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should have thus descended to debase and insult, what it should have been proud to exalt and to protect*.
The religion, then, and philosophy of Greece and Italy, afford the most striking evidence of moral insufficiency. That the poets and the scholars who adorned those illustrious countries in ancient times, announced to mankind principles and maxims of distinguished wisdom; that every sect, without exception, produced great men, and inculcated noble precepts; that Zeno, Epictetus, Plato, Socrates, Marcus Antoninus, and Aristotle, constituted but a small portion of that constellation of genius and of wisdom which shed so much lustre on Rome and Athens, it would be vain and ungrateful to deny. But while we admit and rejoice in the occasional brightness, we may not forget the glooms by which it was so frequently obscured.
“ Non ex singulis “ vocibus philosophi spectandi sunt, sed ex perpe“ tuetate atque constantia .” We are not to judge the philosopher by the casual and insulated sentences which he may utter, but by the general tenor of his doctrines; and if we have discovered in the volumes of the ancient schools, the most signal inconsistencies and contradictions, the most pernicious intermixture
• I have adverted but slightly, in the preceding remarks, to the preceptive wisdom of Socrates. Plato and Xenophon have done justice to it, and the task was worthy of their genius. - If, however, I could experience a pleasure in sullying the honours with which the name of the first moralist of antiquity has been distinguished, I might not find it difficult, perhaps, to produce passages from the writings of his disciples, which would answer my purpose. The excellent translator of Aristophanes, Mr. Mitchel, has taught us to measure with accuracy the defects and merits of the illustrious Athenian.
+ Tuscul. Disput. lib. v. c. 9. See also, De Finib. lib. ii. C. 22, 26.
of truth and falsehood, the most wild and wanton perversion of great powers to evil purposes, it may be permitted us to conclude that the moral wisdom of Greece and Rome was inadequate as it was proud, frail as it was dogmatic, and far more likely to deceive and corrupt, than to illuminate and purify the heart.
The Hindu religion, like every other, occasionally wise in its moral
precepts, and in its motives- Admirable maxims—Circumscribed in their utility by the manner in which they are announced, and counteracted in their influence by the temper of the religion which recommends them- The apathy of abstraction preferred to the works of virtue-False and partial estimate of morals-Celestial precedent-Cruelty to the outcast-Obscenity of the temples - Inconsistency and corruption.
“ HE, my servant,” says Krishnu, “is dear to me, “ who is free from enmity, merciful, humble, patient “ of wrongs, resigned in sorrow. The man who per“ forms all the duties of life, trusting the issue to " the goodness of Brama, remaineth, like the leaf of “ the lotos, stable amid the waters. Let the virtue “ be in the deed, not in the event. Exercise hospita
lity, even to an enemy who enters into thy house,
as the tree doth not withdraw its shade from the “ wood-cutter. Good men extend their charity to " the vilest animals; the Moon doth not withhold her
light even from the cottage of the Chandala. Is “ this man one of us, or is he a stranger? Such is “ the reasoning of the ungenerous and cruel ; but to “ the good man the whole world is one family. True
charity implies a heart free from worldly impurity; “ without purity all pretensions to that charity are
“ vain *. It is essential to real benevolence not to
envy the possessions of another, and not to suffer “ the pursuit of gain to corrupt the heart, the temper,
or the tongue. Do not fondly say to yourself, “ When I advance in years I will then practise bene“ volence; and why? because life is uncertain, and
passeth away like water poured into a broken “ vessel; therefore exercise thyself at the present
moment, and at the hour of death thy prayers shall “ be heard. Never forget him whose friendship has “ been extended to thee in the day of thy calamity; “ but remember him, if possible, in the seven stages “ of thine existence; for to forget a benefit received “ is infamous, but instantly to cast away the recol“ lection of injury is noble. If he who has rendered “ you a disinterested service, should afterwards do
you a mortal injury, forget the injury, remember " the service. The good father of a family, though “a mere mortal, is a fit companion for the Daivers, “and shall be found duly prepared for the world of 66 bliss. The sweetest tones of the flute or viol are « less melodious to a parent's ear than the simple “ music of an infant's prattle. A good child is to “ be considered as a treasure, first, as being the im« mediate recompence of his father's good deeds; “ secondly, because the parent's fame and happiness “ will be improved by the virtue of his offspring. No “ sensation is so gratifying as that of the soft cheeks “ of one's own child, no sound so delightful to his “ mother as the voice of her infant *. . Such is the language of the Hindu moralists; and such are the sentiments which frequently abound in the religious books of the Bramin, and which may not be surpassed, either in the tone in which they are uttered, or in the doctrines which they enforce, by the best and brightest precepts of the Academician, or the Stoic, of ancient Greece.
* This maxim is as just as it is beautiful. If the heart be corrupted by worldly pleasures, it will be selfish and contracted ; if devoted to worldly interests, it will be proportionally estranged from sympathy and compassion; if agitated by worldly strife and.competition, it will be envious, malignant and unmerciful. What can be expected from a heart thus occupied and distracted by the world? And can charity take root and bring forth fruits in such a soil?
But, whatever be the reason of man, the passions of the heart, at once the glory and the shame of human nature, are perpetually mingling with and per: verting its discussions; and, by the errors into which it is thus betrayed, on the most important, as well as on the most insignificant topics, we are admonished to temper with salutary caution our reliance on a guide whose firmest step is so insecure, and whose proudest wisdom is so frail.
The reason of the Hindu is, like that of all other mortals, subject to this perversion and this infirmity. It excites our admiration of the wisdom and energy which it occasionally displays; but our admiration terminates in astonishment at the inconsistency and weakness with which it varies in its estimate of crime, and in its precepts of virtue. : 1. In adverting to the lessons of morality by which the Braminical religion has been enriched and adorned, we are, first, to observe that they are circumscribed, in their utility, by the manner in which they have been announced. They are scattered through the
of various volumes difficult of ac
“ Ocean of Wisdom,” in Kin
Bagvat Geeta. pp. 40, 44. dersley's Sketches, &c.
céss, and of ambiguous authority. Sometimes, they are said to have issued directly from the lips of the gods, sometimes to have been promulgated by the inspired favourites of heaven, or compiled from the ample stores of sacred tradition. They are, nevertheless, perpetually blended with the wildest doctrines of absurdity and error. The passions, which they might otherwise purify and guide, are kindled by the tenets and observances of a sanguinary and a libertine superstition; and he who attends the rites of the demon of Juggernaut, can scarcely be prepared to practise precepts, if he could collect them, which
may inculcate the purity and necessity of virtue.
II. By the moral code of the Bramin, charity, as we have seen, is represented as the most essential of all duties. Yet the voice which proclaims and extols the maxim, sanctions, as a virtue of higher and more holy obligation, the unperforming apathy of ascetic life. He may be wise who goes forth among sentient beings to protect or bless them ; but the man of the most exalted wisdom, is he, who, careless of all other things, retires to waste his days in the solitudes of woods and deserts. Such a person, wandering over the earth in silence and abstraction, or lingering away his life at the root of a tree, or in the glooms of a cell, and subduing all the better feelings and affections of his nature, acquires perfection in this world, and secures felicity in the next; and thus the great law of moral wisdom, which, binding man to man, and including each and all within the circumference of universal brotherhood, requires beneficent actions as the best test of obedience, and the most acceptable to heaven; is opposed and superseded, in the religion of the Bramin, by that which says to man, Be human no more, retire from all the gracious offices of life,