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couraged? What mad and incoherent expectations have not been formed, when, to the neglect of Common Sense, men have suffered their minds to be inflamed with some fond and extravagant project? Their imaginations having been once strongly roused, the magnitude of their contrivance has appeared to them to be only equalled by the necessity of accomplishing it. They have forgotten intervening obstacles, overlooked the uncertainty of human affairs, considered success as already ensured, and lost at length in ruinous speculation that wealth and opportunity which in the sober advances of regular employment would have secured to them every object of reasonable ambition. The event has been similar in the concerns of literature. The judgment at any time neglected, what inconsistencies have disgraced the pursuits of the critic, the philosopher, and the divine! It has even been the unhappiness of more than one celebrated name, by the unaccountable fascination of an hypothesis, to waste the finest talents and the richest stores of learning in fruitless industry. Their works may be valuable indeed for their adventitious excellencies, but the object of their labours has long sunk into merited and universal neglect.
The absence of Common Sense has been not less fatally marked in the affairs of nations. The expedition to the Holy Land remains an
uncommon instance of the weakness of the human mind, and of the miseries from which a simple and early recurrence to an unbiassed judgment would have delivered mankind. The conduct of the inhabitants of Munster under the influence of the Anabaptists has, from a similar deficiency, tarnished the annals of the sixteenth century. The condemnation on some parts of the continent of the earlier and more surprising discoveries in anatomy and physiology, as having a tendency to atheism, proceeded from no other source. But every monument of the fatal effects of a dereliction of this faculty with regard to nations, is absorbed by a review of the unparalleled disasters which have so lately distracted Europe. These calamities may be traced indeed to a higher origin; yet if Common Sense had not been disregarded in the general overthrow, the evils which we can now only lament, if they were too impetuous to be prevented, would surely have received some mitigations of their horror. It has accordingly been by a recurrence, however partial or insincere, to this important guide, that any appearances of tranquillity, or any approach to the intercourses of society, promise at length to soften the miseries of innovation.
But, to leave these occasional deficiencies of the faculty of Common Sense, its dependence in general on circumstances of diligent culture
may be accurately observed. Between the same ordinary powers in the inhabitant of a civilized nation, and of one left to its original barbarity, the difference is astonishing. In a savage state, the power of Common Sense seems so languid as to be nearly extinct. The extreme indolence and stupidity of the American Indian almost exceeds belief. He has no foresight beyond the moment, no conceptions of rewards and punishments as motives to action, no ideas except those which are strictly sensible, and no words to express any thing abstract or immaterial. "Their vacant countenance," observes an eminent historian', "their staring unexpressive eye, their listless inattention, and total ignorance of subjects, which seem to be the first which should occupy the thoughts of rational beings, made such an impression on the Spaniards, when they first beheld those rude people, that they considered them as animals of an inferior order, and could not believe that they belonged to the human species."
We need not, however, have recourse to man in a state of nature, in order to illustrate the power which cultivation possesses over the operations of this faculty. In cases drawn from the inhabitants of the same nation, the distinction, though not so considerable, is still great
Dr. Robertson in his History of America, vol. ii. book 4.
and obvious. The man who has spent his life in an obscure hamlet, seems to partake but in a small degree of this general endowment. His mind, oppressed with ignorance, and torpid for want of opportunities of being exercised, appears to have lost those capacities it might have originally possessed. Never called to any intellectual operations, he is incapable of apprehending or comparing ideas, if they rise in any considerable degree above the objects of his gross and uncultivated experience. The worlds of science and literature are to him unknown. The most familiar propositions appear deep and complicated. Yet in this state he is contented with his measure of knowledge, and feels no want and no anxiety for any higher attainments.
To this character how opposite is the situation of multitudes, who, possessing no natural superiority, have been favoured with the advantages of unremitted culture! The emulation of society, the intercourse of literary and polished life, the urgent calls of profession and duty, unite to elevate and expand their mind. Every spark of latent energy is thus elicited, all the powers of the intellect are called forth and excited to enterprise; diligence supplies the ardour, or rivals the exercises, of superior talents; and the man, who in the contracted sphere of a village would have remained in obscurity, brought forth to notice, and placed in a happy
and congenial situation, becomes an important, if not a brilliant, character.
This truth, obvious in the case of individuals, loses none of its force when applied to collective bodies. The general depression of the Common Sense of the inhabitants of Europe, which began with the decline of the Roman empire, and was completed by the irruption of the fierce and barbarous nations of the North, is too well known to require a particular detail. It was not till the thirteenth century that the overwhelming and impenetrable darkness of ignorance and superstition began to be dissipated. For the space of more than six centuries, circumstances, which excite ridicule for their absurdity, or regret on account of their injustice, fill and disgrace the annals of Europe. The trial by judicial combat, the various appeals to accidental circumstances for the decision of the most important causes, the right of private war, the extravagant pretensions of chivalry, the gross and complicated impositions of the Papal See, and the unrelenting vigour of the Feudal System, are only so many outrages on the ordinary judgment of mankind, to which the Christian world were gradually subjugated. To compare these circumstances with the present state of general information in all the nations of Christendom, is sufficient, without any comment, to illustrate the influence which