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tion may be grand without being virtuous, or little without being faulty. Every action of dignity creates respect and esteem for the author; and a mean action draws upon him contempt. A man is always admired for a grand action, but frequently is neither loved nor efteemed for it: neither is a man always contemned for a low or little action.

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As it appears to me, dignity and meanness are founded on a natural principle not hitherto mentioned. Man is endued with a sense of the worth and excellence of his nature. He deems it to be more perfect than that of the other beings around him and he feels that the perfection of his nature confifts in virtue, particularly in virtue of the highest rank. To exprefs this sense, the term dignity is appropriated. Further, to behave with dignity, and to refrain from all mean actions, is felt to be, not a virtue only, but a duty: it is a duty every man owes to himself. By acting in this manner, he attracts love and efteem. By acting meanly or below himself, he is disapproved and contemned.


According to the description here given of dignity and meannefs, they will be found to be a fpecies of propriety and impropriety. Many actions may be proper or improper, to which dignity or meannefs cannot be applied. To eat when one is hungry is proper, but there is no dignity in this acRevenge fairly taken, if against law, is improper, but it is not mean. every action of dignity is alfo proper, and every mean action is also improper.



This fenfe of the dignity of human nature, reaches even our pleasures and amusements. If they enlarge the mind by raising grand or elevated emotions, or if they humanize the mind by exercifing our fympathy, they are approved as fuited to our nature: if they contract the mind by fixing it on trivial objects, they are contemned as low and mean. Hence in general, every occupation, whether of use or amusement, that corresponds to the dignity of man, obtains the epithet of manly; and every occupation below his nature, obtains the epithet of childish.

To those who study human nature, there

is a point which has always appeared intricate. How comes it that generofity and courage are more valued and bestow more dignity, than good-nature, or even justice, though the latter contribute more than the former, to private as well as to public happinefs? This question bluntly propofed, might puzzle a cunning philofopher; but by means of the foregoing obfervations will eafily be folved. Human virtues, like other objects, obtain a rank in our estimation, not from their utility, which is a subject of reflection, but from the direct impreffion they make on us. Juftice and good-nature are a fort of negative virtues, that make no figure unless when they are tranfgreffed. Courage and generofity producing elevated emotions, enliven greatly the sense of a man's dignity, both in himfelf and in others; and for that reason, courage and generofity are in higher regard than the other virtues mentioned. We describe them as grand and elevated, as of greater dignity, and more praise-worthy.

This leads us to examine more directly emotions and paffions with refpect to the present

present fubject. And it will not be difficult to form a scale of them, beginning at the meanest, and afcending gradually to thofe of the highest rank and dignity. Pleasure felt as at the organ of fense, named corporeal pleasure, is perceived to be low; and when indulged to excess, beyond what nature demands, is perceived alfo to be mean. Perfons therefore of any delicacy, diffemble the pleasure they have in eating and drinking. The pleasures of the eye and ear, which have no organic feeling*, are free from any fenfe of meanness ; and for that reafon are indulged without any shame. They even arise to a certain degree of dignity, when their objects are grand or elevated. The fame is the cafe of the sympathetic paffions. They raise the character confiderably, when their objects are of importance. A virtuous person behaving with fortitude and dignity under the most cruel misfortunes, makes a capital figure; and the fympathifing fpectator feels in himself the fame dignity. Sympathetic diftrefs at

* See the Introduction.


the fame time never is mean: on the contrary, it is agreeable to the nature of a focial being, and has the general approbation. The rank that love poffeffes in this scale, depends in a great measure on its object. It poffeffes a low place when founded on external properties merely; and is mean when bestowed upon a perfon of a rank much inferior without any extraordinary qualification. But when founded on the more elevated internal properties, it affumes a confiderable degree of dignity. The fame is the case of friendship. When gratitude is warm, it animates the mind; but it fcarce rifes to dignity. Joy bestows dignity when it proceeds from an elevated cause.

So far as I can gather from induction, dignity is not a property of any disagreeable paffion. One is flight another fevere, one depreffes the mind another roufes and animates it; but there is no elevation, far lefs dignity, in any of them. Revenge, in particular, though it inflame and fwell the mind, is not accompanied with dignity, not even with elevation. It is not however felt




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