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rulers were always wise and patriotic, and subjects cheerfully submissive to just authority; but what is fairly to be expected in the present actual state of human nature. A few general strictures on man may therefore not unfitly introduce the following discourse. I. Man, at his entrance into the world, is little superior to a mere animal. His pains and his pleasures are confined to his senses; if these are gratified, he is at rest; if craving, he is unquiet and clamorous; his appetites are under no direction from reason or choice, and the infant flies to his mother's breast at the single impulse of nature, as the young of other animals to the dug; or, if deprived of his proper nourishment, he manifests the same kind of uneasiness. After a short time, however, he must be diverted as well as fed; and his rattle will become hardly less necessary to keep him in good humour, than the satisfying of his hunger. From this early power of the senses arises the mind has well arrived at a capacity of instruction, it is preoccupied with the ideas of animal gratification and infantine amusement, which, by constantly soliciting the attention, often render it an office of much labour and patience to imprint the first rudiments of learning. As imagination gathers force, the influence of sensible objects is further augmented. This magic faculty will lend a charm to the merest trifles; and to a child of six years old, convert a hobbyhorse or a puppetshow into objects as delightful, as the pride of equipage or the enchantment of a masquerade are to children more advanced. Thus the love of pleasure, and the passions in general, are wonderfully promoted by this illusory power, which, by a silent and rapid progress, often gains a dangerous ascendancy before reason has acquired strength to resist its course. When the season of youth arrives, in which nature inflames the imagination, and is inflamed by it to the highest degree, the love of pleasure commonly works with im
terminate at this period; it continues frequently through middle life, and sometimes pursues unhappy mortals to that season when the powers of gratification are enfeebled and broken. To estimate its strength, let us for a moment consider the several mounds and barriers which, in its passage, it forces or surmounts. It overbears all regard to temporal interest. How often will a young man, with the brightest prospect of success before him, be drawn aside by the lure of sensual indulgence from the road of sober industry, to wander in forbidden paths, in spite of every remonstrance of his friends, or the secret bodings of his own mind, that his rovings will end in poverty or a jail! Nor is it only in preventing the acquisition of wealth that the seduction of pleasure operates; it also consumes many a fair inheritance; families that have shone with lustre for ages are thus sometimes suddenly eclipsed; and those who were born to splendid expectations, compelled to hire out themselves for bread.
This is the more observable, because a man may run to great excesses, may violate all the laws of sobriety and decency that are not adopted into the code of fashion, without forfeiting his character in the world. And yet such often is the madness of appetite, that it will brook no restraint whatever, divine or human; will both provoke the displeasure of heaven, and the disgrace and contempt of men.
It will also surmount all regard to health, and to life itself. What numbers are thus made to pine away in disease, and brought untimely to their graves, must strike the most careless observation. And if we inquire into our public executions, many of the wretched sufferers will be found among the victims of pleasure.
In the last place, it is commonly an overmatch for reason in its highest improvement. It might have been expected that, after the first fervours of imagination were abated, the intellectual power would gradually have assumed its just dominion over the propensities of animal nature. Instead of this, philosophers, and the further instruction of experience, it is often found degraded into a mean spy for appetite, or a suborned advocate to justify its excesses. Among the most celebrated heathen sages, we meet with few without a taint of gross depravity; and what is a more awful illustration of this argument, he who has been accounted the wisest of mankind, who, in addition to the highest human endowments, enjoyed the advantages of divine revelation, fell a prey to his sensual passions!
Under this head may be ranked the love of ease; a principle of such deep root in human nature, that persons of the most active disposition are not entirely exempt from its influence, wrhile over some others it reigns with an uncontroled despotism. So dear was this principle in the eyes of Epicurus, fhat he preferred its gratification before every other kind of enjoyment; and we cannot doubt, that in every age there have been many who, either from philosophy or temperament, or from both in conjunction, have made a like preference; and