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well as the art of reasoning correctly; we might learn order, justice, sincerity, foresight, and the government of the passions, in schools, as well as arithmetic, grammar,. and rhetoric; and we might make as much progress in the practice as in the theory of morality.
If we are assured that virtue may be reduced to a science, it is not the less certain that this science is of a nature to exercise the most extensive and salutary influence upon society.
We all know what an indispensable element in social life good habits are. We cannot be ignorant that, of all the elements which enter into industry, private and civil virtues are the most indispensable; for labour without good habits hardly ever produces any result which is beneficial to the moral state, of society. We need not say how important to all other arts are those which strive directly to produce virtue.; how much real value they impart to man, and what power and facility in action they procure for him in everything which he has to do. This is a fact that needs no development or proof.
But those arts which tend to the formation of our moral habits are not only important because they render all others easier, and supply them with the most essential ingredients of their freedom of action, but they have a more immediate utility. Like all other sciences which exercise an influence upon man, they have the adyantage of immediately cultivating his intellect, and are perhaps those of all others which contribute the most to its improveinent.
There are some sciences which are devoted to the amelioration of man's physical condition ; others labour for the excitement of his imagination and his affections,
and others apply themselves to the development of his intellectual faculties; but if it is important for him to be healthy and handsome, full of active perception, and intelligent, of how much greater importance must it be to him to become virtuous ? And those arts which teach him to submit his imagination and feelings to the dictates of his understanding are indisputably, among all which aim at his improvement, those which contribute most to his dignity and happiness.
Virtue, that inward power, which, without stilling our natural affections, gives us the ability of restraining them within the - limits prescribed by an enlightened judgment, virtue is the most noble and precious of all our faculties. Without it there is nothing but disorder or weakness in our actions. Virtue alone has the power to prevent our reason from being a barren gift, and our passions a hurtful one. It deprives our passions of their poison, and reason of its impotence : it makes feeling serve to animate and excite our reason, and reason to elevate and direct our feelings. Virtue thus corrects the two orders of faculties, the one acting upon the other, and it equally perfects them both.
Those passions against which so much has been said may all contribute to the perfection of our being, -even those which are taken in a bad sense, and generally denominated evil. Hatred becomes a good feeling when it is only directed against vice; it is commendable in a king to show himself sparing of the blood and treasure of his subjects; pride may preserve us from baseness ; self-lore may be in a certain sense justifiable, and so on.
But or the other hand all passions may debase and render us miserable ; even those which are the most estimable may produce injurious effects. What
shameful disorders have been caused by bigotry, and the wrong direction of religious feeling! How much vice and misery mistaken charity develops! What crimes and madness even love has occasioned, the most tender and benevolent of all the passions ! All our affections, therefore, are alternately good or bad, salutary or hurtful, according to the direction we give them. It is the effect of virtue, and of those arts which bring it forth, to deprive them of what is evil by keeping them within proper limits. It is the peculiar property of those arts so to modify our inclinations as to induce us always to act in that way which is most conformable to our real good, and consequently to our happiness.
If they act usefully upon our passions, they do not exercise a less salutary influence on our reason. We have before observed, that it is possible to be well versed in the theory of morals, without being necessarily a moral man.
Postquam docti prodierunt, boni desunt.” “ Since learned men have abounded, good men are scarce," said an ancient moralist. Science, however, is not an obstacle to virtue; and Seneca is decidedly wrong in representing knowledge as the enemy of virtue, since our best feelings need to be enlightened to prevent us from acting wrong. But although science is not opposed to virtue, we must allow that it is not sufficient to produce it. We know how common it is to see men of learning who are deficient in morals ; men who are chaste in their conversation, and very irregular in their habits; men who are very liberal in theory, and extremely unjust and despotic in practice; men very Javish in all that concerns themselves, but cold and selfish in relation to the well-being of others.
This contrast of an enlightened understanding and uncultivated morals will always be the more striking among a people who have paid the greatest attention to the former, and have neglected the improvement of their habits in the same proportion as they have bestowed their time and care on the perfection of their reason.
This is precisely what we have done in the present day. It appears that the formation of morals was never less attended to than since we have been so zealously occupied in the diffusion of knowledge. It is this imperfection in our habits, compared with our extended information, which doubtless makes so many persons think that the progress of knowledge is injurious to well-regulated habits ; a very unreasonable idea, it is true, but one which can only be removed by new methods of instruction founded on the science of moral education. It is the province of this art to remove that contradiction which is thought to exist between morals and knowledge, and, by taking as much pains to bend the will to the direction of the understanding, as other arts and other modes of instruction devote to the development of the understanding itself, to remove the anomaly of an enlightened mind which has no power over its own conduct; to teach reason what it has the capacity to learn, by making it acquire that power of will which gives the finishing stroke to its cultivation, and without which all it has learned only serves to make it feel its own weakness, and its natural and humiliating dependence on the passions.
The art which labours to make our desires agree with our knowledge, not ly removes us from a very humiliating state, but also delivers us from a very painful one.
What can be more painful than the war which
our reason and passions carry on within us—than the state in which our moi (self), as Buffon remarks, appears to be shared by two persons; one of whom, namely, the reasoning faculty, blames what is done by the second, without being strong enough to counteract it; and the second, that is, the faculty of passion, does what the former condemns, without being able to escape from the judgment which its other half forms of this conduct, and which opinion embitters all its pleasures? What can be more miserable than a learned man who cannot govern himself-than a man whose judgment combats against a bad action, but is yet drawn on by his inclinations to do what his mind condemns? It would be better to be without either feeling or reason altogether, than to be thus tossed about by opposing faculties. But what is far better than being without passion or reason, is to possess at the same time the sensitive and reasoning faculties, when a good moral education has afforded us the requisite strength to submit the former to the guidance of the latter.
The art which gives us this power, the art which develops this class of faculties in us which we call virtues and moral habits, is undoubtedly that which procures for us the most perfect pleasures. All others want something: the pleasures of sense are gross
and evanescent; those of passion are filled with trouble and anguish; those of the understanding are mingled with insipidity; the pleasures of virtue alone are perfect. These pleasures, without excluding others, exclude that which corrupts them; they are composed, above all, of that security, tranquillity, and elevated satisfaction produced by self-command, and the habit of only yielding