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which renders the progress of civilisation a curse,
and warps the understanding, till men of sensibility
doubt whether the expansion of intellect
produces a greater portion of happiness or misery."
A VINDICATION OF
In the present state of society it appears necessary to go back to first principles in search of the most simple truths, and to dispute with some prevailing prejudice every inch of ground. To clear my way, I must be allowed to ask some plain questions, and the answers will probably appear as unequivocal as the axioms on which reasoning is built; though, when entangled with various motives of action, they are formally contradicted, either by the words or conduct of men.
In what does man's pre-eminence over the brute creation consist? The answer is as clear as that a half is less than the whole, in Reason.
What acquirement exalts one being above another? Virtue, we spontaneously reply.
For what purpose were the passions implanted? That man by struggling with them might attain a degree of knowledge denied to the brutes, whispers Experience.
Consequently the perfection of our nature and capability of happiness must be estimated by the degree of reason, virtue, and knowledge, that distinguish the individual, and direct the laws which bind society: and that from the exercise of reason, knowledge and virtue naturally flow, is equally undeniable, if mankind be viewed collectively.
The rights and duties of man thus simplified, it seems almost impertinent to attempt to illustrate truths that appear so incontrovertible; yet such deeply rooted prejudices have clouded reason, and such spurious qualities have assumed the name of virtues, that it is necessary to pursue the course of reason as it has been perplexed and involved in error, by various adventitious circumstances, comparing the simple axiom with casual deviations.
Men, in general, seem to employ their reason to
justify prejudices, which they have imbibed, they can scarcely trace how,
rather than to root them out. The mind must be strong that resolutely forms
its own principles; for a kind of intellectual cowardice prevails which
makes many men shrink from the task, or only do it by halves.
Going back to first principles, vice skulks, with
all its native deformity, from close investigation; but a set of shallow
reasoners are always exclaiming that these arguments prove too much, and
that a measure rotten at the core may be expedient.
That the society is formed in the wisest manner, whose constitution is founded on the nature of man, strikes, in the abstract, every thinking being so forcibly, that it looks like presumption to endeavour to bring forward proofs; though proof must be brought, or the strong hold of prescription will never be forced by reason; yet to urge prescription as an argument to justify the depriving men (or women) of their natural rights, is one of the absurd sophisms which daily insult common sense.
The civilisation of the bulk of the people of Europe
is very partial; nay, it may be made a question, whether they have acquired
any virtues in exchange for innocence, equivalent to the misery produced
by the vices that have been plastered over unsightly ignorance, and the
freedom which has been bartered for splendid slavery.
Such, indeed, has been the wretchedness that has
flowed from hereditary honours, riches, and monarchy, that men of lively
sensibility have almost uttered blasphemy in order to justify the dispensations
Impressed by this view of the misery and disorder
which pervaded society, and fatigued with jostling against artificial fools,
Rousseau became enamoured of solitude, and, being at the same time an
optimist, he labours with uncommon eloquence to prove that man was naturally
a solitary animal. Misled by his respect for the goodness of God, who certainly
- for what man of sense and feeling can doubt it ! - gave life only to
communicate happiness, he considers evil as positive, and the work
of man; not aware that he was exalting one attribute at the expense of
another, equally necessary to divine perfection.
When that wise Being who created us and placed us here, saw the fair idea, He willed, by allowing it to be so, that the passions should unfold our reason, because He could see that present evil would produce future good.
Could the helpless creature whom He called from nothing break loose from His providence, and boldly learn to know good by practising evil, without His permission? No.
How could that energetic advocate for immortality argue so inconsistently?
Had mankind remained for ever in the brutal state of nature, which even his magic pen cannot paint as a state in which a single virtue took root, it would have been clear, though not to the sensitive unreflecting wanderer, that man was born to run the circle of life and death, and adorn God's garden for some purpose which could not easily be reconciled with His attributes.
But if, to crown the whole, there were to be rational creatures produced, allowed to rise in excellence by the exercise of powers implanted for that purpose; if benignity itself thought fit to call into existence a creature above the brutes,  who could think and improve himself, why should that inestimable gift, for a gift it was, if man was so created, as to have a capacity to rise above the state in which sensation produced brutal ease, be called, in direct terms, a curse?
A curse it might be reckoned, if the whole of our existence were bounded by our continuance in this world; for why should the gracious fountain of life give us passions, and the power of reflecting, only to imbitter our days and inspire us with mistaken notions of dignity?
Why should He lead us from love of ourselves to the sublime emotions which the discovery of His wisdom and goodness excites, if these feelings were not set in motion to improve our nature, of which they make a part,  and render us capable of enjoying a more godlike portion of happiness?
Firmly persuaded that no evil exists in the world that God did not design to take place, I build my belief on the perfection of God.
Rousseau exerts himself to prove that all was right originally: a crowd of authors that all is now right: and I, that all will be right.
But, true to his first position, next to a state
of nature, Rousseau celebrates barbarism, and apostrophising the shade
of Fabricius, he forgets that, in conquering the world, the Romans never
dreamed of establishing their own liberty on a firm basis, or of extending
the reign of virtue.
Disgusted with artificial manners and virtues,
the citizen of Geneva, instead of properly sifting the subject, threw away
the wheat with the chaff, without waiting to inquire whether the evils
which his ardent soul turned from indignantly, were the consequence of
civilisation or the vestiges of barbarism.
Nothing can set the regal character in a more contemptible point of view, than the various crimes that have elevated men to the supreme dignity. Vile intrigues, unnatural crimes, and every vice that degrades our nature, have been the steps to this distinguished eminence; yet millions of men have supinely allowed the nerveless limbs of the posterity of such rapacious prowlers to rest quietly on their ensanguined thrones. 
What but a pestilential vapour can hover over society
when its chief director is only instructed in the invention of crimes,
or the stupid routine of childish ceremonies?
It is impossible for any man, when the most favourable circumstances concur, to acquire sufficient knowledge and strength of mind to discharge the duties of a king, entrusted with uncontrolled power; how then must they be violated when his very elevation is an insuperable bar to the attainment of either wisdom or virtue, when all the feelings of a man are stifled by flattery, and reflection shut out by pleasure!
Sure it is madness to make the fate of thousands
depend on the caprice of a weak fellow-creature, whose very station sinks
him necessarily below the meanest of his subjects !
But this and any similar maxim deduced from simple reason, raises an outcry - the Church or the State is in danger, if faith in the wisdom of antiquity is not implicit; and they who, roused by the sight of human calamity, dare to attack human authority, are reviled as despisers of God, and enemies of man.
These are bitter calumnies, yet they reached one of the best of men,  whose ashes still preach peace, and whose memory demands a respectful pause, when subjects are discussed that lay so near his heart.
After attacking the sacred majesty of kings, I shall scarcely excite surprise by adding my firm persuasion that every profession, in which great subordination of rank constitutes its power, is highly injurious to morality.
A standing army, for instance, is incompatible
with freedom; because subordination and rigour are the very sinews of military
discipline; and despotism is necessary to give vigour to enterprises that
one will directs.
Besides, nothing can be so prejudicial to the morals of the inhabitants of country towns as the occasional residence of a set of idle superficial young men, whose only occupation is gallantry, and whose polished manners render vice more dangerous, by concealing its deformity under gay ornamental drapery.
An air of fashion, which is but a badge of slavery, and proves that the soul has not a strong individual character, awes simple country people into an imitation of the vices, when they cannot catch the slippery graces, of politeness. Every corps is a chair; of despots, who, submitting and tyrannising without exercising their reason, become dead-weights of vice and folly on the community.
A man of rank or fortune, sure of rising by interest, has nothing to do but to pursue some extravagant freak; whilst the needy gentleman, who is to rise, as the phrase turns, by his merit, becomes a servile parasite or vile pander.
Sailors, the naval gentlemen, come under the same
description, only their vices assume a different and a grosser cast. They
are more positively indolent, when not discharging the ceremonials of their
station; whilst the insignificant fluttering of soldiers may be termed
May I be allowed to extend the comparison to a
profession where more mind is certainly to be found - for the clergy have
superior opportunities of improvement, though subordination almost equally
cramps their faculties?
It is of great importance to observe that the character of every man is, in some degree, formed by his profession. A man of sense may only have a cast of countenance that wears off as you trace his individuality, whilst the weak, common man has scarcely ever any character, but what belongs to the body; at least, all his opinions have been so steeped in the vat consecrated by authority, that the faint spirit which the grape of his own vine yields, cannot be distinguished.
Society, therefore, as it becomes more enlightened, should be very careful not to establish bodies of men who must necessarily be made foolish or vicious by the very constitution of their profession.
In the infancy of society, when men were just emerging
out of barbarism, chiefs and priests, touching the most powerful springs
of savage conduct, hope and fear, must have had unbounded sway.
This appears to be the origin of monarchical and priestly power, and the dawn of civilisation. But such combustible materials cannot long be pent up; and, getting vent in foreign wars and intestine insurrections, the people acquire some power in the tumult, which obliges their rulers to gloss over their oppression with a show of right.
Thus, as wars, agriculture, commerce, and literature, expand the mind, despots are compelled to make covert corruption hold fast the power which was formerly snatched by open force. 
And this baneful lurking gangrene is most quickly spread by luxury and superstition, the sure dregs of ambition. The indolent puppet of a court first becomes a luxurious monster, or fastidious sensualist, and then makes the contagion which his unnatural state spread, the instrument of tyranny.
It is the pestiferous purple which renders the
progress of civilisation a curse, and warps the understanding, till
men of sensibility doubt whether the expansion of intellect produces a
greater portion of happiness or misery.
 Contrary to the opinion of the anatomists, who argye by analogy from the formation of the teeth, stomach, and intestines, Rousseau will not allow a man to be a carniverous animal. And, carried away from nature by a love of system, he disputes whether man be a gregarious animal, though the long and helpless state of infancy seems to point him out as particularly impelled to pair, the first step towards herding. RETURN TO TEXT
 What would you say to a mechanic whom you had desired to make a watch to point out the hour of the day, if, to show his ingenuity, he added wheels to make it a repeater, etc., that perplexed the simple mechanism; should he urge - to excuse himself - had you not touched a certain spring, you would have known nothing of the matter, and that he should have amused himself by making an experiment without doing you any harm, would you not retort fairly upon him, bu insisting that if he had not added those needless wheels and springs, the accident could not have happened? RETURN TO TEXT
 Could there be a greater insult offered to the rights of man than the beds of justice in France, when an infant was made the organ of the detestable Dubois? RETURN TO TEXT
 Dr. Price. RETURN TO TEXT
 Men of abilities scatter seeds that grow up and have a great influence on the forming opinion; and when once the public opinion preponderates, through the exertion of reason, the overthrow of arbitrary power is not very distant. RETURN TO TEXT
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