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Telum imbelle sine ictu
Et summo Clypei nequicquam umbone pependit. b
II. It was at a time when a certain friend, whom I highly value, was my guest. We had been sitting together, entertaining ourselves with Shakespear: among many of his characters, we had looked into that of Wolsey-How soon, says my friend, does the cardinal in disgrace abjure that happiness which he was lately so fond of ? Scarcely out of office, but he begins to exclaim,
Vain pomp and glory of the world ! I hate ye.d So true is it, that our sentiments ever vary with the season; and that in adversity we are of one mind, in prosperity of another.As for his mean opinion, said I, of human happiness, it is a truth, which small reflection might have taught him long before: there seems little need of distress to inform us of this. I rather commend the seeming wisdom of that eastern monarch, who, in the affluence of prosperity, when he was proving every pleasure, was yet so sensible of their emptiness, their insufficiency to make him happy, that he proclaimed a reward to the man who should invent a new delight: the reward indeed was proclaimed, but the delight was not to be found.—If by delight, says he, you mean some good, something conducive to real happiness, it might have been found, perhaps, and yet not hit the monarch's fancy.
-Is that, said I, possible ?—It is possible, replied he, though it had been the sovereign good itself: and, indeed, what wonder? Is it probable that such a mortal as an eastern monarch, such a pampered, flattered, idle mortal, should have attention or capacity to a subject so delicate? A subject, enough to exercise the subtlest and most acute?
What then is it you esteem, said I, the sovereign good to be? It should seem, by your representation, to be something very b Æneid. I. ü. 544.
d Shakespear's Henry the Eighth. e Tusc. Disp. v. 7.
• Viz. the Platonic.
uncommon.-Ask me not the question, said he, you know not where it will carry us. Its general idea, indeed, is easy and plain, but the detail of particulars is perplexed and long ; passions and opinions for ever thwart us; a paradox appears in almost every advance. Besides, did our inquiries succeed ever so happily, the very subject itself is always enough to give me pain.—That, replied 1, seems a paradox indeed.— It is not, said he, from any prejudice which I have conceived against it; for to man I esteem it the noblest in the world: nor is it for being a subject to which my genius does not lead me; for no subject at all times has more employed my attention: but the truth is, I can scarce ever think on it, but an unlucky story still occurs to my mind. "A certain star-gazer, with his telescope was once viewing the moon, and describing her seas, her mountains, and her territories. Says a clown to his companion, 'Let him spy what he pleases, we are as near to the moon as he and all his brethren. So fares it, alas! with these, our moral speculations. Practice too often creeps, where theory can soar:' the philosopher proves as weak as those whom he most contemns: a mortifying thought to such as well attend it.—Too mortifying, replied I, to be long dwelt on. Give us rather your general idea of the sovereign good : this is easy, from your own account, however intricate the detail.
Thus then, said he, since you are so urgent, it is thus that I conceive it. The sovereign good is that, the possession of which renders us happy. And how, said I, do we possess it? Is it sensual, or intellectual ?—There you are entering, said he, upon the detail; this is beyond your question. Not a small advance, said I, to indulge poor curiosity? Will you raise me a thirst, and be so cruel not to allay it? It is not, replied he, of my raising, but your own. Besides, I am not certain, should I attempt to proceed, whether you will admit such authorities as it is possible I may vouch.—That, said I, must be determined by their weight and character.-Suppose, said he, it should be mankind, the whole human race; would you not think it something strange, to seek of those concerning good, who pursue it a thousand ways, and many of them contradictory? I confess, said I, it seems 80.—And yet, continued he, were there a point in which such dissentients ever agreed, this agreement would be no mean argument in favour of its truth and justness.-But where, replied I, is this agreement to be found?
He answered me by asking, What, if it should appear that there were certain original characteristics and preconceptions of i See sect. 7. and note o.
The reader will be pleased to observe, 8 Κτήσει γαρ αγαθών, οι ευδαίμονες, that in all quotations from the Dissertations evdaluoves : “By the possession of things of Epictetus, collected by Arrian, the author good are the happy made happy.” Pla- refers to the late edition in two volumes ton. Conviv, vol. ii. p. 204. edit. Serrani. quarto, published by his learned and inPhileb. Plat. p. 60. B. See Arrian Epict. gcnious friend, Mr. Upton. 1. iji, c. 22.
good," which were natural, uniform, and common to all men ; which all recognised in their various pursuits; and that the difference lay only in the applying them to particulars ?'_This
h The preconceptions here spoken of are φυσική των καθόλου: “a preconception is called by the Latins prænotiones, or an- the natural apprehension of what is general, ticipationes ; by the Greeks apua nyers, or or universal.” Diog. Laert. l. vii. 6. 54. έννοιαι, with the occasional epithets of See also Arrian. Epict. 1. i. c. 22. 1. iii. c. 6. κoιναι, έμφυτοι, or φυσικαί.
Cic. de Natura Deor. l. i. c. 16, 17. Plut. It is evident, that all men, without the de Placit. Philosoph. 910. C. Aristot. de least help of art, exert a kind of natural Anim. iii. 11. logic; can in some degree refute, and prove, 1 This was called εφαρμογή των προλήand render a reason.
ψεων ταις επί μέρους ουσίαις-τας φυσικάς Now this cannot be (as the meanest pro- προλήψεις εφαρμόζειν ταϊς επί μέρους τουficient in logic well knows) without general riais. Arr. Epict. I. i. c. 22. ed. Upt. See ideas, and general propositions, because a an eminent instance, illustrating the truth syllogism of particulars is an impossibility; of this reasoning, in the same author, 1. iv. there must be therefore some natural faculty c. 1. p. 545. Εννοούμεν γαρ, ότι, &c. Boet. to provide us these generals : this faculty de Cons. I. ïïi. Prosa. ii. p. 106. cannot be any of the senses, for they all So Proclus, in his manuscript comment respect particulars only ; nor can it be the on the first Alcibiades of Plato, p. 139. 'H Γeasoning or syllogizing faculty, for this κοινή και αδιάστρoφoς έννοια την ευδαιdoes not form such generals, but use them μονίαν τη αυταρκεία χαρακτηρίζει παρ' when formed. There only, therefore, re- ών γάρ το ευ, παρά τούτων και το αυταρκες. mains the faculty called νους, that is to και δράς δή πάλιν όπως ενταύθα και ο ΑλκιBay, the inductive faculty; the faculty, βιάδης κατορθοί μέν κατά την μείζονα, which, by induction of similar individuals, σφάλλεται δε κατά την ελάττονα πρότασιν. forms out of the particular and the many, Συλλογίζεται γαρ ούτως εγώ διά σώμα, what is general and one. This species of και γένος, και φίλους, και πλούτον ευδαίμων apprehension is evidently our first and ο ευδαίμων ανενδεής: εγώ (φησίν) ανενδεής, earliest knowledge ; because all knowledge oυκούν ότι μεν και ευδαίμων ανενδεής, αληθές: by reasoning dates its origin from it; and 871 αυτός ευδαίμων, ψευδές: το γούν because, except these two, no other know- συμπέρασμα ψευδές διά την ελάττονα. και ledge is possible.
ούτως ευρήσεις και τον φιλήδονον, και τον As, therefore, every ear, not absolutely φιλοχρήματος, διά ταύτην ψευδομένους. και depraved, is able to make some general μεν γαρ ηδονήν, ο δε χρήματα τίθεται το distinctions of sound; and, in like manner, αγαθόν. ότι δε πάν το εφετών αγαθών, κοινόν every eye, with respect to objects of vision; έστιν αυτοίς, και συνελόντι φάναι, τάς μεν and as this general use of these faculties, μείζoυς των προτάσεων έκαστοι τιθέασιν, by being diffused through all individuals, απότων κοινών εννοιών και του λόγου ταύτας may be called common hearing, and com- προβάλλοντες, τας δε ελάττους από φανmon vision, as opposed to those more ac- τασίας, από αισθήσεως, από των αλόγων curate energies, peculiar only to artists και προφέρονται παθών· διό και ταύταις μεν 80 fares it with respect to the intellect. διαφέρονται προς αλλήλους, εκείναις δε There are truths, or universals, of 80 ob- ομοφρονούσι, τα μεν γαρ πάθη μερισμού και vious a kind, that every mind, or intellect, διαστάσεώς έστιν αίτια ταϊς ψυχαίς τιnot absolutely depraved, without the least τανικά γάρ έστι, και διασπά, και σπαράττει help of art, can hardly fail to recognise τον εν ημίν νούν και δε λόγος κοινός έστι them. The recognition of these, or at least πάσι, και η του λόγου προβολής και διά the ability to recognise therm, is called τούτο ΚΟΙΝΟΣ Ο ΕΡΜΗΣ ίνα δή και κοινός νους,
as being a ηθικώς αυτού ποιησώμεθα την εξήγησιν. sense common to all, except lunatics and “ The universal and unperverted idea of ideots.
man characterizes happiness by self-sufFurther : as this power is called koivos ficiency: for with whomever well-being voûs, so the several propositions, which are exists, with them the self-sufficient exists its proper objects, are called προλήψεις, or also. You see, therefore, how here again preconceptions, as being previous to all other Alcibiades is right as to his major proposition, conceptions. It is easy to gather from what but mistaken as to the minor. For thus it has been said, that these προλήψεις must be is he syllogizes : “I, on account of my pergeneral, as being formed by induction ; as son, and family, and friends, and wealth, also natural, by being common to all men, and am happy. The person happy is superior previous to all instruction. Hence, therefore, to want; therefore am I superior to want." their definition : "Έστι δ' ή πρόληψις, έννοια Now that the person happy is superior to
requires, said I, to be illustrated.--As if, continued he, a company of travellers, in some wide forest, were all intending for one city, but each by a rout peculiar to himself: the roads, indeed, would be various, and many, perhaps, false ; but all who travelled would have one end in view.-It is evident, said I, they would.-So fares it, then, added he, with mankind in pursuit of good: the ways, indeed, are many, but what they seek is one.
For instance: did you ever hear of any one, who, in pursuit of their good, were for living the life of a bird, an insect, or a fish ?None.—And why not?
It would be inconsistent, answered I, with their nature.—You see, then, said he, they all agree in this, that what they pursue, ought to be consistent, and agreeable to their proper nature.--So ought it, said I, undoubtedly.—If so, continued he, one preconception is discovered, which is common to good in general; it is, that “all good is supposed something agreeable to nature.”—This, indeed, replied I, seems to be agreed on all hands.
But again, said he, is there a man scarcely to be found of a temper so truly mortified, as to acquiesce in the lowest, and shortest necessaries of life? who aims not, if he be able, at something further, something better?-I replied, scarcely one.Do not multitudes pursue, said he, infinite objects of desire, acknowledged every one of them to be in no respect necessaries? exquisite viands, delicious wines, splendid apparel
, curious gardens;- magnificent apartments adorned with pictures and sculpture; music and poetry, and the whole tribe of elegant arts ? It is evident, said I.-If it be, continued he, it should seem that they all considered the chief or sovereign good, not to be that which conduces to bare existence, or mere being; for to this the necessaries alone are adequate.— I replied, they were.—But if not this, it must be somewhat conducive to that which is superior to mere being.-It must.—And what, continued he, can this be, but well-being ? well-being, under the various shapes in which differing opinions paint it? Or can you suggest any thing else? I replied, I could not.—Mark here, then, continued he, another preconception, in which they all agree: the sovereign good is somewhat conducive, not to mere being, but to well-being.-I replied, it had so appeared.
want, is true ; but that he was happy, was positions are produced from imagination, false. The conelusion, therefore, is false from sense, and from irrational passions. through the minor proposition.
And hence it is, that about these last they " It is thus also you will find the lover of differ one with another, while in the former pleasure, and the lover of money, erring in they all agree. The passions, indeed, may their reasonings through the same propo be considered within the souls of men as sition. For one of them lays down the the causes of division and distance ; for good of man to be pleasure, the other to be they are Titanic, and distract and tear our riches ; but that every thing desirable is intellect to pieces. But reason is the same good, this they possess in common, and and common to all, as is also the faculty of assent to on both sides.
speech, the medium of its promulgation. " It may be said, indeed, universally, that And hence it is that Hermes (the type of all individuals produce the general propo- rational discourse) is called “common and sitions, which they lay down, from their universal,' if we may be allowed to give of common or universal ideas, and from the him an ethical explanation." faculty of reason : but that their minor pro
Again, continued he, what labour, what expense, to procure those rarities which our own poor country is unable to afford us? How is the world ransacked to its utmost verges, and luxury and arts imported from every quarter? Nay, more, how do we baffle nature herself; invert her order; seek the vegetables of spring in the rigours of winter, and winter's ice during the heats of summer? -I replied, we did. And what disappointment, what remorse, when endeavours fail ?- It is true.-If this, then, be evident, said be, it should seem, that whatever we desire as our chief and sovereign good, is “ something which, as far as possible, we would accommodate to all places and times." I answered, so it appeared.—See, then, said he, another of its characteristics, another preconception.
But further still; what contests for wealth? what scrambling for property? what perils in the pursuit, what solicitude in the maintenance? And why all this? To what purpose, what end? Or is not the reason plain? Is it not, that wealth may continually procure us whatever we fancy good ; and make that perpetual, which would otherwise be transient ?-I replied, it seemed so.—Is it not further desired, as supplying us from ourselves, when, without it, we must be beholden to the benevolence of others, and depend on their caprice for all that we enjoy?--It is true, said I, this seems a reason.
Again; Is not power of every degree as much contested for as wealth ? Are not magistracies, honours, principalities, and empire, the subjects of strife, and everlasting contention ?--I replied, they were.—And why, said he, this? To obtain what end? Is it not to help us, like wealth, to the possession of what we desire ? Is it not further to ascertain, to secure our enjoyments; that when others would deprive us, we may be strong enough to resist them ?-I replied, it was.
Or to invert the whole, Why are there who seek recesses the most distant and retired ?k fly courts and power, and submit to parsimony and obscurity? Why all this, but from the same intention? From an opinion that small possessions, used moderately, are permanent; that larger possessions raise envy, and are more frequently invaded ; that the safety of power and dignity is more precarious than that of retreat, and that there
* Multi autem et sunt, et fuerunt, qui prium est sic vivere, ut velis. Quare cum eam, quam dico, tranquillitatem expetentes hoc commune fit potentiæ cupidorum cum a negotiis publicis se removerint, ad otium- iis, quos dixi, otiosis: alteri se adipisci id que perfugerint. His idem propositum fuit, posse arbitrantur, si opes magnas habeant ; quod regibus ; ut ne qua re egerent, ne cui alteri si contenti sint et suo, et parvo. Cic. parerent, libertate uterentur : cujus pro- de Offic. I. i. c. 20, 21.