own works. 



LETTER VII. 

When a Communication, declaring- the true Theory ofioth 
Religion and Morals, was admitted as coming from Heav- 
en, it was reasonable to expect that, from the Time of this 
Revelation to the End of the World, all by whom it was so 
admitted would he religiously careful to maintain, in what- 
ever they taught on Subjects within its cognizance, a syste- 
matic and punctiMious Conformity to its Principles jlb, 

surdity. Impiety, and pernicious Effect, of disregarding 
this sovereign Claim to Conformity — The greatest Number 
of ourjine Writers have incune.d this Guilt, and done this 
Mischief— They are Antichristian. in the first Place, by 
Omix.^irm; they exclude from their moral sentiments the 
modifi/ing interference of the Chrixtinn Principles — Ex- 
tended lUusftralinn of this Fact, and o the Consequences. 

To a man who had long observed the influences 
which tyrannize over human passions and opinions, it 
would not, perhaps, have appeared strange, that when 
the Grand Renovator came on earth, and during the 
succeeding ages, a number of the men whose superior 
talents were to carry on the course of literature, and 
guide the progress of the human mind, should reject 
his religion. These I have placed out of the question, 
as it is not my object to show the injuries which Chris- 
tianity has received from its avowed enemies. But it 
might have been expected, that all the intelligent men, 
from that hour to the end of time, who should really 
admit this religion, vi'ould perceive the sovereicnty, and 
universality of its claims, and feci that every thing un- 
consonant with it ought instantly to vanish from the 
whole system of approved sentiments and the whole 
school of literature, and to keep as clearly aloof as the 
Israelites from the boundaries that guarded Mount Si- 
nai. It might have been presumed, that all principles 
which the new dispensation rendered obsolete, or de- 
clared or implied to be wrong, should no more be re- 
garded as belonging to the system of principles to be 
henceforward received and taught, than dead bodies in 
their graves belong to the race of living men. To re- ■ 
tain or recall them would, therefore, be as offensive to 
the judgment, as to take up these bodies and place them 
in the paths of men, would be offensive to the senses ; 
and as absurd as the practice of the ancient Egyptians, 
who carried their embalmed ancestors to their festivals. 
It might have been supposed, that whatever Christiani- 
ty had actually substituted, abolished, or supplied, would 
therefore be practically regarded by these believers of 
it as .substituted, abolished or supplied ; and that they 
would, in all their writings, be at least as careful of 
their fidelity in this great article, as a man who adopts 
the Newtonian philosophy woidd be certain to exclude 
' from his scientific discourse all ideas that seriously im- 
plied the Ptolemaic or Tychonic system to be true. 
Necessarily, a number of these literary believers would 
write on subjects so completely foreign to what comes 
within the cognizance of Christianity, that a pure neu- 
trality, which should avoid all interference with it, would 
be all that could be claimed from them in its behalf ; 
though, at the same time, one should feel some degree 
of regret, to see a man of enlarged mind exhausting 
his ability and his life on these foreign subjects, with- 
out devoting some short interval to the service of that 
which he believes to be of far surpassing moment.* 

* I could not help feelins a desree of this re?ret in readinir 
lately the menioirs of the admirable and estimable Sir Williaia 



68 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



But the great number who choose to write on sub- 
jects that come within the relations of the Christian 
system, as on the various views of morals, the distinc- 
tions and judgments of human character, and the theory 
of happiness, with almost unavoidable references some- 
times to our connexion with Deity, to death, and to a 
future state, ought to have written every page under the 
recollection, that these subjects are not left free for 
careless or arbitrary sentiment, since the time that 
' God has spoken to us by his Son ;' and that the no- 
blest composition would be only so much eloquent im- 
piety, if discordant with the dictates of the New Testa- 
ment. Had this been a habitual recollection amidst the 
studies of the fine writers of the Christian world, an in- 
genuous mind might have read alternatelv theii; works 
and those of the evangelists and apostles, without being 
confounded by a perception of antipathy between the 
inspirations of genius and the inspirations of heaven. 

I confine my view chiefly to the elegant literature of 
our own country. And it may be presumed, indepen- 
dently of any actual comparison, that this (the literature 
of directly vicious and infidel tendency being put out of 
view on both sides,) is much less exceptionable than 
the belles lettres of the other parts of modern Europe ; 
for this plain reason,' that the extended prevalence of 
the happy light of the Reformation, through almost the 
whole period that has produced our works of genius and 
taste, must necessarily, by presenting the religion of 
^Christ in an aspect more true to its genuine dignity, 
have compelled from the intellectual men who could not 
reject its truth, a respect which the same class of men 
in popish countries would be but little inchned to feel ; 
or which would generally be, if they did feel it, but the 
homao'e of superstition, which injured the sacred cause 
another way. 

I do not assign any class of writers formally theolo- 
I gical to the polite literature of a country, not even the 
J distinguished sermon-writers of France ; as it is prob- 
able that works of direct thcolosy have formed but a 
small part of that school of thinking and taste, in which 
the generality of cultivated men have acquired the mo- 
ral conformation of their minds. That school is com- 
posed of poets, moral philosophers, historians, essay- 
ists, and you may add the writers of fiction. If the 
great majority of these authors have injured, and still 
injure their pupils in the most important of all their 
interests, it is a very serious consideration, both in re- 
spect to the accountablencss of the authors, and the 
final effect on their pupils. I maintain that they are 
guilty of this injury. 

On so wide a field, my dear friend, it would he in 
vain to attempt making particular references and selec- 
tions to verify all these remarks. I must appeal for 
their tnith to your own acquaintance with our popular 
fine writers. 

In the first place, and as a general observ'ation, the 
alleged injury has been done, to a great extent, by 
Omission, or rather it should be called Exclusion. 
And here I do not refer so much to that unworthy care, 
which seems prevalent through the works of our inge- 
nious authors, to avoid formally treating on any topics 
of a precisely evangelical kind, as the absence of that 
Jones. Pome of his researches in Apia have incidentally served, 
in a very importnnt manner, the cause of religion ; but did he 
think the last possible direct service had been rendered to Chris- 
tianity, that his accomplished mind was left at Ipisure for hymns 
to the Hindoo pods .' Was not this even a violation of the neu- 
trality, and an offence, not only aeainst the gospel, but against 
theism itself.' I know what may be said about personification, 
license of poetry, and so on ; but shonld not a worshipper of 
God hold himself under a solemn obligation to abjure all tole- 
rance of even poetical figures that can seriously seem, in any 
■way whatever, to recognise the pagan divinities, or abomina- 
tions, as the prophels of Jehovah would have called them.' 
What would Elijah have said to such an employment of talents 
in his time.' It would have availed little to have told him that 
these divinities were only personifications (with their appropri- 
ate representative idols) of objects in nature, of elements, or of 
abstractions. He would have sternly replied, And was not Baal, 
whose prophets I destroyed, the same .' 



Christian tinge and modification, (indicated partly by 
the occasional expression of Christian recollectiona, 
and partly by a solicitous, though it were a tacit, con- 
formity to every principle of the Christian theory,) 
which should be diffused universally through the senti- 
ments that regard man as a moral being. Consider 
how small a portion of tlfe serious subjects of thought 
can be detached from all connexion with the religion of 
Christ, without narrowing the scope to which he meant 
it to extend, and repelling its intervention where he in- 
tended it to intervene. The book which unfolds it, has 
exaggerated its comprehensiveness, and the first distin- 
guished Christian had a delusive view of it, if it does 
not actually claim to mingle its principles with the 
whole system of moral ideas, so as to impart to them 
a specific character : in the same manner as the ele- 
ment of fire, interfused through the various forms and 
combinations of other elements, produces throughout 
them, even when latent, a certain important modifica- 
tion, which they would instantly lose, and therefore lose 
their perfect condition, by its exclusion. 

And this claim to extensive interference, made, as 
a matter of authority, for the Christian principles, ap- 
pears to be supported by their nature. For they are 
not of a nature which necessarily restricts them to a 
peculiar department, like the principles which consti- 
tute some of the sciences. We should at once per- 
ceive the absurdity of a man who should be attempting 
to adjust all his ideas on general subjects according to 
the principles of geometry, and who should maintain (if 
any man could do so preposterous a thing,) that geome- 
trical laws ought to enter into the essence of our rea- 
soning on politics and morals. This I own is taking 
an illustration in the extreme ; since geometrical and 
moral truth are not only very different, but of a nature 
essentially distinct. Let any other class of principles 
foreign to moral gubjects be selected, in order to its 
being shown how absurd is the effect of an attempt to 
stretch them beyond their proper sphere, and force 
them into some conne.xion with ideas with which they 
have no relation. Let it be shown how such princi- 
ples can in no degree modify the subject to which they 
are attempted to be applied, nor mingle with the rea- 
sons concerning it, but refuse to touch it, like magnet- 
ism aj)plied to brass. I would then show that, on the 
contrary, the Christian principles have something in 
their nature which has a relation with something in the 
nature of almost all serious subjects. Their being ex- 
tended to those subjects, therefore, is not an arbitrary 
and forced application of them ; it is merely permitting 
their cognizance and interfusion in whatever is essen- 
tially of a common nature with them. It must be evi- 
dent in a moment that the most general doctrines of 
Christianity, such as those of a future judgment, and 
immortality, if believed to be true, have a direct rela- 
tion with every thing that can be comprehended within 
the widest range of moral speculation and sentiment. 
It will also be found that the more particular doctrines, 
such as those of the moral depravity of our nature, an 
atonement made by the sacrifice of Christ, the interfer- 
ence of a special divme influence in renewing the human 
mind, and educating it for a future state, together with 
all the inferences, conditions, and motives resulting from 
them, cannot be admitted and religiously regarded, 
without combining themselves, in numberless instances, 
with a man's ideas on moral subjects. I mean, that it 
is in their very nature thus to interfere and find out a 
relation with these ideas, even if there were no divine 
requirement that they should. That writer must, 
therefore, have retired beyond the limits of an immense 
field of important and most interesting speculations, 
must indeed have retired beyond the limits of all the 
speculation most important to man, who can say that 
nothing in the religion of Christ bears, in any manner, 
or any part of his subject any more than if he were & 
philosopher of Satan. 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS, 



69 



And; in thus habitually interfering and combining with 
mcral sentiments and speculations, the Christian prin- 
ciples will greatly modify them. The evangelical ideas 
will stand in conne:^on with the moral ones, not simply 
^ as additional ideas in the train of thinking, but as ideas 
which impart or dictate a particular character to the 
rest. A writer whose mind is so possessed with the 
Christian principles that they thus continually suggest 
diemselves in connexion with his serious speculations, 
will unavoidably present a moral subject in a some- 
what different aspect, even if he make no express re- 
ferences to the gospel, from that in which it would be 
presented by another writer, whose habits of thought 
were clear of evangelical recollections. And in every 
ta-ain of thinking in which the serious recognition of 
those principles would produce this modification, it 
ought to be produced ; so that the very last idea within 
the compass of speculation which would have a differ- 
ent cast as a ray of the gospel falls, or does not fall, 
upon It, should be faithfully exhibited in that light. 
The Christian principles cannot be true, without de- 
termining what shall be true in the mode of represent- 
ing all those subjects with which they hold a connexion. 
Obviously, as far as the gospel can go, and does by its 
relations with things thus claim to go, with a modifying 
power, it cannot be a matter of indifference whether it 
do go or not ; for nothing on which its application 
would have this effect, would be equally right as so 
modified and as not so modified. That which is made 
precisely correct by this qualified condition, riiust, 
therefore, separately from it, be incorrect. He who has 
sent a revelation to declare the theory of sacred truth, 
and to order the relations of all moral sentiment with 
that truth, cannot give his sanction at once to this final 
constitution, and to that which disowns it. He, there- 
fore, disowns that which disowns the religion of Christ. 
And what he disowns he condemns ; thus placing all 
moral sentiments in the same predicament, with regard 
to the Christian economy, in which Jesus Christ placed 
his contemporaries, ' He that is not with me is against 
me.' The order of ideas thus dissentient from the 
Christian system, presumes the existence, or attempts 
the creation, of some other economy. 

Now, in casting a recoUective glance over our ele- 
gant literature, the far greater part, as far as I am ac- 
quainted with it, appears to me to fall under this con- 
demnation. After a comparatively small number of 
names and books are excepted, what are called the Bri- 
tish Classics, with the additiorvof very many works of 
great hterary merit that have not quite attained that 
rank, present an immense vacancy of christianized sen- 
timent. The authors do not exhibit the signs of having 
ever deeply studied Christianity, or of retaining any 
discriminative and serious impression of it. Whatever 
has strongly occupied a man's attention, affected his 
feelings, and filled his mind with ideas, will even unin- 
tentionally show itself in the train and cast of dis- 
course : these writers do not in this manner betray that 
their faculties have been occupied and interested by the 
special views unfolded in the evangelic dispensation. 
Of their being solemnly conversant with these views, 
you discover no notices analogous, for instance, to those 
■which appear in the writing or discourse of a man, who 
has lately passed some time amidst the wonders of 
Rome or Egypt, and who shows you, by almost uncon- 
scious allusions and images occurring in his language 
even on other subjects, how profoundly he has been in- 
terested in comtemplating triumphal arches, temples, 
pyramids, and tombs. Their minds are not naturalized, 
if I may so speak, to the images and scenery of the 
kingdom of Christ, or to that kind of light which the 
gospel throws on all objects. They are somewhat like 
the inhabitants of those towns within the vast salt 
mines of Poland, who, beholding every object in their 
region by the light of lamps and candles only, have in 
tfeeir eonversation no expressions describmg things in 



such aspects as never appear but under the lights of 
heaven. You might observe, the next time that you 
open one of these works, how far you may read, wuhout 
meeting with an idea of such a nature, or so expressed, 
as could not have been, unless Jesus Christ had come 
into the world ;* even though the subject be one of 
those which he came to illuminate, and to enforce on 
the mind by new and most cogent arguments. And 
where so little of the light and rectifying influence of 
these communications has been admitted into the habits 
of thought, there will be very few cordially reverential 
and animated references to the great Instructer him- 
self These will perhaps not oftener occur than a tra- 
veller in some parts of Africa, or Arabia, comes to a 
spot of green vegetation in the desert. You might 
have read a considerable number of volumes, without 
becoming apprised that there is such a dispensation in 
existence, or that such a sublime minister of it had 
ever appeared among men. And vou might have dili- 
gently read, for several years, and through several hun- 
dred volumes, without at all discovering its nature or 
importance, or that the writers, when alluding to it, 
admitted any peculiar and essential importance to be- 
long to it. You would only have conjectured it to be 
a scheme of opinions and discij)line which had appeared 
in its day, as many others had appeared, and left us, as 
the rest have left us, to follow our speculations very 
much m our own way, taking from them, indifferently, 
any notions that we may approve. 

You would have supposed that these writers had 
heard of one Jesus Christ, as they had heard of one 
Confucius, as a teacher whose instructions are admitted 
to contain many excellent things, and to whose system 
a liberal mind will occasionally advert, well pleased to 
see China, Greece, and Judea, as well as England, 
producing their philosophers, of various degrees and 
modes of illumination, for the honourof their respective 
countries and periods, and for the concurrent promotion 
of human intelligence. All the information which they 
would have supplied to your understanding, and all the 
conjectures to which they would have prompted your 
inquisitiveness, would have left you, if not instructed 
from other sources, to meet the real religion itself, when 
at length disclosed to you, as a thing of which vou had 
but slight recognition, except by its name as a wonder- 
ful novelty. How little you would have expected, 
from then: literary and ethical criimpses, to find the 
case to be, that the system, so insignificantly and care- 
lessly acknowledged in the course of their fine senti- 
ments, is the actual and sole economy by the provisions 
of which their happiness can be secured, by the laws of 
which they will be judged, which has declared the re- 
lations of man with his Creator, and specified the ex- 
clusive ground of acceptance ; which is therefore of 
infinite consequence to you, and to them, and to all 
their readers, as fixing the entire theory of the condition 
and destinies of man on the final principles to which all 
theories and sentiments are solemnly required to be 
' brought into obedience.' 

Now, if the writers who have thus preserved the 
whole world of interesting ideas which they have un- 
folded free from any evangelical intermixture, are really 
the chief instructers of persons of taste, and form, from 
early life, their habits of feeling and thought, it is easy 
to see that they must produce a state of mind very 
uncongenial with the gospel. Views habitually present- 
ed to the mind, during its most susceptible periods, and 
through the main course of its improvements, in every 
varied light of sublimity and beauty, with every fasci- 
nation of that taste, ingenuity, and eloquence, which it 
has learnt still more to admire each year as its faculties 
have expanded, will have become the settled order of its 
ideas. And it will feel the same complacency in this 

* Excel t, perhaps, in resject to humanity ami benevolence, 
on which subject his insiruriions have improved the semimenta 
even of iiifidels, in spite of the rejection of their divine authority 



70 



FOSTER'S ESSAYS. 



intellectual order, that as inhabitants of the material 
world, we do in the great arrangement of nature, in the 
green, blooming earth, and the magnificent hemisphere 
of heaven. 



LETTER VIII. 

More Specific forms of their contrariety to the Principles of 
Revelation — Their Good Man is not a Chrixiian — Con- 
trasted with St Paul — Their Theory of Happiness essen. 
tially different from the Evangelical — Short Statement 
of both — In moralizing on Life, tl:ey do not habitually 
consider, and they prevent their Readersfrom considering, the 
present State as introductory to another — Their Consola- 
tions for Distress, Old Age, and Death, widely different 
on the whole, from those which constitute so much of the 
Value of the Gospel — The Grandeur and Heroism in 
Death, which they have represmted with irresistible Elo- 
quence, emphatically and perniciously opposite to the 
Christian Doctrine and examples of Sublimity and Hap- 
piness in Death — Examples from Tragedy. 

It will be proper to specify, somewhat more distinct- 
ly, several of the particulars in which I consider the 
generality of our fine writers as disowning or contradic- 
tino- the evangelical dispensation, and, therefore beguil- 
ing their readers into a complacency in an order of sen- 
timents that is unconsonant with it. 

And one thing extremely obvious to remark, is, that 
the good man, the man of virtue, who is of necessity 
constantly presented to view in the volumes of these 
■writers, is not a Christian. His character could have 
been formed, though the Christian revelation had never 
been opened on the earth, or though all the copies of 
the New Testament had perished ages since ; and it 
might have appeared admirable, but not peculiar. It 
has no such complexion and aspect as would have ap- 
peared foreign and unacountable in the absence of the 
Christ