Let us extend a courageous indulgence towards those unfortunate beings, who are victims of long continued errors. Enough will be ready to assume the office of their accusers. Let us draw round them the veil of charity. I am aware that gloomy moralists will object to these views; and call them easy principles, that encourage the vices, flatter the passions, and excuse disorders. Believe me, the most easy and successful mode of reclaiming the wandering, is to carry encouragement and hope to their hearts, and to have faith in their repentance.But ought the ardor to render immortal services—ought the noble ambition to be useful, to be stifled? Are not these the source of pleasures as pure as they are ravishing? I contemplate an immense and indestructible republic, composed of all those men who devote themselves to the happiness of their kind. Occupied without relaxation or abatement in continuing the works which their predecessors have begun, they bequeath to their successors the care of pursuing and crowning their labors. Men of genius are the chiefs of this republic. As they have talents which separate them from the rest of the human race; they have also pleasures reserved for themselves alone. What a sublime sentiment must have elevated the spirit of Newton when a part of the mysterious laws of the universe first dawned on his mind! A glow still more delightful must have pervaded the bosom of Fenelon when meditating the most beautiful lessons which wisdom ever announced to the powerful and the rulers of the people. To these privileged beings it belongs, to give a powerful impulse to minds, and to trace a new path for the generations to come.When the parent is sufficiently enlightened to rear his child himself, instead of plying him with rudimental books, dictionaries and restraint, let him impart the first instructions by familiar conversation. Ideas advanced in this way are accommodated to the comprehension of the pupil, by mutual good feeling rendered attractive, and brought directly within the embrace of his mind. This instruction leads him to observe, and accustoms him to compare, reflect and discriminate, offers the sciences under interesting associations, and inspires a natural thirst for instruction. Of all results which education can produce, this is the most useful. A youth of fifteen, trained in this way, will come into possession of more truths, mixed with fewer errors, than much older persons reared in the common way. He will be distinguished by the early maturity of his reason, and by his eagerness to cultivate the sciences, which, instead of producing fatigue or disgust, will every day give birth to new ideas and new pleasures. I am nevertheless little surprised, that the scrupulous advocates of the existing routine should insist that such a method tends to form superficial thinkers. I can only say to these profound panegyrists of the present order of instruction, that the method which I recommend, was that of the Greeks.—Their philosophers taught while walking in the shade of the portico or of trees, and were ignorant of the art of rendering study tiresome, and not disposed to throw over it the benefits of constraint. Modern instructers ought, therefore, to find that they were shallow reasoners, and that their poets and artists could have produced only crude and unfinished efforts. 全天加拿大28pc LETTER III. THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.Those enchanting dreams, which hold such a delightful place in the life of every man, whose imagination is gay and creative, spring from our desires. Ingenious fictions! Prolific visions! While ye cradle us, we possess the object of our magic reveries. Real possession may be less fugitive. But may it not also vanish like a dream?The sentiment is still more delightful when inspired by a woman. I shall be asked, if it can exist in its purity between persons of the different sexes? I answer in the affirmative, when the impulses of youth no longer agitate the heart. We then experience the whole charm of the sentiment, as the difference of sex, which is never entirely forgotten, imparts to it a vague and touching tenderness and an ideal delight for which language is too poor to furnish terms. All our pleasures are fugitive, and they are all real. That wonderful faculty, the imagination, awakens past pleasures, charms the instant that is flowing, and either veils the future, or embellishes it in the radiance of hope.Our business in life is to be happy; and yet, simple and obvious as this truism is, the greater number disdain or forget it. To judge from the passions and objects that we see exciting man to action, we should suppose that he was placed on the earth, not to become happy, but rich. LETTER I.If, then, by any process of instruction, discipline and mental force, we can influence our circumstances, banish grief and create cheerfulness, we can, in the same degree, reduce rules, for the pursuit of happiness, to a system; and make that system a matter of science. Can we not do this? The very million who deride the idea of seeking for enjoyment through the medium of instruction, unconsciously exercise the power in question to a certain extent—though not to the extent, of which they are capable. All those wise individuals, who have travelled with equanimity and cheerfulness through the diversified scenes of life, making the most of its good, and the least of its evils, bear a general testimony to the truth of this fact. We find in them a conviction that they had such power, and a force of character that enabled them to act according to their convictions.Our business in life is to be happy; and yet, simple and obvious as this truism is, the greater number disdain or forget it. To judge from the passions and objects that we see exciting man to action, we should suppose that he was placed on the earth, not to become happy, but rich. If he suffer in turn, we share his pains. If he have pleasures, we reciprocally enjoy them. If either party experience reverses, instead of finding himself alone in misery, he receives consolations so touching and tender, that he ceases to complain of a lot which has enabled him to become acquainted with the depth of the resources of friendship.I foresee that our brilliant observers, as they run over these precepts, will say to me, ‘you resemble those philosophers who trace the plan of a republic, without taking into the account the passions of men or the state of society; a thousand times more unreasonable, than those writers of romance who publish their dreams as dreams. Your maxims upon indulgence will only awaken for you the pity due to good natured weakness. The maxim of the world is, be adroit to seize upon defects, and prompt to censure the weaknesses of men, that you may intimidate those who can only serve to annoy you; and give up to ridicule those who can only amuse you. Make a display of your desire to oblige. Pronounce sentimental phrases with grace. Make dupes if you can; but take care that you do not become one yourself, by having your own maxims practised upon you. Credit is not revenue, but a sum which becomes exhausted in proportion as you spend upon it, without replacing it. Ought I to be modest when so many examples prove that talents are a small thing, if there be not subjoined the happy talent of making them known. The man who speaks of himself with modesty is believed upon his word; and when I search for the causes of that admiration which certain personages have obtained, I can discover no other than the long obstinacy and persevering intrepidity which they have put in requisition to praise themselves. There are eulogies which men give themselves, of which, as of the calumnies that they wipe out, some traces will always remain. Finally, opinion alone renders our qualities estimable; and he who, with a view to succeed, should immediately cultivate the tawdry virtues which you celebrate, would be as ridiculous as he who should appear in society in the costume worn a century ago.’ They who say this are as right, in their views, as I am in mine. If the interest with which our kind inspires us, if our virtues cannot shield us from injustice, let us hold ourselves aloof from opinion, and while we allow the multitude their way of thinking, let it not disturb our repose. Among the circumstances essential to felicity, I count the attachment of some individuals, but not popularity. 全天加拿大28pc But ought the ardor to render immortal services—ought the noble ambition to be useful, to be stifled? Are not these the source of pleasures as pure as they are ravishing? I contemplate an immense and indestructible republic, composed of all those men who devote themselves to the happiness of their kind. Occupied without relaxation or abatement in continuing the works which their predecessors have begun, they bequeath to their successors the care of pursuing and crowning their labors. Men of genius are the chiefs of this republic. As they have talents which separate them from the rest of the human race; they have also pleasures reserved for themselves alone. What a sublime sentiment must have elevated the spirit of Newton when a part of the mysterious laws of the universe first dawned on his mind! A glow still more delightful must have pervaded the bosom of Fenelon when meditating the most beautiful lessons which wisdom ever announced to the powerful and the rulers of the people. To these privileged beings it belongs, to give a powerful impulse to minds, and to trace a new path for the generations to come.Those who envy authority and office are worthy of commiseration. Men in power are happy, they think. They have but to wish, and it is accomplished. The epitaph of the Swedish minister is sublime, and the index of a great truth. He had run the career of power and fortune with success. When near the period of his death, he ordered this inscription for his tomb: Tandem Felix. At last I am happy.In public places, it is not the spectacles, but the emotions of the common people who behold them, that are worthy of contemplation. In the murder of a poor tragedy by poorer actors, what transports from this enthusiastic mass of the audience when a blow of the poniard, preceded by a pompous maxim, lays the tyrant of the piece low! What earnest feeling, what sincere tears do we witness! How much more worthy of envy these honest people who lose their enjoyment neither by the revolting improbability of the situations, nor by the absurdity of the dialogue, nor by the mouthing of the rehearsal, than those fastidious critics who exalt their intellectual pride at the expense of these cheap enjoyments!It is a puerile absurdity to be proud of the reputation of one to whom we are united by the ties of blood—a distinction which nature gave us. But we may be justly proud of the rare qualities of our friend. The ties of this relation are not the work of nature or contingency. We prove that, in meriting his esteem, we, at least, resemble him in the qualities of his heart.So long a period has elapsed since this has been a subject of investigation, that when the opinion is advanced that this pursuit may be successfully conducted by system, its rules reduced to an art, and thus become assimilated to those of the other arts, most men are utterly incredulous. No truth, however, is more simple. To attain to a knowledge of the rules, it is only requisite, as in the other arts, that there should be natural dispositions for the study, favorable circumstances, and an assiduous investigation of the precepts. Suppose a paralytic disciple of the school of miracles, whose head is exalted with ideas of the mystic power of certain holy men, and who is meditating on the succor which he expects from a divine interposition manifested in his favor. In an ecstasy of faith, he sees a minister of heaven descend enveloped in light, who bids him ‘arise, and walk.’ In a moment the unknown nervous energy, excited by the mysterious power of faith, touches the countless inert and relaxed movements. The man arises and walks. During the siege of Lyons, when bombs fell on the hospital, the terrified paralytics arose and fled.Were the doctrine true, that it is impossible to increase the happiness or diminish the evils of life, it is not perceived that it would not still be necessary to follow my principles. Preach this discouraging doctrine to a good man, and you may afflict him, but will obtain no influence over his conduct. He will always strive to improve his condition, mitigate the sufferings that press upon him, and render men more compassionate and happy. Such noble efforts cannot be entirely lost. The pure intentions, the sincere wishes, which he forms for the good of his kind, give to his mind a pleasant serenity. It assures his own happiness to meditate the means of increasing that of others.But there are two kinds of melancholy; or rather, we must not confound melancholy with gloom. Will the slight tenderness of sorrow which imparts a new charm to the fugitive pleasures of existence be inspired by those gloomy books which this age has attempted to bring into fashion; by those terrific and wild dreams in which hideous personages enact revolting scenes? Modern imagination has painted melancholy a tall and unearthly spectre enveloped in a winding sheet. The real traits of her countenance are those of innocence occupied in pleasant revery; and at the same time that tears are in her eyes, a smile dwells on her lips. If, then, by any process of instruction, discipline and mental force, we can influence our circumstances, banish grief and create cheerfulness, we can, in the same degree, reduce rules, for the pursuit of happiness, to a system; and make that system a matter of science. Can we not do this? The very million who deride the idea of seeking for enjoyment through the medium of instruction, unconsciously exercise the power in question to a certain extent—though not to the extent, of which they are capable. All those wise individuals, who have travelled with equanimity and cheerfulness through the diversified scenes of life, making the most of its good, and the least of its evils, bear a general testimony to the truth of this fact. We find in them a conviction that they had such power, and a force of character that enabled them to act according to their convictions.So long a period has elapsed since this has been a subject of investigation, that when the opinion is advanced that this pursuit may be successfully conducted by system, its rules reduced to an art, and thus become assimilated to those of the other arts, most men are utterly incredulous. No truth, however, is more simple. To attain to a knowledge of the rules, it is only requisite, as in the other arts, that there should be natural dispositions for the study, favorable circumstances, and an assiduous investigation of the precepts.Can any question be imagined in life, in regard to which you ought so deliberately to pause, investigate and weigh all the bearings of the case? And yet can any other important transaction be named, upon which, in this view, so little thought is bestowed, and which is entered into with such reckless blindness to consequences? He, who determines to respect the laws of his being, will study his own temperament, and that of the other party, and weigh the excesses and defects, as one convinced by the general analogy of animated nature, that the physical and mental character, the constitutional and moral temperament of the offspring, in the ordinary course of things, will be a compound of that of the parents. If he find himself subject to any peculiar corporeal infirmity, hereditary tendency to disease, overbearing propensities towards indulgence, or excess, unbalanced passions, or morbid mental obliquity, he will be studiously solicitous, that the other party shall not be laboring under similar disqualifications. I may not follow out the subordinate details. Your thoughts cannot but suggest innumerable considerations, that I pass in silence. Will any moral being, capable of conscientious views of the ultimate bearing of his actions, dare to treat this subject, all momentous as it is, with unphilosophic levity and ridicule? Will any one say, that such discussions ought to be pretermitted by a parent? I affirm, that such are not my notions of the obligations of decorum and propriety. The world has been too long peopled with mere animals bound by the laws, and doomed to the responsibilities of rationality, and yet acting like the orders below them, without a capacity for finding their happiness. If, being men, and inheriting either the privileges, or the doom of men, we will choose to consider ourselves merely as animals, shall we dare to arraign Providence, or fill the world with murmurs, if we enjoy not the peculiar pleasures of either race, and are subject to the miseries of both? When you are aware that such considerations must affect not only your own happiness, or misery, but that of your offspring, a whole coming generation, and the hopes of the regeneration and improvement of a world, you will be sensible, that silence in such a discussion would be guilty pride. I perfectly coincide with the conclusions of Combe upon this subject, and transcribe for your benefit an admirable exposition of my views from the notes appended to his book on the Constitution of Man.Our prejudices transform death into a terrible spectre, accompanied by frightful dreams. The dark and anti-social doctrine, that we were placed on the earth for the punishment of exile, and that we ought never to intermit our contemplation of the grave, was imagined by hypocrites, who preached to others contempt of the world, that they might appropriate it to themselves. A wise man sees in existence a gift which he ought not to sacrifice. In learning how to live, he instructs himself how to die.These truths had never before acquired so much evidence. We know, that cures may be wrought by the single influence of imagination. Ambrose Paré Boerhaave, and many other physicians, have cited striking proofs of this fact. The first of these writers procured abundant sweats for a patient, in making him believe that a perfectly inert substance given him, was a violent sudorific. What would not these sentiments, at once elevated and good, these precious germs produce, were they developed by happy circumstances! That they exist in the human bosom is a sufficient indication that we owe a tender interest to the being who possesses them. Let us love our kind, and cultivate the virtues which render us worthy of their affection.‘It is a very common error, not only among philosophers, but among practical men, to imagine that the feelings of the mind are communicated to it through the medium of the intellect; and, in particular, that if no indelicate objects reach the eyes, or expressions penetrate the ears, perfect purity will necessarily reign within the soul; and, carrying this mistake into practice, 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 reasoning is fallacious, and the practical result has been highly detrimental to society. The feelings have existence 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 objects, and the laws of nature to which they are subjected. The most profound philosophers have inculcated this doctrine; and, by phrenological observation, it is demonstrably established. The organs of the feelings are distinct from those of the intellectual faculties; they are larger; and, as each faculty, c?teris 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, controlled and resisted, in outward manifestation, by intellect and moral sentiment, but which cannot be prevented 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 philosophy, 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 deprived 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 Creator; 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 description. 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 feeling in question is naturally weak, and that such minds perceive no indelicacy in knowledge which is calculated to be useful; while, on the other hand, persons in whom the feeling is naturally strong, are precisely those who stand in need of direction, and to whom, of all others, instruction is the most necessary.’ 全天加拿大28pc I meet men of sanguine temperament, who say in the pride of internal energy, ‘my calculations must succeed. I am certain to acquire wealth.’ Another of the same class assures me, that he sees no turn to his rapid career of advancement; and that he is confident of reaching the summit of greatness. What more fortunate result can he propose, than happiness? My pupil should make all his plans subservient to the numbering of happy days even from the commencement of his career.‘On the other hand, I am not acquainted with a single instance in which the moral and intellectual organs predominated in size, in both father and mother, and whose external circumstances also permitted their general activity, in which the whole children did not partake of a moral and intellectual character, differing slightly in degrees of excellence one from another, but all presenting the decided predominance of the human over the animal faculties.While the fleeting dreams of pleasure hover around us, let reason still say to us, ‘an instant may dissipate them.’ Let us, then, be ready to find a new pleasure in the consciousness of our firmness and our masculine and vigorous independence. An enlightened mind reigns over pleasures; and while they glitter around, enjoys all that are innocent; but disdains a sigh or a regret when they have taken wings and disappeared.To attain truth should be the real end of all study. In such researches the mind kindles, as by enchantment, at every step! The desire to succeed, produces that noble emotion which is always developed by ardent zeal and pure intentions. Success, although we were to think nothing of its results, inspires a kind of pleasure; because truth comports with our understanding, as brilliant and soft colors agree with the eye, or pleasant sounds with the ear. This enjoyment naturally associates with another still more vivid. The effect of truth is universally salutary; and every instance in which our feeble intellect discovers some gleams, elevates the spirit, and intimately penetrates it with a high degree of happiness. Suppose even that they pursue the lessons of the Scotch philosopher to better purpose; and without any emotion, without any impulse of heart, hold out a succoring hand to those who suffer. This, perhaps, may answer the claims of reason. But the social instinct will always repel that austere morality, which would give to the human heart an unnatural insensibility, and deprive it, if I may so say, of its amiable weakness. I would hardly desire to see a man oppose a courage, too stoical, to his own miseries. The natural tears which he sheds in extreme affliction, are his guaranty for the sympathy which he will feel for my sorrows.Such considerations, I hope, will induce you to exercise cautious examination of this subject, if either of you should ever be placed in circumstances to contemplate assuming the duties of the wedded life. If you do not, you will have cast the pursuit of happiness upon the die of chance at the very outset of your career. Allow me, before I dismiss the book, from which I have already so liberally quoted, to extract one passage more, touching the application of the natural laws to the practical arrangements of life.