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But none of these comparisons can be freely and fairly made, because the passion for liberty is supreme, and constrains the senses; it is the beginning and end of the argument, the axiom and theorem, the postulate and problem:-we are slaves to liberty. The truth is, that none of these accidents of life, these constructions of society, are supremely important. A man's place or position has little to do with his freedom or happiness, and the impediment of birth cannot easily prevent the highest talent and merit from becoming prominent; and for the struggles of moderate talent to attain to promi
ence by its own efforts, without assistance, there is no misery equal to it. The patriarchs of Scripture history were not prevented from attaining to objects much higher than their highest expectations, by the most adverse and humiliating circumstances, or by their entire absence of ambition and effort after distinction. Great merit will generally find its place and use, without the spur of vanity and ambition, and in spite of the most depressing weight of difficulty. The meek shall possess the earth. But this the world can not believe. Or in profane story, did Socrates's greatness or death depend upon his rank or position; or has Æsop a less enviable fame because he was born a slave and crooked; or was Raphael less great for the patronage and power of a despotic prelate; or our own Shakspeare, did he live and write under less advantages, because he was of humble origin and rank, and because play-writers were then so little esteemed, or so few titles dispensed, that he was never knighted ? Institutions have less to 'do
with these things than is imagined. If parliaments and the people were to apply themselves to become virtuous and religious, the kings also would become better and more religious, or act as being so; and the people would rise to or 'remain each of them in their proper position, and be much more happy in it, in spite of obeying the Christian precept, and choosing the lowest place. But liberty has emancipated us from God's wisdom, and God's law. We have set up a wisdom for ourselves. Therefore our wills and passions have become our rule of action. Our appetites and desires are all enshrined and consecrated. Ambition, as one of the strongest, is made a virtue and a merit; is admired in private life, and must be provided for in the state. — Liberty is licentiousness.
Another licence which is given to appetite under this freedom from God's law, is in respect of money-making. Money-making is a virtue and merit in each private person; and it is a still greater virtue in the state. In Rome, valour was virtue; the same in the individual as in the commonwealth ; for the character and principles of the two are always alike. In England, a man's riches show what" he is worth ;” a man of wealth and worldly substance is “a good man;" he is “doing well,” and is “ thought well of.” - In the state, finance is the great principle of policy; that branch of the legislature governs the country which holds the purse. Money is the great engine of war, the great desideratum in peace;" political economy therefore is the great science of good government, and best qualifies a minister to
direct immortal man, the image of God, the delight and wonder of angels and of the universe, to the great end of his existence, here, and in his passage to an hereafter;-and this science proclaims, that the great key to unlock this treasure, and to the attainment of this object, is to give the people free liberty, to leave trading people to themselves : to give avarice its head. --Avarice is a virtue.
Luxury also is a virtue.--" There is no such thing as luxury!” Wolsey was accused of luxury, because he had clean rushes laid upon his floors every day. When coaches first came into use, it was said that they would weaken our warlike power ; that the breed of horses would go down; and that men would grow effeminate. The sale of pins was restricted to two days in the week, in Elizabeth's reign, to discourage this luxury. That which is a luxury one day is a necessary the next; therefore it is mistaken to call anything luxury, or a culpable extravagance. There is no palace too grand, or gilding too profuse, or viands too dainty or many, or furniture too magnificent, or dress too costly or meretricious ;-nor can the amount and frequency of these things be too great,-nor the habit too enervating,nor the use too indulgent. The employment of the poor depends upon our ease and idleness ; their sufficiency upon our profusion ; their comfort upon our in-. dulgence; their gain upon our lavishing as much as possible upon ourselves; their health upon our surfeit. —Therefore sensuality is a virtue. *
* Mandeville was one of the first openly to avow this libertine doc
It has not occurred to these wise heads, that according to their own theory, at least, it does not matter whether our money is spent upon articles of enjoyment or use, upon ourselves or upon others,- for that in the one way or the other the money is sure to find its way into the pockets of the poor, as the wages of labour. But liberty and licence has blinded us to every side but one of this and every other truth. Self has got free, and reigns tyrannically over us; and directs us how and where it will, according to the dictates of our passions and appetites. In short, liberty is selfishness and self in everything :-it is self in morals, self in private life, self in politics, self in religion and religious doctrine, it is self in everything. Liberty is the very spirit of the evil one ;—and is come up like the frogs of Egypt over the whole land, upon the prince, the people, and the servants,-into the houses, into the beds, into trine of political philosophy, in his fable of the Bees. He thus wantonly deals with and sums up the arguments on this subject:
6. The root of evil avarice,
That d—d ill-natured baneful vice,
very wheel that turned the trade." He writes so sarcastically in support of vice, that one might almost think that he felt a virtuous disgust at it.
the ovens, and into the kneading troughs, and into the king's chambers.
Conceit is a virtue. -We ought to have a good opinion of ourselves. Modesty is mean and pusillanimous. Humility is contemptible. The dignity and capacity of man,—the vast progress he is making, his rapid advance towards perfection, — his perfectibility,—his free will and power over himself,—these are the favourite and popular topics; and any one who doubts them is indicted of treason against the rights of man, and the majesty of human nature. We must not be so mean as to say, there is anything beyond our capacity; that there is anything so deep that it must be to us unfathomable; that there is anything so high which we cannot understand; that there is any research vain, or any knowledge useless to us, or likely to lead us astray, or of more cost to acquire than be.' nefit to us.
Even religion is within the province of enlightened reason; the mysteries of religious truth are open to us.
We must, in this advanced age of the world, understand more of it than any one else; we only assert the rights of age, and the maturity of reason ;-we, we are wise, we are the men, we are wisdom.
It is said, therefore, of necessary consequence, that Christianity is but a step :--that it is a doctrine accommodated to a less enlightened age of the world ;-and as religions are always accommodated to the state and minds of the people to whom they are given, so a much more perfect system is in store for us, in this wise and