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is capable of producing uncommon benefit; he that has them not, is destitute even of the power, A tool with a fine edge may do mischief; but tool that neither has an edge nor can receive it, is merely lumber,
Again ; the virtues of a weak and ignorant man scarcely deserve the name. They possess it by way of courtesy only. I call such a man good, somewhat in the same way as I would call my dog good. My dog seems attached to me; but change his condition, and he would be as much attached to the stupidest dunce, or the most cankered villain. His attachment has no discrimination in it; it is merely the creature of habit.
Just so human virtues without discrimination, are no virtues. The weak man neither knows whom he ought to approve nor whom to disapprove. Dazzled by the lustre of uncommon excellence, he is frequently one of the first to defame it. He wishes me well. But he does not know how to benefit me. He does not know what benefit is. He does not understand the nature of happiness or good. He cannot therefore be very zealous to promote it. He applies as much ardour to the thought of giving me a trinket, as to the thought of giving me liberty, magnanimity and independence.
The idea of withholding from me capacity, left I should abuse it, is just as rational, as it would be to shut me up in prison, left by going at large I should be led into mischief.
I like better to be a man than a brute; and my preference is juft. A man is capable of giving more and enjoying more. By parity of reason I had rather be a man with talent, than a man without. I shall be so much more a man, and less a brute. If it lie in my own choice, I shall undoubtedly say, Give me at least the chance of doing uncommon good, and enjoying pleasures uncommonly various and exquisite.
The affairs of man in society are not of fo fimple a texture, that they require only common talents to guide them. Tyranny grows up by a kind of necessity of nature; oppression difcovers itself; poverty, fraud, violence, murder, and a thousand evils follow in the rear. There cannot be extirpated without great discernment and great energies. Men of genius moft risc up, to show their brethren that these evils, though familiar, are not therefore the less dreadful, to analyse the machine of human society, to demonstrate how the parts are conneeted together, to explain the immense chain of events and consequences, to point out the defects and the remedy. It is thus only that important reforms
can be produced. Without talents, despotism would be endless, and public misery incessant. Hence it follows, that he who is a friend to general happiness, will neglect no chance of producing in his pupil or his child, one of the longlooked-for saviours of the human race.
It is a question which has but lately entered into philofophical difquisition, whether genius be born with a man, or may be subsequently infused. Hitherto it was considered as a proposition too obvious for controversy, that it was born and could not be infused. This is however by no means obvious.
That some differences are born with children cannot reasonably be denied. But to what do these differences amount? Look at a newborn infant. How unformed and plastic is his body; how simple the features of his mind !
The features of the mind depend upon perceptions, sensations, pleasure and pain. But the perceptions, the pleasures and pains of a child previous to his birth must make a very infignificant catalogue. If his habits at a subsequent period can be changed and corrected by opposite impressions, it is not probable that the habits generated previous to birth can be inaccessible to alteration. If therefore there be any effential and decisive difference in children at the period of birth, it must confist in the structure of their bodies, not in the effects already produced upon their minds. The senses or sensibility of one body may be radically more acute than those of another. We do not find however that genius is inseparably connected with any particular ftructure of the organs of fense. The man of genius is not unfrequently deficient in one or more of these organs; and a very ordinary man may be perfect in them all. Genius however may be connected with a certain ftate of nervous fenfibility originally existing in the frame. Yet the analogy from the external organs is rather unfavourable to this fuppofition. Diffect a man of genius, and you cannot point out those differences in his structure which conTtitute him fuch; still less can you point out original and immutable differences. The whole therefore seems to be a gratuitous assumption.
Genius appears to signify little more in the first instance than a spirit of prying observation and inceffant curiosity. But it is reasonable to fuppose that these qualities are capable of being generated. Incidents of a certain fort in early infancy will produce them; nay, may create them in a great degree cyen at a more advanced