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give the name of politeness. But politeness itself, in all its most important respects, indeed in every respect, in which it is to be separated from the mere fluctuating and arbitrary forms and ceremonies of the month or year, -is nothing more than knowledge of the human mind directing general benevolence. It is the art of producing the greatest happiness, which, in the mere external courtesies of life, can be produced, by raising such ideas or other feelings in the minds of those with whom we are conversant, as will afford the most pleasure, and averting, as much as possible, every idea which may lead to pain. It implies, therefore, when perfect, a fine knowledge of the natural series of thoughts, so as to distinguish, not merely the thought which will be the immediate or near effect of what is said or done, but those which may arise still more remotely; and he is the most successful in this art of giving happiness, who sees the future at the greatest distance. It is this foresight acquired by attentive observation of the various characters of mankind in a long intercourse with society, which is the true knowledge of the world; for the knowledge of the mere forms and ceremonies of the world, which is of far easier acquisition, is scarcely worthy of being called a part of it. The essential, and the only valuable part of politeness then, is as truly the result of study of the human mind, as if its minutest rules had formed a regular part of our systems of intellectual and moral philosophy. It is the philosophy indeed of those, who scarcely know that they are philosophizing; because philosophy, to them, implies something which has no other ornaments than diagrams and frightful algebraic characters, laid down in systems, or taught in schools and universities, with the methodical tediousness of rules of grammar; and they are conscious, that all, or the greatest part of what they know, has been the result of their own observation, and acquired in the very midst of the amusements of life. But he, who knows the world, inust have studied the mind of man, or at least-for it is only a partial view of the mind which is thus formed-must have studied it in some of its most striking aspects. He is a practical philosopher, and, therefore, a speculative one also, since he must have founded his rules of action on certain principles, the results of his own observation and reflection. These results are, indeed, usually lost to all but to the individual: and the loss is not to be considered as slight, merely because the knowledge, which thus perishes, has been usually applied by its possessor to frivolous purposes, and sometimes perhaps to purposes still more unworthy. When we read the maxims of La Rochefoucauld, which, false as they would be, if they had been intended to give us a faithful universal picture of the moral nature of man, were unfortunately too faithful a delineation of the passions and principles that immediately surrounded their author, and met his daily view, in the splendid scenes of vanity and ambitious intrigue to which his observation was confined, it is impossible not to feel, that, acute and subtle as they are, many of these maxims must have been only the expression of principles, which were floating, without being fixed in words, in the minds of many of his fellow courtiers; and the instruction, which might be received from those who have been long conversant with mankind, in situations favourable to observation, if, by any possibility, it could be collected and arranged, would probably furnish one of the most important additions which could be made to moral science.

How much politeness consists in knowledge of the natural succession of thoughts and feelings, and a consequent ready foresight of the series of thoughts, which it is in our power indirectly to excite or avert, must have

presented itself in a very striking manner to every one, whose professional duties, or other circumstances, have led him to pay attention to the lower orders of society. The most benevolent of the poor, in situations too in which their benevolence is most strongly excited, as in the sickness of their relations or friends, and in which they exert themselves to relieve obvious pain, with an assiduity of watching and fatigue, after all the ordinary fatigues of the day, that is truly honourable to their tenderness, have yet little foresight of the mere pains of thought; and while, in the same situation, the rich and better educated, with equal, or perhaps even with less benevolence of intention, carefully avoid the introduction of any subject, which might suggest, indirectly, to the sufferer the melancholy images of parting life, the conversation of the poor, around the bed of their sick friend, is such as can scarcely fail to present to him every moment, not the probability merely, but almost the certainty of approaching death. It is impossible to be present, in these two situations, without remarking the benefit of a little knowledge of the human mind, without which, far from fulfilling its real wishes, benevolence itself may be the most cruel of torturers.

The same species of foresight which is essential to the refinements of social intercourse, is equally essential in the active occupations of life, to that knowledge of times and circumstances, which is so important to success; and though this knowledge may be too often abused, to unworthy purposes, by the sordid and the servile, it is not the less necessary to those who pursue only honourable plans, and who avail themselves only of honourable means. Such is the nature of society, that the most generous and patriotic designs still require some conduct to procure for them authority; and, at least in the public situations of life, without a knowledge of the nature both of those who are to govern, and of those who are to be governed, though it may be very easy to wish well to society, the hardest of all tasks will be the task of doing it good.

May I not add, as another salutary moral effect of the science of mind, the tendency which the study of the general properties of our common nature has to lessen that undue veneration, which, in civilized society, must always attend the adventitious circumstances of fortune, and to bring this down, at least some degrees, nearer to that due respect which is indispensable for the tranquillity and good order of a state, and which no wise and patriotic moralist, therefore, would wish to see diminished. It is only in the tumultuous phrensy of a revolution, however, or in periods of great and general discontent, that the respect of the multitude for those who are elevated above them, in rank and fortune, is likely to fall beneath this salutary point. So many of the strongest principles of our nature, favour the excess of it, that, in the ordinary circumstances of society, it must always pass far beyond the point of calm respect; so far beyond it, indeed, that the lesson which the people require most frequently to be taught, is, not to venerate the very guilt and folly of the rich and powerful, because they are the guilt and folly of the rich and powerful. It is to the objects of the idolatry themselves, however, that the study of a science, which considers them as stripped of every adventitious distinction, and possessing only the common virtues and talents of mankind, must be especially salutary. In the ordinary circumstances of a luxurious age, it is scarcely possible for the great to consider themselves as what they truly are; and though, if questioned as to their belief of their common origin with the rest of mankind, they would no doubt

think the question an absurd one, and readily own their descent from the same original parentage; there can be as little doubt, that in the silence of their own mind, and in those hours of vanity and ambition, which, to many of them, are almost the whole hours of life, this tie of common nature is rarely, if ever felt. It is impossible indeed, that it should be often felt, because, in the circumstances in which they are placed, there is every thing to remind them of a superiority, of which their passions themselves are sufficiently ready to remind them, and very little to remind them of an equality, from the contemplation of which all their passions are as ready to turn away. There are, however, some circumstances which are too strong for all these passions to overcome, and which force, in spite of them, upon the mind that self-knowledge which, in other situations, it is easy to avoid. In pain and sickness, notwithstanding all the vain magnificence which the pride of grandeur spreads around the couch, and the profusion of untasted delicacies, with which officious tenderness strives to solicit an appetite that loathes them, he who lies upon the couch within begins to learn his own nature, and sees through the splendour that seems to surround him, as it were, without touching him, how truly foreign it is to that existence, of which before it seemed to form a part. The feeling that he is but a man, in the true sense of that word, as a frail and dependent being like those around him, is one of the first feelings, and perhaps not one of the least painful, which arise in such a situation. The impression, however, of this common nature, is, while it lasts, a most salutary one; and it is to be regretted only that health cannot return without bringing back with it all those flattering circumstances which offer the same seductions as before to his haughty superiority.

The sight of death, or of the great home of the dead, in like manner, seldom fails to bring before us our common and equal nature. In spite of all the little distinctions which a churchyard exhibits, in mimic imitation, and almost in mockery, of the great distinctions of life, the turf, the stone with its petty sculptures, and all the columns and images of the marble monument; as we read the inscription, or walk over the sod, we think only of what lies beneath in undistinguishable equality. There is scarcely any one on whom these two great equalizing objects, sickness and the sight of death, have not produced, for a short time, at least, some salutary moral impression. But these are objects which cannot often occur, and which are accompanied with too many distressing circumstances, to render it desirable that they should be of very frequent occurrence. The study of the mind, of our common moral and intellectual nature, and of those common hopes which await us, as immortal beings, seems in some degree to afford the advantage, without the mixture of evil: for, though in such speculative inquiries, the impression may be less striking than when accompanied with painful circumstances, it is more permanent, because, from the absence of those powerful circumstances, it is more frequently and willingly renewed. In the philosophy of mind, all those heraldic differences which have converted mere human vanity into a science, are as nothing. It is man that is the object of investigation, and man with no distinctions that are adventitious. The feelings, the faculties, which we consider, are endowments of the rich and powerful indeed; but they are endowments also of the meanest of those on whom they look with disdain. It is something, then, for those whose thoughts are continually directed by external circumstances, to that perilous elevation on which they are placed, to be led occasionally, as in VOL. I.


such inquiries they must be, to measure themselves and others without regard to the accidental differences of the heights on which they stand, and to see what it is in which they truly differ, and what it is in which they truly agree.

In the remarks already made, on the study of the science of mind, we have considered its effects on the progress of the other sciences, and on the moral dispositions. But, though the study had no effects of this kind, moral or intellectual, is not the mind itself a part of nature, and, as a mere physical object, deserving of our profoundest and most intent investigation? or shall it be said, that while we strive, not merely to measure the whole earth, and to follow in our thought the revolutions of these great orbs, whose majesty may almost be said to force from us this homage of admiration, but to arrange, in distinct tribes, those animalcular atoms, whose very existence we learn only from the glass through which we view them; the observing and calculating mind itself is less an object of universal science, than the antennæ of an insect, or the filaments of a weed? Would it be no reproach to man, even though he knew all things besides, that he yet knew far less accurately than he might know, his own internal nature,-like voyagers who delight in visiting every coast of the most distant country, without the slightest acquaintance, perhaps, with the interior of their own?

Qui terræ pelagique vias, mundique per omnes
Articulos spatiatur ovans, metasque suorum
Herculeas audet supra posuisse laborum,

Neglectus jacet usque sibi, dumque omnia quærit,
Ipse sui quæsitor abest; incognita tellus

Solus nauta latet, propiorque ignotior orbis.

Would the lines which follow these, if indeed there were any one to whom they were applicable in their full extent, convey praise less high than that which might be given to the observer of some small nerve or membrane, that had never been observed before, or the discoverer of a new species of earth, in some pebble before unanalyzed ?

Tu melior Tiphys, spreto jam Phasidis auro,
In te vela paras, animatos detegis orbes,
Humanasque aperis ausis ingentibus oras.
Jamque novos laxari sinus, animæque latentis
Arcanas reserare vias, cœlosque recessus

Fas aperire tibi, totamque secludere mentem.

To the mind, considered as a mere object of physical inquiry, there is one circumstance of interest, that is peculiar. It is the part of our mixed nature which we have especially in view as often as we think of self,-that by which we began to exist, and continue to exist, by which in every moment of our being, we have rejoiced, and hoped, and feared, and loved; or rather, it is that which has been itself, in all our emotions, the rejoicer, the hoper, the fearer. To inquire into the history of the mind, therefore, is in truth to look back, as far as it is permitted to us to look back, on the whole history of our life. It is to think of those many pleasing emotions which delighted us when present, or of those sadder feelings, which when considered as past, become delightful, almost like the feelings that were in themselves originally pleasing, and in many cases, are viewed with still greater interest. We cannot attempt to think of the origin of our knowledge, without bringing before us scenes and persons most tenderly familiar;

and though the effect of such remembrances is perhaps less powerful, when the mind is prepared for philosophical investigation, than in moments in which it is more passive, still the influence is not wholly lost. He must be a very cold philosopher indeed, who, even in intellectual analysis, can retrace the early impressions of his youth, with as little interest as that with which he looks back on the common occurrences of the past day.

But it is not any slight interest which it may receive from such peculiar remembrances, that can be said to give value to the philosophy of mind. It furnishes, in itself, the sublimest of all speculations, because it is the philosophy of the sublimest of all created things. "There is but one object," says St. Augustine, "greater than the soul, and that one is its Creator." "Nihil est potentius illa creatura quæ mens dicitur rationalis, nihil est sublimius. Quicquid supra illam est jam Creator est." When we consider the powers of his mind, even without reference to the wonders which he has produced on earth, what room does man afford for astonishment and admiration! His senses, his memory, his reason, the past, the present, the future, the whole universe, and, if the universe have any limits, even more than the whole universe, comprised in a single thought; and, amid all these changes of feelings that succeed each other, in rapid and endless variety, a permanent and unchangeable duration, compared with which, the duration of external things is but the existence of a moment.

"O what a patrimony this! a being

Of such inherent strength and majesty,

Not worlds possest can raise it; worlds destroy'd
Not injure; which holds on its glorious course,
When thine, O Nature, ends!"t

Such, in dignity and grandeur, is the mind considered, even abstractedly. But when, instead of considering the mind itself, we look to the wonders which it has performed-the cities, the cultivated plains, and all the varieties of that splendid scene to which the art of man has transformed the deserts, and forests, and rocks of original nature; when we behold him, not limiting the operations of his art to that earth to which he seemed confined, but bursting through the very elements, that appeared to encircle him as an insurmountable barrier-traversing the waves-struggling with the winds, and making their very opposition subservient to his course; when we look to the still greater transformations which he has wrought in the moral scene, and compare with the miseries of barbarous life, the tranquillity and security of a well ordered state; when we see, under the influence of legislative wisdom, insurmountable multitudes obeying, in opposition to their strongest passions, the restraints of a power which they scarcely perceive, and the crimes of a single individual marked and punished, at the distance of half the earth; is it possible for us to observe all these wonders, and yet not feel some curiosity to examine the faculties by which they have been wrought, some interest in a being so noble, that leads us to speculate on the future wonders which he may yet perform, and on the final destiny which awaits him? This interest we should feel, though no common tie connected us with the object of our admiration; and we cannot surely admit that the object of our admiration is less interesting to us, or less sublime in nature, because the faculties which we admire are those which ourselves possess, and the wonders such as we are capable of achieving and surpassing.

Can't injure. Orig.

+ Young's Night Thoughts, VI. v. 535–539.

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