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talents fo precarious and circumfcribed, should ufurp that confidence which can only belong to much fuperior beings, and claim a deference which is due to perfection alone? Surely the greatest arrogance that ever entered into the human heart, is that which not only pretends to be positive itself in points wherein the best and wiieft have disagreed, but looks down with all the infolent fuperiority of contemptuous pity on thofe, whose impartial reafonings have led them into oppofite conclufions.
THERE is nothing, perhaps, more evident than that our intellectual faculties are not formed by one general standard; and contequently that diverfity of opinion is of the very effence of our natures. It seems probable that this disparity extends even to our fenfitive powers; and tho we agree indeed in giving the fame names to certain visible appearances, as whiteness, for instance, to fnow; yet it is by no means demonstration, that the particular body which affects us with that fenfation, raises the fame precife idea in any two perfons who shall happen to contemplate it together. Thus I have often heard you mention your youngest daughter
as being the exact counter-part of her mother: now she does not appear to me to refemble her in any fingle feature. To what can this disagreement in our judgments be owing, but to a difference in the structure of our organs of fight? yet as juftly, Philotes, might you disclaim me for your friend, and look upon me with contempt for not discovering a fimilitude which appears fo evident to your eyes; as any man can abuse or despise another for not apprehending the force of that argument, which carries conviction to his own understanding.
HAPPY had it been for the peace of the world, if our maintainers of systems either in religion or politics, had conducted their feveral debates with the full impreffion of this truth upon their minds. Genuine philofophy is ever, indeed, the leaft dogmatical; and I am always inclined to fufpect the force of that argument, which is obtruded with arrogance and fufficiency.
I AM wonderfully pleased with a paffage I met with the other day in the preface to Mr. Boyle's Philofophical effays; and would recommend that cautious fpirit, by which he profeffes to have conducted himself in
his physical researches, as worthy the imitation of inquirers after truth of every kind.
"PERHAPS you will wonder, fays he, "that in almost every one of the following effays, I should use so often, perhaps, it feems, 'tis not improbable, as arguing a dif"fidence of the truth of the opinions I in-. "cline to; and that I should be fo fhy of laying down principles, and fometimes " of fo much as venturing at explications. "But I muft freely confefs, that having " met with many things of which I could give myself no one probable cause, and "fome things of which feveral causes may "be affigned fo differing, as not to agree "in any thing, unless in their being all of "them probable enough; I have often "found fuch difficulties in fearching into "the caufes and manner of things, and I "am fo fenfible of my own disability to "furmount thofe difficulties, that I dare
fpeak confidently and pofitively of very "few things, except matter of fact, And " when I venture to deliver any thing by way of opinion, I should, if it were not " for mere shame, fpeak yet more diffi
dently than I have been wont to do, Nor, "have my thoughts been altogether idle" in forming notions and attempting to de"vife hypotheses. But I have hitherto (tho "not always, yet not unfrequently) found
that what pleafed me for a while, was "foon after disgraced by fome farther or "new experiment. And, indeed, I have "the lefs envied many (for I fay not all) "of those writers who have taken upon "them to deliver the caufes of things, and "explicate the mysteries of nature, fince I "have had the opportunity to obferve how many of their doctrines, after having "been for a while applauded and even ad"mired, have afterwards been confuted by "fome new phænomenon in nature which "was either unknown to fuch writers, or "not fufficiently confidered by them.'
If positiveness could become any man in any point of mere fpeculation, it must have been this truly noble philofopher when he was delivering the refult of his ftudies in a fcience, wherein, by the united confeffion of the whole world, he fo eminently excelled. But he had too much generosity to prescribe his own notions as a measure to the
the judgment of others, and too much good fense to affert them with heat or confidence.
WHOEVER, Philotes, pursues his fpeculations with this humble unarrogating temper of mind, and with the best exertion of those faculties which Providence has affigned him; tho he should not find the conviction, never, furely, can he fail of the reward of truth. I am, &c.
To PALAMEDE S.
F malice had never broken loose upon the world, till it feized your reputation, I might reasonably condole with you on falling the first prey to its unrestrained rage. But this spectre has haunted merit almost from its earliest existence: and when all mankind were as yet included within a fingle family, one of them, we know, rofe up in malignity of foul against his innocent brother. Virtue, it fhould feem therefore, has now been too long acquainted with this her conftant perfecutor, to be either terrified