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rit of human actions.
But this can pro
teed from no other caufe than the diver fity of our feelings, and the neceffity we are under of measuring the dispositions of others by our own. Even this moral principle, though a competent judge of the virtue and propriety of human actions, is apt to mislead us in our inquiries concerning the ftructure and difpofitions of the mind. Defirous of avoiding the rebuke of this fevere and vigilant cenfor, we are ready to extenuate every blameable quality, and magnify what we approve.
In order, therefore, to rectify our opi nions, and enlarge our conceptions of the human mind, we muft ftudy its operations in the conduct and deportment of others We must mingle in fociety, and obferve the manners and characters of mankind, according as cafual or unexpected incidents may furnish an opportunity. But the mind, not being an object of the external
fenfes, the temper and inclinations of others can only be known to us by figns either natural or artificial, referring us to our own internal fenfations. Thus, we are expofed nearly to the fame difficulties as before: We cannot at pleasure call forth the objects of our refearches, nor retain them till we have examined their nature: We can know no more of the internal feelings of another than he expreffes by outward figns or language; and confequently he may feel many emotions that we are unable easily to conceive. Neither can we confider human characters and affections as altogether indifferent to us: They are not mere objects of curiofity; they excite love or hatred, approbation or diflike. But, when the mind is influenced by thefe affections, and by others that often attend them, the judgment is apt to be biaffed, and the force of the principle we contemplate is increased or B 3
diminished accordingly. The inquirer must not only beware of external difficulties, but muft preferve his heart both from angry, and from kind affection. The maxim, that all men who deliberate about doubtful matters, should diveft themselves of hatred, friendship, anger, and compaffion, is as applicable in philosophy as in politics.
Since experiments, made by reflecting on our own minds, or by attending to the conduct of others, are liable to difficulty, and confequently to error; we should embrace every affiftance that may facilitate and improve them. Were it poffible, during the continuance of a violent paffion, to feize a faithful impreffion of its features, and an exact delineation of the images it creates in us, fuch a valuable copy would guide the philofopher in tracing the perplexed and intricate mazes of metaphyfical inquiry. By frequently examining
it, every partial confideration, and every feeling tending to mislead his opinions, would be corrected: His conception would be enlarged by discovering paffions more or less vehement than his own, or by discovering tempers of a different colour. We judge of mankind by referring their actions to the paffions and principles that influence our own behaviour: We have no other guide, fince the nature of the paffions and faculties of the mind are not difcernible by the fenfes. It may, however, be objected, that, according to this hypothesis, those who deduce the conduct of others from malignant paffions, and those who are capable of imitating them, must themselves be malignant. The obfervation is inaccurate, Every man, unless his conftitution be defective, inherits the principles of every paffion: But no man is the prey of all the paffions. Some of them are fo feeble in themselves, or rather,
ther, fo entirely fuppreffed by the afcendant of others, that they never become principles of action, nor conftitute any part of the character. Hence it is the bufinefs of culture and education, by giving exercise to virtuous principles, and by rendering them habitual, to bear down their opponents, and fo gradually to weaken and wear them out. If we measure the minds of others precifely by our own, as we have formed and fashioned them by habit and education, and make no account of feeble and decaying principles, our theories must neceffarily be inadequate : But, by confidering the copy and por-. trait of minds different from our own, and by reflecting on these latent and un-. exerted principles, augmented and promoted by imagination, we may discover many new tints, and uncommon features. Now, that class of poetical writers that excel by imitating the paffions, might