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presumption to foretel, that, unless the improvement of the human species shall prove rapid beyond all former example, the same dispute about the character of Johnson will remain a century hence, and the posterity will be still unborn that are to pass an unanimous verdict upon his merits.

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ESSAY IX.

OP DIFFERENCE IN OPINION.

SECT. I.

One of the best practical rules of morality that ever was delivered, is that of putting ourselves in the place of another, before we act or decide

any thing respecting him. It is by this means only that we can form an adequate idea of his pleasures and pains. The nature of a being, the first principle of whose existence is sensation, neceffarily obliges us to refer every thing to ourselves; and, but for the practice here recommended, we should be in danger of looking upon the concerns of others with inadvertence, confequently with indiffer

ence.

Nor is this voluntary transmigration less neceflary, to enable us to do juflice to other men's motives and opinions, than to their feelings.

Wc observe one mode of conduct to be that which, under certain given circumstances, as

argument; and, till this is done, it must be equally difficult to do justice to an antagonist's integrity. Ask a man, who has been the auditor of an argument, or who has recently read a book, adverse to his own habits of thinking, to refiate the reasonings of the adversary. You will find him betraying the cause he undertakes to explain, in every point. He exhibits nothing but a miserable deformity, in which the most vigilant adversary could scarcely recognise his image. Nor is there any dishonesty in this. He tells you as much as he understood. Since therefore he underliands nothing of the adversary but his opposition, it is no wonder that he is virulent in his invective against him.

The ordinary strain of partisans, are like the two knights, of whom we are told that, in coming in opposite directions to a head fixed on a polc in a cross-way, of which one side was gold, and the other silver, they immediately fell to tilting; the right-hand champion stoutly maintaining that the head was gold, and the other as indignantly rejoining that it was filver. Not one disputant in ten ever gives himself the trouble to pass over to his adversary's position ; and, of those that do, many take so short and timid a glance, and with an organ so clouded with prejudice, that, for any benefit they receive,

they

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incline him to one side rather than the other; but not with the impetuosity, with which from time to time it incites us to action. Temptation there may be.; but of so sober and methodical a sort, that we do not easily believe, that its march can go undetected, or that the mind of the man who does not surmount it, can possess any considerable share of integrity or good faith.

No sentiment therefore is more prevalent, than that which leads men to ascribe the variations of opinion which subfist in the world, to dishonesty and perverseness. It is thus that a Papist judges of a Protestant, and a Protestant of a Papilt; such is the decision of the Hanoverian upon the Jacobite, and the Jacobite upon the Hanoverian ; such the notion formed by the friend of establishments concerning the republican, and by the republican concerning the friend of establishments. The chain of evidence by which every one of these parties is determined, appears, to the adherent of that party, so clear and satisfactory, that he hesitates not to pronounce, that perverseness of will only could resist it.

This fort of uncharitableness was to be expected under the present condition of human intellcct. No character is more rare than that of a inan who can do justice to his antagonist's

argument;

rarely venture abroad in the world. Much of family diffenfion, much of that which

generates alienation in the kindest bosoms, much even of the wars which have hitherto desolated mankind, would be swept away for ever from the face of the earth. There is nothing about which men quarrel more obftinately and irreconcilably, than difference of opinion. There is nothing that engenders a profounder and more inveterate hate.

If this subject were once understood, we should then look only to the consequences of opinions, We should no more think of hating a man for being an atheist or a republican, though these opinions were exactly opposite to our own, than for having the plague. We should pity him ; and regret the necessity, if necessity there were, for taking precautions against him. In the mean time there is this difference between a man holding erroneous opinions, and a man infected with contagious distemper. Mistaken opinions are perhaps never a source of tumult and disorder, unless the persons who hold them are persecuted*, or placed under circumsiances of iniquitous oppression. The remedy therefore in this case,

is * As at the period of the Reformation. to As in the period preceding the French Revolution, where

the

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