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habitant must go through the different stages of hunter, shepherd, and husbandman : then when property becomes valuable, and consequently gives cause for injustice ; then when laws are appointed to repress injury, and secure possession ; when men, by the sanction of those laws, become possessed of superfluity; when luxury is thus introduced and demands its continual supply, then it is that the sciences become necessary and useful; the state then cannot subsist without them ; they must then be introduced, at once to teach men to draw the greatest possible quantity of pleasure from circumscribed possession ; and to restrain them within the bounds of moderate enjoy
The sciences are not the cause of luxury, but its consequence, and this destroyer thus brings with it an antidote which resists the virulence of its own poison. By asserting that luxury introduces the sciences, we assert a truth ; but if with those, who reject the utility of learning, we assert that the sciences also introduce luxury, we shall be at once false, absurd, and ridiculous.
But instead of continuing the subject myself, take the following instructions borrowed from a modern philosopher of China *. “ He who has begun his for“ tune by study will certainly confirm it by perseve« rance. The love of books damps the passion for « pleasure, and when this passion is once extinguishs6 ed, life is then cheaply supported; thus a man be“ ing possessed of more than he wants, can never be “ subject to great disappointments, and avoids all " those meannesses which indigence sometimes una« voidably produces.
« There is unspeakable pleasure attending the life « of a voluntary student. The first time I read an “ excellent book, it is to me just as if I had gained a
new friend. When I read over a book I have pe" rused before, it resembles the meeting with an old
We ought to lay hold of every incident in “ life for improvement, the trifling as well as the im“ portant. It is not one diamond alone which gives 6 lustre to another, a common coarse stone is also em“ ployed for that purpose. Thus I ought to draw ad
vantage from the insults and contempt I meet with 66 from a worthless fellow. His brutality ought to in* duce me to self-examination, and correct every ble“ mish that may have given rise to his calumny.
“ Yet with all the pleasures and profits which are “ generally produced by learning, parents often find “ it difficult to induce their children to study. They “ often seem dragged to what wears the appearance 5 of application. Thus being dilatory in the begin** ning, all future hopes of eminence are entirely cut
If they find themselves obliged to write two “ lines more polite than ordinary, their pencil then 6 seems as heavy as a mill-stone, and they spend ten
years in turning two or three periods with propri
“ These persons are most at a loss when a banquet s is almost over ; the plate and the dice go round, 16 that the number of little verses which each is obliged “ to repeat may be determined by chance. The boo" by, when it comes to his turn, appears quite stupid " and insensible. The company divert themselves " with his confusion; and sneers, winks, and whispers 66 are circulated at his expense. As for him, he “ opens a pair of large heavy eyes, stares at all about “ him, and even offers to join in the laugh, without “ ever considering hirnself as the burthen of all their “ good humour.
“ But it is of no importance to read much, except you be regular in reading. If it be interrupted for any considerable time, it can never be attained with
proper improvement. There are some who study 6 for one day with intense application, and repose “ themselves for ten days after. But wisdom is a " coquet, and must be courted with unabating assidu
* men with the strongest passion ; how much more " therefore ought the youth of either sex to dread " them, whose reason is so weak, and whose hearts " are so susceptible of passion !
“ To slip in by a back-door, or leap a wall, are ac" complishments that when handsomely set off en“ chant a young heart. It is true the plot is com“ monly wound up by a marriage, concluded with " the consent of parents, and adjusted by every cere
mony prescribed by law. But as in the body of the “ work there are many passages that offend good “ morals, overthrow laudable custom, violate the laws, “ and destroy the duties most essential to society, “ virtue is thereby exposed to the most dangerous at
“ But, say some, the authors of these romances “ have nothing in view, but to represent vice punish" ed, and virtue rewarded. Granted: but will the “ greater number of readers take notice of these pu- v “ nishments and rewards ? Are not their minds carrised to something else ? Can it be imagined that the “ heart with which the author inspires the love of vir
tue, can overcome that crowd of thoughts which
sway them to licentiousness? To be able to incul. “ cate virtue by so leaky a vehicle, the author must “ be a philosopher of the first rank.
But in our age we can find but few first-rate philosophers.
“ Avoid such performances where vice assumes “ the face of virtue ; seek wisdom and knowledge “ without ever thinking you have found them. A man " is wise, while he continues in the pursuit of wisdom; " but when he once fancies that he has found the ob“ject of his inquiry, he then becomes a fool. Learn “ to pursue virtue from the man that is blind, who “ never makes a step without first examining the " ground with his staff,
“ The world is like a vast sea; mankind like a “ vessel sailing on its tempestuous bosom. Our pru56 dence is its sails, the sciences serve us for oars, “ good or bad fortune are the favourable or contrary 56 winds, and judgment is the rudder; without this “ last the vessel is tossed by every billow, and will “ find shipwreck in every breeze. In a word, ob“ scurity and indigence are the parents of vigilance « and economy ; vigilance and economy of riches 6 and honour; riches and honour of pride and luxu
ry; pride and luxury of impurity and idleness; " and impurity and idleness again produce indigence 66 and obscurity. Such are the revolutions of life.”