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accidental' difcoveries. Such probably were the firft effays in writing, and working in iron. Suppofe them the effects of contrivance; they were at least contrived by a few individuals; and if they required a fuperiority of understanding or of fpecies in the inventors, thofe inventors, and their defcendents, are the only perfons who can lay claim to the honour of that fuperiority.

That every practice and fentiment is barbarous which is not according to the ufages of modern Europe, feems to be a fundamental maxim with many of our critics and philofophers. Their remarks often put us in mind of the fable of the man and the lion. If negroes or Indians were difpofed to recriminate; if a Lucian or a Voltaire from the coaft of Guinea, or from the Five Nations, were to pay us a vifit; what a picture of European manners might he prefent to his countrymen at his return! Nor would caricatura, or exaggeration, be neceffary to render it hideous. A plain historical account of fome of our most fashionable duellifts, gamblers, and adulterers, (to name no more), would exhibit fpecimens of brutih barbarity and


fottish infatuation, fuch as might vie with any that ever appeared in Kamfchatka, California, or the land of Hottentots.

It is easy to fee, with what views fome modern authors throw out thefe hints to prove the natural inferiority of negroes. But let every friend to humanity pray, that they may be disappointed. Britons are famous for generofity; a virtue in which it is eafy for them to excel both the Romans and the Greeks.

Let it never be faid, that flavery is countenanced by the braveft and moft generous people on earth; by a people who are animated with that heroic paffion, the love of liberty, beyond all nations ancient or modern; and the fame of whose toilfome, but unwearied, perfeverance, in vindicating, at the expence of life and fortune, the facred rights of mankind, will ftrike terror into the hearts of fycophants and tyrants, and excite the admiration and gratitude of all good men, to the lateft pofterity.



Confequences of Metaphyfical Scep



FTER all, it will perhaps be objected to this difcourfe, that I have laid too much stress upon the confequences of metaphysical abfurdity, and represented them as much more dangerous than they are found to be in fact. I fhall be told, that many of the controverfies in metaphyfic are merely verbal; and the errors proceeding from them of so abstract a nature, that philofophers run little rifk, and the vulgar no risk at all, of being influenced by them in practice. It will be said, that I never heard of any man who fell a facrifice to BERKELEY'S fyftem, by breaking his neck over a material precipice, which he had taken for an ideal one; nor of any Fatalift, whofe morals were, upon the whole, more exceptionable than those of the afferters of free agency: in a word, that whatever effect fuch tenets may have upon 3 T


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the understanding, they feldom or never produce any fenfible effects upon the heart. In confidering this objection, I must confine myself to a few topics, for the fubject to which it leads is of vaft extent. The influence of the metaphyfical fpirit upon art, fcience, and manners, would furnish matter for a large treatife. It will fuffice at present to fhow, that metaphyfical errors are not harmless, but may produce, and actually have produced, fome very important and interesting confequences.

I begin with an observation often made, and indeed obvious enough, namely, That happiness is the end of our being; and that knowledge, and even truth itself, are valuable only as they tend to promote it. Every.ufelefs ftudy is a pernicious thing, because it waftes our time, and mifemploys our faculties. To prove that metaphyfical abfurdities do no good, would therefore fufficiently juftify the prefent undertaking. But it requires no profound fagacity to be able to prove a great deal


We acknowledge, however, that all metaphyfical errors are not equally dangerous. There is an obfcurity in the abstract fciences,


fciences, as they are commonly taught, which is often no bad prefervative against their influence. This obfcurity is fometimes unavoidable, on account of the infufficiency of language: fometimes it is owing to the fpiritlefs or flovenly style of the writer and fometimes it is affected as when a philofopher, from prudential confiderations, thinks fit to disguise any occafional attack on the religion or laws of his country, by fome artful equivocation, in the form of allegory, dialogue, or fable*. The style of The Treatife of Human Nature

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* Mr HUME is not unacquainted with this piece of policy. His apology for Atheifm he delivers by the mouth of a friend, in the way of conference, prefaced with a declaration, that though he cannot by any means approve many of the fentiments of that friend, yet he thinks they bear fome relation to the chain of reafoning carried on in his Inquiry concerning Human Nature. He had fomething, it feems, to fay against his Maker, which he modeftly acknowledges to be curious, and worthy of attention, and which he thought, no doubt, to be mighty fmart and clever. To call it what it really is, An attempt to vindicate Atheism, or what he probably thought it, A vindication of Atheifm, feemed dangerous, and might difguft many of his well-meaning readers. He calls it, therefore, An Ejay on a Particular Providence and a Future State, and puts his capital arguments in the mouth of another perfon: thus providing, by the fame 3 T 2 generous,

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