Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

government and our privileges, in the same manner in which we enjoy and transmit our property and our lives. The institutions of policy, the goods of fortune, the gifts of Providence, are handed down, to us and from us, in the same course and order. Our political system is placed in a just correspondence and symmetry with the order of the world, and with the mode of existence decreed to a permanent body composed of transitory parts; wherein by the disposition of a stupendous wisdom, moulding together the great mysterious incorporation of the human race, the whole, at one time, is never old or middle-aged or young, but in a condition of unchangeable constancy, moves on through the varied tenor of perpetual decay, fall, renovation and progression. Thus, by preserving the method of nature in the conduct of the state, in what we improve we are never wholly new; in what we retain, we are never wholly obsolete. By adhering in this manner and on those principles to our forefathers, we are guided not by the superstition of antiquaries, but by the spirit of philosophic analogy. In this choice of inheritance we have given to our frame of polity the image of a relation in blood; binding up the constitution of our country with our dearest domestic ties; adopting our fundamental laws into the bosom of our family affections; keeping inseparable, and cherishing with the warmth of all their combined and mutually reflected charities, our states, our hearths, our sepulchres, and our altars.

E. BURKE

69. PARALLEL BETWEEN SHAKESPEARE AND FLETCHER. For what remains, the excellency of Shakespeare was, as I have said, in the more manly passions; Fletcher's in the softer; Shakespeare writ better betwixt man and man; Fletcher, betwixt man and woman; consequently one described friendship better; the other, love. Yet Shakespeare taught Fletcher to write love. It is true, the scholar had the softer soul; but the master had the kinder. Friendship is both a virtue and a passion essentially ; love is a passion only in its nature, and is not a virtue but by accident.... Shakespeare had an universal mind, which comprehended all characters and passions; Fletcher a more confined and limited : for though he treated love in perfection, yet ambition, revenge, and all the stronger passions, he either touched not or not masterly.

J. DRYDEN

70. CHARLES TOWNSHEND, HIS MERITS AS A SPEAKER. In truth, Sir, he was the delight and ornament of this house, and the charm of every private society which he honoured with his presence. Perhaps there never arose in this country, nor in any country, a man of a more pointed and finished wit; and (where his passions were not concerned) of a more refined, exquisite, and penetrating judgment. If he had not so great a stock, as some have had who flourished formerly, of knowledge long treasured up, he knew better by far than any man I ever was acquainted with, how to bring together within a short time all that was necessary to establish, to illustrate, and to decorate that side of the question he supported. He stated his matter skilfully and powerfully. He particularly excelled in a most luminous explanation and display of his subject. His style of argument was neither trite and vulgar, nor subtle and abstruse. He hit the house just between wind and water. And not being troubled with too anxious a zeal for any matter in question, he was never more tedious or more earnest than the preconceived opinions and present temper of his hearers required; to whom he was always in perfect unison. He conformed exactly to the temper of the house; and he seemed to guide, because he was always sure to follow it.

E. BURKE

71. SENSIBLE THINGS. Phil. This point then is agreed between us, that sensible things are those only which are immediately perceived by sense. You will farther inform me, whether we immediately perceive by sight any thing beside light, and colours, and figures: or by hearing, any thing but sounds: by the palate, any thing beside tastes: by the smell, beside odours; or by the touch, more than tangible qualities. Hyl. We do not.

Phil. It seems therefore, that if you take away all sensible qualities, there remains nothing sensible? Hyl. I grant it. Phil. Sensible things therefore are nothing else but so many sensible qualities or combinations of sensible qualities? Hyl. Nothing else. Phil. Heat then is a sensible thing? Hyl. Certainly. Phil. Doth the reality of sensible things consist in being perceived? or, is it something distinct from their being perceived and that bears no relation to the mind? Hyl. To exist is one thing, and to be perceived is another. Phil. I speak with regard to sensible things

:

only: and of these I ask, whether by their real existence you mean a subsistence exterior to the mind, and distinct from their being perceived ? HYL. I mean a real absolute being, distinct from and without any relation to their being perceived.

G. BERKELEY

72. ULTIMATE PREDOMINANCE OF INTELLECT OVER SENSE. It is a vulgar theme, that man is a compound of contrarieties, which breed a restless struggle in its nature, between flesh and spirit, the beast and the angel, earth and heaven, ever weighed down and ever bearing up. During which conflict the character fluctuates: when either side prevails, it is then fixed for vice or virtue. And life from different. principles takes a different issue. It is the same in regard to our faculties. Sense at first besets and overbears the mind. The sensible appearances are all in all: our reasonings are employed about them: our desires terminate in them: we look no farther for realities or causes; till intellect begins to dawn, and cast a ray on this shadowy

We then perceive the true principle of unity, identity, and existence. Those things that before seemed to constitute the whole of being, upon taking an intellectual view of things, prove to be but fleeting phantoms. G. BERKELEY

sense.

73. CIVIL INJURIES-SEVERAL KINDS OF AND REMEDIES FOR. Under these three heads may every species of remedy by suit or action in the courts of common law be comprized. But in order effectually to apply the remedy, it is first necessary to ascertain the complaint. I proceed therefore now to enumerate the several kinds, and to inquire into the respective natures of all private wrongs or civil injuries which may be offered to the rights of either a man's person or his property; recounting at the same time the respective remedies, which are furnished by the law for every infraction of right. But I must first beg leave to premise, that all civil injuries are of two kinds, the one without force or violence, as slander or breach of contract; the other coupled with force and violence, as batteries or false imprisonment. Which latter species savour something of the criminal kind, being always attended with some violation of the peace; for which in strictness of law a fine ought to be paid to the king as well as a private satisfaction to the party injured. FOL. CENT.

24

And this distinction of private wrongs into injuries with and without force we shall find to run through all the variety of which we are now to treat. In considering of which, I shall follow the same method that was pursued with regard to the distribution of rights: for these are nothing else but an infringement or breach of those rights.

74. ENGLISH COLONIAL POLICY. But, Sir, in wishing to put an end to pernicious experiments, I do not mean to preclude the fullest inquiry. Far from it. Far from deciding on a sudden or partial view, I would patiently go round and round the subject, and survey it minutely in every possible aspect. Sir, if I were capable of engaging you to an equal attention, I would state, that, as far as I am capable of discerning, there are but three ways of proceeding relative to this stubborn spirit, which prevails in your colonies and disturbs your government. These are—to change that spirit, as inconvenient, by removing the causes. To prosecute it as a criminal. Or, to comply with it as necessary. I would not be guilty of an imperfect enumeration; I can think of but these three. Another has indeed been started, that of giving up the colonies; but it met so slight a reception that I do not think myself obliged to dwell a great while upon it. It is nothing but a little sally of anger, like the frowardness of peevish children, who, when they cannot get all they would have, are resolved to take nothing

E. BURKE

FROM

ΤΟ

HYDASPES FROM

75. LETTER

CLEANDER ATHENS. Philemon has passed through the most considerable offices in the state. He was, when very young, captain of a trireme at the battle of Salamis, and narrowly missed taking the famous Queen Artemisia, who escaped him by a very extraordinary stratagem. He has been since overseer of the fortifications, archon, one of the five hundred, and is now a member of the Areopagus. In all these employments an unblemished integrity, and an exact discharge of his duty, have recommended him to his countrymen as one of their most deserving citizens. He has frequently opposed the measures both of Cimon and Pericles; but it was in such a manner, that you saw, though he condemned the faults, he spared the men; and that his opposition proceeded not from ambition or caprice, but from an honest zeal for the public welfare. He is always well heard in the assemblies of the people, not from the art or eloquence of his orations, or a command of words, that rather overpowers than convinces the reason; but because he speaks to the purpose, and with an air and gesture, that shews he does not mean to impose upon his hearers, unless he is first deceived himself. Another quality, which distinguishes my friend, is a singular humanity : his door is open to every poor citizen, and his table prepared with a frugal hospitality to receive any stranger, who comes recommended either by his own deserts, or the request of a common friend. There is not a greater test of his benevolent temper, than that though he is an old man, he can encourage the mirth, and bear with the levities of the young; nor a stronger instance of his good breeding, than that he does not abound in the narrative faculty of years, and is rather forward to promote the conversation of others, than to assume an air of superiority, by obliging them to listen to his. This is an imperfect sketch of Philemon's character: I pass next to that of my other companions.

Athenian Letters

76. EXAMPLES OF DIVINE BENEVOLENCE. The contemplation of universal nature rather bewilders the mind than affects it. There is always a bright spot in the prospect, upon which the eye rests: a single example perhaps by which each man finds himself more convinced than by all others put together. I seem for my own part to see the benevolence of the Deity more clearly in the pleasures of very young children, than in any thing in the world. The pleasures of grown persons may be reckoned partly of their own procuring; especially if there has been any industry, or contrivance, or pursuit to come at them; or if they are founded, like music and painting, upon any qualification of their own acquiring. But the pleasures of a healthy infant are so manifestly provided for it by another, and the benevolence of the provision is so unquestionable, that every child I see at its sport affords to my mind a kind of sensible evidence of the finger of God, and of the disposition which directs it. But the example which strikes each man most strongly, is the true example for him: and hardly two minds hit upon the same; which shews the abundance of such examples about us.

« AnteriorContinuar »