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"viceable in fighting the battles of Wistnow, was "ordered by the god to wish for whatever he thought proper, and the desire should be at"tended with immediate gratification. The elephant thanked his benefactor with bended "knees, and desired to be endowed with the reason and the faculties of a man. Wistnow was
sorry to hear the foolish request, and endea"voured to dissuade him from his misplaced am"bition; but finding it to no purpose, gave him "at last such a portion of wisdom as would cor"rect even the Zendavesta of Zoroaster.
"The reasoning elephant went away rejoicing in his new acquisition; and though his "body still retained its ancient form, he found "his appetites and passions entirely altered. He "first considered that it would not only be 66 more comfortable, but also more becom"ing, to wear clothes; but unhappily he had
no method of making them himself, nor had "he the use of speech to demand them from "others; and this was the first time he felt real
anxiety. He soon perceived how much more elegantly men were fed than he; therefore he "began to loath his usual food, and longed for "those delicacies which adorn the tables of "princes; but here again he found it impossible "to be satisfied, for though he could easily ob
"tain flesh; yet he found it impossible to dress "it in any degree of perfection.
"In short every pleasure that contributed to "the felicity of mankind, served only to render "him more miserable, as he found himself utterly "deprived of the power of enjoyment. In this “manner he led a repining discontented life,
detesting himself and displeased with his ill "judged ambition; till at last his benefactor "Wistnow, taking compassion on his forlorn "situation, restored him to the ignorance and the "happiness which he was originally formed to " enjoy."
To attempt to introduce the sciences into a nation of wandering barbarians, is only to render them more miserable than ever nature designed they should be. A life of simplicity is best fitted to a state of solitude.
The great lawgiver of Russia attempted to improve the desolate inhabitants of Siberia by sending among them some of the politest men of Europe. The consequence has shewn, that the country was as yet unfit to receive them; they languished for a time with a sort of exotic malady, every day degenerated from themselves, and at last, instead of rendering the country more polite, they conformed to the soil, and put on barbarity.
In order to make the sciences useful in any country, it must first become populous: the inhabitant must go through the different stages of hunter, shepherd, and husbandman. Then, when property becomes valuable, and consequently gives cause for injustice; then, when laws are appointed to repress injury, and secure possessions; when men by the sanction of those laws become possessed of superfluity; when luxury is thus introduced and demands its continual supply, then it is that the sciences become necessary and useful; the state then cannot subsist without them; they must then be introduced, at once to teach men to draw the greatest possible quantity of pleasure from circumscribed possession; and to restrain them within the bounds of moderate enjoyment.
The sciences are not the cause of luxury but its consequence, and this destroyer thus brings with it an antidote which resists the virulence of its own poison. By asserting that luxury introduces the sciences, we assert a truth; but if, with those who reject the utility of learning, we assert that the sciences also introduce luxury, we shall be at once false, absurd, and ridiculous.
THE beauties of style are too often considered
as below the attention both of the author and reader; but there was a time (and it was a period of the truest refinement) when an excellence of this kind was esteemed in the number of the politest accomplishments; as it was the ambition of some of the greatest names of antiquity, to distinguish themselves in the improvements of their native tongue.
Julius Cæsar, who was not only the greatest hero, but the finest gentleman that ever, perhaps, appeared in the world, was desirous of adding this talent to his other most shining endowments; and we are told that he studied the language of his country with much application; as we are sure he possessed it in the highest elegance. What
a loss is it to the literary world, that the treatise which he wrote upon this subject, is perished with many valuable works of that age! But though we are deprived of the benefit of his observations, we are happily not without an instance of their effects; and his own memoirs will ever remain as the brightest exemplar, not only of true generalship, but of fine writing. He published them, indeed, only as materials for the use of those who should be disposed to enlarge upon that remarkable period of the Roman story; yet the purity and gracefulness of his style were such, that no judicious writer durst attempt to touch the subject after him.
Having produced so illustrious an instance in favour of this art, it would be impertinent to add a second, were I to cite a less authority than that of the immortal Tully. This able author, in his dialogue concerning the celebrated Roman orators, frequently mentions it as a very high encomium, that they possessed the elegance of their native language; and introduces Brutus as declaring, that he would prefer the honour of being esteemed the great master and improver of Roman eloquence, even to the glory of many triumphs.
But to add reason to precedent, and to view this art in its use as well as its dignity; will it not