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enabled to taste the beauties of the original, will possibly find more pleasure in their own reflections on the Letters of the amiable Pliny, than from the Commentary of our Author; and for others less acquainted with the learned languages, they will be at no lofs to exercise the fame sagacity, from reading the elegant Translation of them by Melmoth.
At the end of the third Volume are two other performances, which are printed with this work, because they are in some measure connected with it. The first is a Translation of the Treatise on the Gods and the World, by Sallust the Philosopher, published in the year 1748, and now accompanied with a Commentary of the same kind with that on Pliny. The second is a Treatise on the Sources of Morality, by another hand; a production which, the Editor says, will be esteemed by the judicious who prefer gold to tinsel : and which tends to prove, that the Duties of Religion are clearly pointed out to us by Nature.
The second passage which Mr. Formey has selected from his Author's Text, begins thus : Ef enim plane aliquid edendum. This seems to be the Professor's Motto, and to have given birth to the work before us. Indeed it seems to be that of a very numerous class of Writers, as well Foreign as British; all of whom agree in translating it very significantly, On our honour and appetite, we must eat.
De la Nature : Or,
A Philosophical Essay on the System of Nature.
Amsterdam. Imported by Becket and Dehondt.
HIS Work is divided into four Parts, the first of which
is designed to prove the necessary Equality of Good and Evil in Nature; the second, relates to the uniform Generation of Beings; the third, to moral Instinct; and the last contains a natural History of the Soul. In what manner the Author has conducted this work, and what the Reader is to expect from it, we are told in the Preface. « If we consider (says he) the errors which prevail among mankind, it appears that the Philosopher ought rather to distrust the most common than the most singular of his opinions. This (adds he) gives me confidence with respect to fome peculiar ideas which appear in this work : not that I pretend to advance any thing new, The world is too old to be instructed, and I came into it too
late to attempt it. I have endeavoured rather to make use of the reflections of others; to apply to my manner of thinking those which I thought conformable to it, without believing others inferior which should contradi&t it. It would indeed be singular if I had read with attention the best Writers without drawing some advantage from them. To deny the obligations I owe them would be unjuft. I own them with pleafure; nor think I can acknowlege them better, than by purfuing their enquiries. It has been affirmed by many that all is Good; by others, that all is Evil. Some have insisted that the former is exceeded by the latter, whilft many as warmly contend that the reverse is true. As for myfelf I have seen throughout the whole, that they balance each other; and, upon reflection, I find this equality to be absolutely necessary.
“ To account for the Origin of Evil has been the endeavour of Philosophers in every age. Struck with the calamities to which manķind are subject, and filled with ideas of a Deity, whofe attributes excluded every poffibility of his delighting in the misery of his creatures; some have asked, with Plato, Whether it could be supposed, that what is evil, and irregular, can be the work of God, the fource of every virtue ? If he had found in the earth a tendency to regularity and order, he would, without all doubt, have made it the seat of happiness. To reconcile their ideas of Evil with their notion of the Deity, therefore, they supposed that, in this fublunary, world, the matter out of which its various objects were produced, was too stubborn to receive a fixed and permanent state, and that all which Infinite Wisdom could effect, under such circumstances, was to produce the state in which we now find the world, subject to a numerous train of irregularities and misfortunes. This was a natural consequence of their opinion relative to the Nature of Body, which receiving every moment some new form and appearance, they thought incapable of ftability or uniformity.
“ From this system, at length, arose that of Manes, or of two principles ; which, foon prevailing, so strongly influenced mankind, that their prayers and religious ceremonies were evidently tinctured with it. If there be but one principle, faid they, and that one be essentially good, from what source are the miseries and the vices of mankind derived !- If Glory were the design of this being, what share of it could fpring from a sense of disorder and confusion ? If the Love of Mankind, it may be asked, why then are they the slaves of paffion, or the victims of anxiety and distress?" Froñi hence, they
concluded, that there must neceffarily be two Principles, one disposed to bless mankind with every felicity, another inclined to dispense the most terrible calamities and distress.
« However generally this opinion was once received, the Greeks and Romans do not appear to have entertained such notions. They had recourse to other hypotheses to explain the Origin of Evil. By some it was supposed that the Souls of men had pre-existed in another state, and that their Sufferings here arose from their conduct in such a state of Preexistence. Upon this principle they expressly forbad any pity to be Thewn for miseries, which they believed were inflicted only on those who deserved to fuffer. This opinion is attributed by Plato to Orpheus ; and the Pythagoreans, as well as the Eucratitæ fince the Christian æra, avoided Marriage that they might not be the cause of Misery to human Souls. < *"In the system of Epicurus, the Gods were supposed indifferent to the affairs of this world, which were esteemed either as beneath their notice and regard, or as inconsistent with a state of existence from which every care was excluded. The arguments in favour of this opinion were drawn from the fame topics, which are now employed to prove a future state. *Can the Gods (said they) be concerned with human affairs and suffer the virtuous to become miserable, and the abandoned to enjoy in luxury the fruits of rapine and fraud ? Would suffering virtue be so common a spectacle amongst men? Again, many have conceived every event as fixed by destiny, which nothing could change; and have, in consequence, condemned every murmur and complaint. This variety of opinions is a sufficient proof of the difficulty which attends the discussion of this question ; but, were we to descend from the hypotheses of the ancients through the numerous modern systems to the work before us, its difficulty would be still more apparent. Amongst those who have advanced the melancholy opinion, that even with those who enjoy the happiest lot of humanity the moment of anxiety is superior to that of pleasure, is the celebrated Maupertuis.' A late Writer has taken the other side of the question, and in answer to the ingenious Frenchman, has asserted the superiority of pleasure. It is neither our business or design, however, to enter into their arguments : we shall only consider the opinion of the Author before us, who, equaliy distant from these extremes, aflerts a perfect and necessary equality of Good and Evil. Rev. Feb. 1762.
“ Inequality " Inequality of Rank (says he) does not arife from an im "crcase of Good in the exalted, or additional Evil in the lower, Itations of life. That is not possible in the nature of things. The latter are inferior in every thing. If we observe their increase, we shall find it proceeds in a regular and exaềt increased proportion of Good and Evil; that in proportion as they become more elevated, they take an equal fhare of happiness and anxiety; and that," by the invariable order of things, there is, in fact, 'no one condition more eligible than another, however distant 'they may be from each other.
b " Born to an humble lot, and scarcely fupplied with common necessaries, the man of inferior station is little folicitous for the superfluities of life; his faculties, by an education fuitable to his condition, are reduced to such as become itą his pafsions are few, and consequently his pains and pleasures also; while he is alike incapable of relishing the amusements, or feeling the anxieties of "grandeur. It would perhaps be a misfortune to fociety, if the populace were more instructed. Their own and the public felicity depends, in a great degree, on the continuing in their native ignorance. With more dignity of sentiment, they would too easily perceive their abject state; they would lose their tafte for the rude pleasures with which they were once contented, and scorn the servile labours to which they are destined.
“ The husbandman frequently poffeffes, those talents only which are neceflary for the cultivation of the earth, and efteers himself happy if the harvest answers his hopes. He toils indeed throughout the day, and knows not the refinements of drefs and food. This is true, but judge of his fatigue by his robust constitution, not by the delicacy of your own; from his accustomed-labour, not from your own averfion to every thing attended with difficulty. His frugal repast is always delicious to him; your fudied luxuries are often naiseated, and delicacies only prove difguftful. He has not, however, our amusements, our balls, our entertainments, and our vanities. . True, but you mistake if you think hihi deftitute of amusements. He poslefies thble suited to bis ftate, and the degree of pleasure he is capable of receiving from them. Our anxiety is a stranger to his humble roof, and vice avoids the place in which it could not be concealed. When tranquil Neep has restored the powers which the work of the preceding day had exhausted, he rises in the morning with chearfulness, repeats his honest labours, and returns in the evening to a family, he always sees with pleasure. The 'holydays, the
rustic dance, and music amuse him, and the village fair exerts her art to charm him with her neat attire. Have then the happy tenants of the field, you will say, no pains and anxieties? Alas, if you think so, you are mistaken. Oppressed by the proprietors of the lands they cultivate, they are treated with rigour; they groan beneath a load of taxes, and are taught hat nature has established an equality in every situation.”
After this, is it not a little surprising to find our Author, in the fame Chapter, so far forget himself as to fay, “ If there be an enemy whom you hate, with him the most voluptuous enjoyment, fupreme grandeur, immense riches, and unbounded authority, and you will find him sink under the excess of his mifery? By loading him with senfual delights, you rob him of the sweets of love, the delicate sentiments of united hearts.” Nay, he proceeds farther, and endeavours to prove, that this enemy would be rendered the most unhappy of mankind.
This is very inconsistent with an hypothesis that maintains the 'necessary and inevitable equality of Good and Evil in every station of life.
Naturam expellas furcâ tamen ufque recurret. In other places again, he endeavours to fhew, that those circumstances which we consider with so much dread, are always balanced by an equal degree of advantage. He has a Chapter, in which he assigns some reasons why Volubility of Tongue was bestowed so liberally on the fair fex :- and in the next proceeds to prove, that it involves a contradiction to fuppose the absence of Evil in finite beings; attempting farther to evince the impossibility that the Good and Evil in Nature should be otherwise than perfectly equal.
In the second part, he treats of Generation, and labours to thew, that in the Vegetable, Foflil, and Mineral Kingdoms, as well as in the Planetary System, something analogous to the Generation of Animals prevails. Plants have, for some time, been generally allowed to poffefs their male and female parts. The Generation of Foffils and Minerals has been allo believed by some, but our Author has extended it even to the Stars and Planetary Worlds. We are inclined indeed to think this hypothesis will find but few advocates. Yet, since it is the usual fate of human enquiries to exhaust error, before they arrive at truth, we look with great indulgence on every attempt to strike put new paths of Science; and, though