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a talent for business, or for any of the practical arts of life, without actual experience. They shew also, that mere experience, without theory, may qualify a man, in certain cases, for distinguishing himself in both. It is not, however, to be imagined, that in this way individuals are to be formed for the uncommon, or for the important situations of society, or even for enriching the arts by new inventions ; for, as their address and dexterity are founded entirely. on imitation, or derived from the lessons which experience has suggested to them, they cannot possibly extend to new combinations of circumstances. Mere experience, therefore, can, at best, prepare the mind for the subordinate departments of life; for conducting the established routine of business, or for a servile repetition in the arts of common operations.
In the character of Mr. George Grenville, which Mr. Burke introduced in his celebrated Speech on American Taxation, a lively picture is drawn of the infufficiency of mere experience to qualify a man for new and untried situations in the administration of government.
The observations he makes on this subject, are expressed with his usual beauty and felicity of language ; and are of so general a nature, that, with some trifling alterations, they may be extended to all the practical pursuits of life.
“ Mr. Grenville was bred to the law, which
is, in my opinion, one of the first and noblest of “ human sciences ; a science which does more to “ quicken and invigorate the understanding, than u all the other kinds of learning put together ; but " it is not apt, except in persons very happily born,
" to open and to liberalise the mind exactly in the “ fame proportion. Passing from that study, he did “ not go very largely into the world, but plunged 9 into business; I mean, into the business of office, 46 and the limited and fixed methods and forms “ established there. Much knowledge is to be had, “ undoubtedly, in that line; and there is no know“ ledge which is not valuable. But it may be truly " said, that men too much conversant in office, are “ rarely minds of remarkable enlargement. Their “ habits of office are apt to give them a turn to think 56 the substance of business not to be much more “ important, than the forms in which it is con, “ ducted. These forms are adapted to ordinary « occafions; and, therefore, persons who are nurtured “ in office, do admirably well, as long as things go “ on in their common order ; but when the high “ roads are broken up, and the waters out, when a “ new and troubled scene is opened, and the file « affords no precedent, then it is, that a greater
knowledge of mankind, and a far more extensive “ comprehension of things, is requisite, than ever “ office gave, or than office can ever give."
Nor is it in new combinations of circumstances alone, that general principles affist us in the conduct of affairs; they render the application of our practical skill more unerring, and more perfect. For, as general principles limit the utility of practical skill to supply the imperfections of theory, they diminish the number of cases in which this skill is to be employed; and thus, at once, facilitate its improvement, wherever it is requisite ; and lessen the errors to which it is liable, by contracting the field within which it is possible to commit them.
It would appear then, that there are two opposite extremes into which men are apt to fall, in preparing themselves for the duties of active life. The one arises from habits of abstraction and generalisation carried to an excess; the other from a minute, an exclusive, and an unenlightened attention to the objects and events which happen to fall under their actual ex. perience.
In a perfect system of education, care should be taken to guard against both extremes, and to unite habits of abstraction with habits of business, in such a manner as to enable men to consider things, either in general, or in detail, as the occasion may require. Whichever of these habits may happen to gain an undue ascendant over the mind, it will necessarily produce a character limited in its powers, and fitted only for particular ex: ertions. Hence some of the apparent inconsistencies which we may frequently remark in the intellectual capacities of the same person. One man, from an early indulgence in abstract speculation, possesses a know. ledge of general principles, and a talent for general reasoning, united with a fluency and eloquence in the use of general terms, which seem, to the vulgar, to announce abilities fitted for any given situation in life: while, in the conduct of the simplest affairs, he exhibits every mark of irresolution and incapacity. Another not only acts with propriety, and skill, in circumstances which require a minute attention to details, but possesses an acuteness of reasoning, and a facility of expression on all subjects, in which nothing but what is particular is involved ; while, on general topics, he is perfectly unable either to reason, or to judge. It is this last turn of mind, which I think we have, in most instances, in view, when we speak of good sense, or common sense, in opposition to fcience and philosophy. Both philosophy and good sense imply the exercise of our reasoning powers ; and they differ from each other only, according as these powers are applied to particulars or to generals. It is on good sense (in the acceptation in which ! have now explained the term) that the success of men in the inferior walks of life chiefly depends ; but, that it does not always indicate a capacity for abstract science, or for general speculation, or for able conduct in situations which require comprehensive views, is matter even of vulgar remark.
Although, however, each of these defects, has a tendency to limit the utility of the individuals in whom it is to be found, to certain stations in society; no comparison can be made, in point of original value, between the intellectual capacities of the two classes of men to which they characteristically belong. The one is the defect of a vigorous, an ambitious, and a comprehensive genius, improperly directed ; the other, of an understanding, minute and circumscribed in its views, timid in its exertions, and formed for servile imitation. Nor is the former defect, (however difficult it may be to remove it when confirmed by long habit,) by any means so incurable as the latter; for it arises, not from original constitution, but from some fault in early education ; while every tendency to the opposite extreme is more or less characteristical
of a mind, useful, indeed, in a high degree, when confined to its proper sphere, but destined, by the hand that formed it, to borrow its lights from another.
As an additional proof of the natural superiority which men of general views possess over the common drudges in business, it may be farther observed, that the habits of inattention incident to the former, arise in part from the little interest which they take in particular objects and particular occurrences, and are not wholly to be ascribed to an incapacity of attention. When the mind has been long accustomed to the consideration of classes of objects and of comprehensive theorems, it cannot, without some degree of effort, descend to that humble walk of experience, or of action, in which the meanest of mankind are on a level with the greatest. In important situations, accordingly, men of the most general views, are found not to be inferior to the vulgar in their attention to details ; because, the objects and occurrences which such situations present, rouse their paflions, and interest their curiosity, from the magnitude of the consequences to which they lead.
When theoretical knowledge and practical skill are happily combined in the same person, the intellectual '..! power of man appears in its full perfection; and fits him equally to conduct, with a masterly hand, the details of ordinary business, and to contend successfully with the untried difficulties of new and hazardous situations. In conducting the former, mere experience may frequently be a sufficient guide, but experience and speculation must be combined toge