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ascertained, or limited? If every man is to decide for himself and the world, confusion, and universal ruin must ensue.
Neodidactus. You speak, Ó Lucian, of man in his present state; but we regard him in the state of perfection, to which he may attain by instruction and experience. We hope the time will arrive, when neither government nor laws will be necessary to the existence of society; for morality is nothing but the calculation of the probable advantages, or disadvantages of our actions.
Lucian. By what means, then, shall those be corrected, who may err in their calculations respecting the public good, and eternal justice? For I suppose, you can hardly expect that all men will reason with equal acuteness, in the most enlightened periods.
Neodidactus. By persuasion; the only * allowable me. thod of supressing human errors. The establishment of positive laws is an insult to the dignity of man;ť so greatly do we detest their influence, that we consider an honest lawyer as a worse member of society than a dishonest one, because the man of integrity palliates, and in some degree masks the ill effects of law.
of your philosophy is not so new as you imagine. All punishments, then, would be banished from your republic, excepting the long discourses, to which you would oblige criminals to listen.
* Enquiry, vol. i. p. 180. + Vol. ii. p. 399, 400. # Vol. ii. p. 399.
Vol. i. p. 181.
and he who suffers it must be debased, and insensible of the difference between right and wrong, if he does not consider it as unjust.* 5 I have deeply reflected, suppose, upon the nature of virtue, and am convinced that a certain proceeding is incumbent
But the hangman, supported by an act of parliament, assures me that I am mistaken.”+ Can any thing be more atrocious? more injurious to our sublime speculations ?
Lucian. Doubtless, philosophers of your sect must sometimes be thus disagreeably interrupted, in their progress to perfection. But in a society without laws, without the fear of punishment for offences, without the distinctions of virtue and vice, and destitute of the ties of gratitude and friendship, I feel it difficult to conceive, how the transactions necessary to existence can be carried on. You
* Enquiry, vol. i. p. 181, + Id. p. 178, 179.
must depend much on family attachments, and on the inviolable regard which individuals should pay to their promises.
Neodidactus, Family-attachments we regard as silly, and even criminal, when they tend to bias our opinions; and as to promises, our master has written a long chapter, to prove
that they are great evils, and are only to be observed, when we find it convenient,
that this system might produce more evil than good in the world? and that you have been recommend ing a plan, which instead of perfecting man, and improving society, must be destructive of every estimable quality in his breast, and must drive him again into savage solitude ?
Neodidactus. We cannot always answer for events, © Every thing is connected in the universe. If any man asserted that, if Alexander had not bathed himself in the river Cydnus, Shakespeare would never have written, it would be impossible to affirm that his assertion was untrue.”* Such is our doctrine,
Lucian. Your logic is equally admirable with your morality; this species of sophism has been exploded with contempt by good authors; you now revive it as one of your discoveries, and
you may perhaps raise it to the rank of those which merit indignation.
Neodidactus. Be not too hasty, facetious Greek; you miscalculate, like all those who err, the quantity of energy necessary for this occasion. Our master has taken many of the things which you disapprove, from the writings of your friend Swift.
* Enquiry, vol. i. p. 161.