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The blossoms that array the branches, the flowers that embroider the mead, address and entertain our eyes with every charm of beauty: whereas, to other creatures, they ane destitute of all those attractions, which result from a combination of the loveliest colours, and the most alluring forms. Yonder streams, that glide with smooth serenity, along the valleys, glittering to the distant view, like sheets of polished crystal, or soothing the attentive ear, with the softness of aquatic murmurs, are not less exhilarating to the fancy, than refreshing to the soil through which they pass. The huge, enormous mountain; the steep and dizzy precipice; the pendant horrors of the craggy promontory, wild ard awful as they are, furnish an agreeable entertainment to the human mind; and please even while they amaze: whereas, the beasts take no other notice of those majestic deformities, than to avoid the dangers they threaten.
How wonderfully do such considerations exalt our idea of the Creator's goodness, his very distinguishing goodness to mankind! And should they not proportionably endear that eternal Benefactor to our hearts? His ever bountiful hand, has, with profuse liberality, scattered blessings among all the ranks of animated existence. But to us he exercises a beneficence of a very superior kind. We are treated with peculiar attention. We are admitted to scenes of delight, which none but ourselves are capable of relishing.
Another remark, though very obvious, is equally important. The destination of all these external things is no less advantageous, than their formation is beautiful. The bloom which engages the eye with its delicate hues, is cherishing the embryo fruit; and forming, within its silken folds, the rudiments of a future dessert.-Those streams which shine from afar, like fluid silver, are much more valuable in their productions, and beneficial in their services, than they are Beautiful in their appearance. They distribute, as they roll along their winding banks, cleanliness to our houses, and fruitfulness to our lands. They nourish, and at their own expense, a never-failing supply of the finest fish. They visit our cities, and attend our wharves, as so many public vehicles, ready to set out at all hours.
Those sheep, which give their udders to be drained by the busy frisking lambs, are fattening their flesh for our support; and while they fill their own fleeces, are providing
for our comfortable clothing. Yonder kine, some of which are browsing upon the tender herb, others, satiated with pasturage, and ruminating under the shady covert, though conscious of no such design, are concocting, for our use, one of the softest, purest, most salutary of liquors. The bees that fly humming about our seat, and pursue their work on the fragrant blossoms, are collecting balm and sweetness, to compose the richest of syrup; which, through the produce of their toil, is intended for our good. Nature and her whole family, are our obsequious servants, our ever-active labourers. They bring the fruits of their united industry, and pour them into our lap, or deposit them in our store-rooms.
Who can ever sufficiently admire this immense benignity? -The Supreme Disposer of events has commanded delight and profit to walk hand in hand, through his ample creation, making all things so perfectly pleasing, as if beauty were their only end; yet all things so eminently serviceable, as if usefulness had been their sole design.-And, as a most winning invitation to our gratitude, he has rendered man the centre, in which all the emanations of his beneficence, diffused through this terrestrial system, finally terminate.
CADMUS AND HERCULES.
Importance of Literature.
Do you pretend to sit as high on Olympus as Hercules? Did you kill the Nemean lion, the Erymanthean boar, the Lernean serpent, and Stymphalian birds? Did you destroy tyrants and robbers? you value yourself greatly on subduing one serpent: I did as much as that while I lay in my cradle.
It is not on account of the serpent that I boast myself a greater benefactor to Greece than you. Actions should be valued by their utility, rather than their splendour. I taught Greece the art of writing, to which laws owe their precision and permanency. You subdued monsters; I civilized men.
It is from untamed passions, not from wild beasts, that the greatest evils arise to human society. By wisdom, by art, by the united strength of civil community, men have been enabled to subdue the whole race of lions, bears, and serpents; and, what is more, to bind by laws and wholesome regulations, the ferocious violence and dangerous treachery of the human disposition. Had lions been destroyed only in single combat, men had had but a bad time of it; and what but laws could awe the men who killed the lions? The genuine glory, the proper distinction of the rational species, arise from the perfection of the mental powers. Courage is apt to be fierce, and strength is often exerted in acts of oppression but wisdom is the associate of justice. It assists her to form equal laws, to pursue right measures, to correct power, protect weakness, and to unite individuals in a common interest and general welfare. Heroes kill tyrants, but it is wisdom and laws that prevent tyranny and oppression. The operations of policy far surpass the labours of Hercules, preventing many evils which valour and might cannot even redress. You heroes regard nothing but glory; and scarcely consider whether the conquests which raise your fame, are really beneficial to your country. Unhappy are the people who are governed by valour not directed by prudence, and not mitigated by the gentle arts!
I do not expect to find an admirer of my strenuous life, in the man who taught his countrymen to sit still and read; and to lose the hours of youth and action in idle speculation and the sport of words.
An ambition to have a place in the registers of fame, is the Eurystheus which imposes heroic labours on mankind. The muses incite to action, as well as entertain the hours of repose; and I think you should honour them for presenting to heroes so noble a recreation, as may prevent their taking up the distaff, when they lay down the club.
Wits as well as heroes can take up the distaff. think you of their thin-spun systems of philosophy, or lascivious poems, or Milesian fables? Nay, what is still worse, are there not panegyrics on tyrants, and books that blaspheme the gods, and perplex the natural sense of right and wrong? I believe if Eurystheus were to set me to work again, he would find me a worse task than any he imposed;
he would make me read over a great library; and I would serve it as I did the Hydra, I would burn as I went on, that one chimera might not rise from another, to plague mankind. I should have valued myself more on clearing the library, than on cleansing the Augean stables.
It is in those libraries only that the memory of your labour exists. The heroes of Marathon, the patriots of Thermopyla owe their fame to me. All the wise institutions of lawgivers, and all the doctrines of sages, had perished in the ear, like a dream related, if letters had not preserved them. O Hercules! it is not for the man who preferred virtue to pleasure, to be an enemy to the muses. Let Sardanapalus and the silken sons of luxury, who have wasted life in inglorious ease, despise the records of action, which bear no honourable testimony to their lives: but true merit, heroic virtue, should respect the sacred source of lasting honour.
Indeed, if writers employed themselves only in recording the acts of great men, much might be said in their favour. But why do they trouble people with their meditations? Can it be of any consequence to the world what an idle man has been thinking?
Yes it may. The most important and extensive advantages mankind enjoy, are greatly owing to men who have never quitted their closets. To them mankind are obliged for the facility and security of navigation. The invention of the compass has opened to them new worlds. The knowledge of the mechanical powers has enabled them to construct such wonderful machines, as perform what the united labour of millions, by the severest drudgery, could not accomplish. Agriculture too, the most useful of arts, has received its share of improvement from the same source. Poetry likewise is of excellent use, to enable the memory to retain with more ease, and to imprint with more energy upon the heart, precepts and examples of virtue. From the little root of a few letters, science has spread its branches over all nature, and raised its head to the heavens. Some philosophers have entered so far into the counsels of Divine Wisdom, as to explain much of the great operations of nature. The dimensions and distances of the planets, the causes of their revolutions, the path of comets, and the ebbing and flowing of tides, are understood and explained. Can any thing raise
the glory of the human species more, than to see a little creature, inhabiting a small spot, amidst innumerable worlds, taking a survey of the universe, comprehending its arrangement, and entering into the scheme of that wonderful connexion and correspondence of things so remote, and which it seems a great exertion of Omnipotence to have established? What a volume of wisdom, what a noble theology do these discoveries open to us? While some superior geniuses have soared to these sublime subjects, other sagacious and diligent minds have been inquiring into the most minute works of the Infinite Artificer: the same care, the same providence, is exerted through the whole; and we should learn from it, that, to true wisdom, utility and fitness appear per fection, and whatever is beneficial is noble.
I approve of science as far as it is assistant to action. I Kike the improvement of navigation, and the discovery of the greater part of the globe, because it opens a wider field for the master spirits of the world to bustle in.
There spoke the soul of Hercules. But if learned men are to be esteemed for the assistance they give to active minds in their schemes, they are not less to be valued for their endeavours to give them a right direction, and moderate their too great ardour. The study of history will teach the legislator by what means states have become powerful; and in the private citizen, they will inculcate the love of liberty and order. The writings of sages point eut a private path of virtue; and show that the best empire is self-government, and that subduing our passions is the noblest of conquests.
The true spirit of heroism acts by a generous impulse, and wants neither the experience of history, nor the doctrines of philosophers to direct it. But do not arts and sciences render men effeminate, luxurious, and inactive? and can you deny that wit and learning are often made subservient to very bad purposes?
* I will own that there are some natures so happily formed, they scarcely want the assistance of a master, and the rules of art, to give them force or grace in every thing they do. But these favoured geniuses are few. As learning flourishes only where ease, plenty, and mild government subsist; in so