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mant, it is introduced in high-ways, and workshops, and private and publick assemblies; too ambitious to be easily overcome, it continually renews and perpetuates the conflict. The prejudices, therefore, of sects and parties have all the elements of professional prejudices, embittered by constant exercise. They convulse nations; they disturb the peace of neighbourhoods; they break asunder the strong ties of family and kindred.

The history of every republick, not excepting our own, affords abundant instances of the putting forth of these virulent and ungenerous tendencies. We do not mean to

say, that a man cannot belong to a party without being prejudiced; however difficult it may be, to be placed in that situation without being tinctured with those feelings. But wherever they actually exist, they deaden every honourable sentiment; they perplex every noble principle. Nothing can be clearer evidence of this, than that we continually behold men of exalted patriotism, and of every way unsullied character, traduced by unfounded imputations and charges; and which are known to be so by those political opponents, who make them. And it is a still more striking illustration of the strength of party prejudices, that we find the same political measures, advocated or opposed by the same men, as they happen to be in, or out of office; or as the measures in question happen to be advocated or opposed by the members of the other party. As if the men, and not measures; as if places, without regard to principles, were to be the sole subject of inquiry.The prejudices of sects have been no less violent than those of political parties, as may be learnt from the hostility which is yet exercised among them, and from the history of former persecutions and martyrdoms. Even philosophy has not been exempt; different scientifick systems have had their parties for and against; and the serious and dignified pretensions of philosophick inquiry have not always preserved them from virulent contentions, which were not merely discreditable to science, but to human nature. We are told in the histories of philosophical opinions, that the controversies between the Realists and Nominalists ran so high, as to end

not only in verbal disputes, but in blows. An eye-witness assures us, that the combatants might be seen, not only engaging with fists, but with clubs and swords, and that many were wounded, and some killed. Not a very suitable way, one would imagine, of deciding an abstract, metaphysical question.

§. 406. Prejudices of authority.

Men often adopt erroneous opinions merely because they are proposed by writers cf great name. The writings of Aristotle were upheld as chief authorities for a number of centuries in Europe, and no more was necessary in support of any controverted opinions, than to cite something favourable from them. The followers of Des Cartes r ceived hardly less implicitly the philosophical creed of that new master of science; not so much because they had investigated,and were convinced in view of the evidence before them, as because Des Cartes had said it. There have been teachers in religion, also in politicks & other subordinate departments of science, who have had their followers for no better reason. Such prejudices have been a great hinderance to free discussion and the progress of knowledge.

The influence of authority in giving a direction to people's opinions is not limited to persons, who can truly make pretensions to some superiour wisdom; it is also frequently exercised by mere riches, titles, outward splendour. This is often seen in republican states, where the people have the right of choosing their rulers, and of expressing their opinions on a variety of publick questions. It is well, if not more than half of the people in any of the smaller corporations do not, in giving their suffrages, fall in with the sentiments, however absurd, of a few individuals, whose riches enable them to make a somewhat greater figure than their poorer neighbours. But this is a very unreasonable prejudice. The poorer classes of the community, inasmuch as they have but a small amount of property to boast of, ought at least to show in all cases, where they are at all capable of judging, that they have understandings, and possess and value freedom.

. 407. Prejudices of careless and indiscriminate


It has been remarked by men of careful observation, that those, who apply themselves most eagerly to reading, and do not combine with this practice a very considerable degree of caution and discrimination, are often led into a great number of errours. As they never pretend to examine and to weigh subjects carefully, their minds can be justly thought to be no better than a mere bundle of prejudices, although they may be of a less tenacious kind, than those arising from other sources. If their author happens to be in an errour, which is very probable, as they take little or no pains in the selection of books, they have no way of avoiding it. Their only remedy is continual reading, which increases the evil; like travellers, gotten into a wrong road, who are less likely to arrive at the place of their destination, the further they advance.

Although many ideas are to be derived from books, and it would be no less unwise than unprofitable to throw them aside, they are not to be consulted to the neglect of our own invention and of that effort, without which there cannot be a well furnished, and well disciplined mind. It is easier to read than to meditate ; and he, who reads merely or chiefly because he has an aversion to thinking, may be a bookworm, and even be thought to be learned, and yet be far from reaping the full benefit, which he might receive from his intellectual powers.

§. 408. Prejudices of presumption.

It must be admitted, that there is a difference in men's understandings, that some, where the education has been the same, appear to have naturally greater intellectual parts, than others. Those, who are thus originally favour ed above their competitors, are too apt to presume on such superiority, and to trust to their genius, where care, patience, and labour would be much better auxiliaries. Such men, who imagine, that their minds will not only be furnished with spontaneous materials, but regulated by a spon

taneous and infallible discipline, may impose upon the ignorant, but they make but a poor figure in the presence of learned and discerning persons. They will perhaps be found to have ideas enough, but there will be less prospect of their being suitably defined, compared together, and adjusted. We could not expect this with any better reason, than we can anticipate, that stones and timber, the spontaneous products of nature, will of themselves, without labour and art, be arranged together into well constructed and covenient piles of buildings.

§. 409. Prejudices of enthusiasm.

ENTHUSIAM always implies some object, which the mind judges good and desirable, but the pursuit of which is attended with a strong excitement of the feelings. In genuine enthusiasm the ardent feeling, which is exercised towards the object of pursuit, is supposed to be excited by that object exclusively, and to be free from any mixture of selfishness. So that this trait is in general an exalted and noble one, although sometimes attended with effects, which it is necessary to guard against. There may be enthusiasm in literature, politicks, religion, the arts, war, &c.

Persons under the influence of enthusiasm are subject to prejudices; that is, they form opinions without a cautious and suitable examination of all those facts and circumstances, which properly pertain to them. They are urged forward by too violent an impulse to permit them to stop and to analyze; many objections, which come in their way, are overlooked or disregarded; while every thing, that is favourable to the objects before them, is made to assume an exaggerated importance. The glow of feeling, the impetuosity of the passsions is made to take the place of cool and well-founded decisions.-The scenes of the French Revolution illustrate the prejudices of enthusiasm. The object, which the principal actors had in view, the es tablishment of freedom in France, was a good one. But hurried away by an excessive zeal, they magnified the dangers, which threatened them; while celebrating the rights

of man, they violated the plainest principles of justice; by arbitrary, capricious, and cruel acts they made even despotism itself desirable; and in the end, after great sacrifices and efforts, effectually defeated their own object.

It should be added, however, that the evils of enthusiasm are in general felt, only when it is excessive. A mod. erate share at least seems to be necessary, in overcoming the difficulties of all great undertakings.

§. 410. Prejudices of superstition.

SUPERSTITION, as the term is commonly employed, inplies an excessive susceptibility of belief, arising from, or superinduced by fear. We do not often speak of a person as superstitious, unless we observe in him these two charteristicks, excessive timidity on some subjects, combined with too great readiness of faith in respect to the same. The term, therefore, may be applied to the idolatrous worship of the heathen; to many of the mythological and other traditions of nations; to the belief in witchcraft and magick; to a regard for omens, whether of a political, religious, or domestick significancy; to an inordinate attachment to mere forms and ceremonies of whatever kind; to any object or subject whatever, where fears may be enlisted, and where belief follows chiefly in consequence of such fears.

The prejudices or erroneous opinions from this source have been exceedingly numerous. It is superstition, which, much to the disturbance of men's happiness and to the hinderance of the progress of the truth, has peopled the world with fairies and satyrs, with hypogriffs and dragons, with witches and centaurs, with the host of mythological deities, with marvellous sights in the sky, and with unknown sounds and voices on earth. There is no end to the catalogue of what may be seen, and heard, and believed by men under its influence.In the consulship of Posthumius Albus and Furius Fusus, "the sky, (says the historian, Livy,) appeared as on fire in many places, and other portents either occurred to people's sight, or were formed by

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