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reputation: your cbligations to hospitality are not the same to a man of tried probity, and to one who has very rude notions of honesty and honour.
We have here supposed degrees of knowledge in morals without opposite opinions ; but in fact, inen hold different systems of ethics, even when their knowledge need not be considered as materially uncqual. It may be doubted whether any two men act upon all the same principles; even when cqually improved in intellect, and equally sincere and well-meaning. To be impatient therefore or disgusted when men do not conduct themselves according to our own particular notions of right and wrong, is to take that for true which is false; is to impose our opinions on all other men; and must
considered as a sure indication of a narrow, bigotted and contracted mind.
Had men therefore no opposite opinions, but only different degrees of knowledge of their duties, such difference would demand great candour as to what should be insisted upon from them; or had they the same knowledge, but only different opinions concerning right and wrong ; such difference of opinion would be a just foundation for kind indulgence and forbearance ; how great then ought. the. allowances to be when men are found to differ so very much as they now do, both in their degrees of knowledge and in their opinions culicerning subjects of morality!
18. But remedies are to be applied to the heart as well as to the understanding. Indeed this is requisite even for the understanding itself; since, as was before observed, settled notions depend in a greut measure upon habitual feelings. Give a new turn to the feelings, and opinions will be found pliable and accommodating. This may not be casily cifected, but it is worth attempting.
Here the first attention must be paid to bodily health : for disorders of the body depress and irritate the mind, and embitter the disposition: those complaints especially, which are untixed, and net well detin, and
which want a name, are apt tu sour the temper ; one reason is, they do not excite the same friendly concern and sympathy with well known disorders, nor are they alleviated by the same hope of recovery: and thus they bring on or heighten, the mental disorder under consideration : which would freequently abate and even die away, thought it had acquired some strength, could its bodily causes be removed. The misfortune is, that disorders in body and mind, are too seldom considered as connected with each other. Amongst bodily disorders which men of some virtue are apt to contract, I know not whether it might not be worth while to specify those arising from luxury and intemperance, when not carried to a degree that is disreputable. There is an insolence attending these, a disatisfaction, a craving, which effectually banishes all mildness; all gentle and Candid benevolence ; and greatly diminishes that Love, which all truly good men bear towards mankind.
19. In providing remedies for misanthropy it might be sometimes of use to make one man-hater the instrument of correcting another. This will be effected the most casily when disgust in two minds has arisen from different circumstances, and in different situations. The first hates the second, and the second hates the first; yet neither of them has any idea that he is an object of hatred: or would receive any pleasure from considering himself in that light. If a contention could be instituted between two man-haters, in order to determine which was the properest object, (for all hatred must have an object,) it might open the eyes of both: and might dispuse them to a compromise and reconciliation, not only with each other, but with their whole species. (e)
20. But the gloominess and malignity of the misanthrope would generally be best dispelled by introducing into his mind some kind of pleasure or enjoyment. The dark cells and caverns of his heart should, if possible be illuminated. His hard congealed austerity should be thawed and melted away.
Yet without some nicety and circumspection the experiment may fail: his moral feelings are become so delicate, that at first there are
but few sorts of pleasure which he could digest. His constitution stands in need of some preparatory expedients. Could his outward circumstances be improved and made more prosperous, that would have a great effect; but in giving general directions that expedient may be dismissed as impracticable : let him, however, change the scene ; absence from the particular objects of his hatred, and from every thing associated with them, will naturally make some of his emotions subside; variety will cheer and enliven him: he will be put out of his course ; he will become more capable of attending to advice, and of accepting assistance; and more open to new impressions ; even to such as are of a pleasing sort.
21. The first pleasure to be administered to the Misanthrope must be of a moral nature; pure and peaceable.He should be engaged in studying the works of the Creation ; in experiments on the various provisions which the author of nature has made for his creatures : though these may be called physical, yet their operation on the heart is moral: we cannot dwell on the beauties and exquisite contrivances of almighty wisdom, and conceive the degree in which we are interested in them, without exciting in ourselves strong moral sentiments; or at least such as are pure, and remote from every thing sensual. By superintending vegetation, a man is naturally induced to fix his thoughts for a length of time on such wisdom and beauty as is here understood. From admiring the works of Nature the transition is not difficult to receiving pleasure from works of Art; the best and most useful of which give moral enjoyment. Could the Misanthrope be conducted so far on his way towards mental sanity as to relish these, he must begin to view some of his own species in a favourable light; as being, in some sort, the sources of his gratification : which would be a great point gained. If he could be prevailed upon to labour, in any way which would be successful and productive, the fruits of his activity would not fail to raise in his mind a pleasing self-complacency: which would be greatly heightened and refined if his industry were exercised in acts of beneficence. And not only in his own employincnts, but in viewing the employments of others, he should dwell chiefly on what is most moral: as on instances of parental
, filial, brotherly love; on acts of friendship; on transactions of benevolent associations; on the comforts of cheerful and contented poverty. These are to be found ; and they should be sought for diligently, by the Misanthrope, and applied to his mind as precious balms. For a considerable time hc should mix only with the more honest and virtuous part of mankind; carefully avoiding the false and profligate; without any attempt to reprove or reform them; as that would excite his indignation, and endanger a relapse. Nor is there any reason to doubt that a sufficient number of worthy persons may be found to answer his purpose. There are many families, in which relatives inay be seen living together upon a kind footing; the members of which faithfully promote each others interests and happiness; affording examples both of the more manly and nuble, and of the more feminine and delicate virtues. To be adopted into one such family, and continue in it till the ruling disposition of it was fully seized, might be sufficient to sweeten the temper of most misanthropcs.
When our patient had recovered his health far enough to have a settled relish for moral pleasure ; he might be presented with some of a religious sort : but rcligion has sometimes been gloomy, or even malignant : lie inust not therefore be left to wander at full liberty cren through all the dispensations of providence ; much less through all the tenets of religious men: he must, Tbilst under medical regulation, confine himself to the more favourable sorts, to such as make the Supreme Being, cven to our narrow conceptions, an object of Love. In the divine benevolence he would find an inexluustible source of saiutary reflexion: which would gradually prepare his inind for wholesome meditation on those parts of the universe which have most the appearance of evil. 23.
Should these remedies succeed so far as to make the fisanthrope feel some degree of satisfactory cheeriilness like the day-star arising in his heart, 2 Pet. i. 1.. he might venture to taste some of the pleasures of
the Imagination, and of the senses : without which his cure would be always incomplete : he would not now either disdain them as mean and vicious; or devour them with too much avidity. They would enliven, and even strengthen him ; as they would take off that softness or seriousness, which usually attends moral and religious pleasures: and euable him to bear the ruder gaity, nay perhaps some of the vices, of the man of the world, as far as the general good of mankind required that they should be born.
24. We may conclude our observations on the subject of misanthropy by observing, that the method here traced out appears as if it would not be wholly unsuccessful. Difficulties would, no doubt, arise in the execution of it, which would serve tences for desisting from it; but the mere attempt to execute it must be productive of much good : and the attempt is always in our power. Our expedients were, to improve our bodily health; to endeavour to rectify our notions ; to apply ourselves to understand the works of the Creation; to aim at acquiring a relish for the more excellent works of art; to associate with the more worthy part of mankind; and to cultivate the Love of the all-perfect Being. These things could not but be useful to us, though they might not produce the full effect which we have had in view ; though, at any particular season, we should still find some remains of gloomy malignity in our dispositions, We hazard no- . thing therefore ; we have much to hope, and nothing to fear. Greater encouragement cannot be given to perseverance, nor can a stronger obligation be imposed to persevere.