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The Adulterer, the Murderer, the Robber, whether in a public or private Character, (condemned by the Laws of the most favage and barbarous Nations to Insamy and Death) have cut themselves off from all Pretensions to Honour by a direct avowed Violation of the primary and fundamental Laws of Reason, Justice, and Order: Crimes that can admit of no Colouring or Excuse, for which nothing can be pleaded with any Shadow of Reason or common Sense, but are generally carried off with a high Hand, a hardened Forehead, a loud Laugh, and a libertine Joke. It is really too gentle a Censure upon such flagitious Offenders only to fay they are not Men of Honour, who have, by those atrocious Crimes, degraded themselves to the lowest Rank of Malefactors. Nor can it be thought unreasonable to aflerr, that these flagrant Crimes degrade Men from all Pretensions to Honour, when it is dexnonstrable that the not exerting all the opposite Virtues in an open, ingenuous, amiable Manner, is a sussicient Disqualification. A Man may be free from every notorious Vice, and yet be an errant Scoundrel. He may be just out of Fear or Policy, frugal and temperate out of Covetousness, peaceable and harmless from a Milkiness of Blood; he may abstain from Acts of Violence out of Cowardice, from Lewdness for Want of Ability and Opportunity; and yet, in the State and Temper of his Heart, be so far from a Man of Honour, as to deserve all the Insamy due to the most scandalous Vices.
By the bye, I have often wondered that so polite and accurate a Writer as Mr. Addison could be guilty of such a Mistake, on so important a Subject, as he
puts into the Mouth of young Juba, in the Tragedy of Cato.
"Honour 's the facred Tye, the Law of Kings,
"The noble Mind's distinguishing Persection,
** That aids and strengthens Virtue, where it meets
her; K And imitates her Actions, where she is not."
. Where she is not!—Is that possible? Can true Honour, even in Idea, be separate from Virtue? I think not. Tlie Matter of an honourable Action is, that it hejust; the Form, that it be persormed in a polite, generous, amiable Manner. There is indeed to be found, even in the vilest Criminals, a certain Roughness and Sturdinefs of Mind, that very nearly. resembles it. The Behaviour of a hardened Malesactor, expiring under the Torture, resusmg to consess his Guilt, or discover his Accomplices, may impose upon the injudicious Spectators, but surely has no real Title to Honour. The Bully may resemble the Hero in the Appearance of Courage, as Prudes do Vestals irl the Appearance of Chastity; but he that can mistake the one for the other, must be very little acquainted with human Nature, and the Ways of the World. True Honour is consistent and uniform, as the immutable Laws of Truth and Reason on which it is founded, and by which it subsists. Whoever, theresore, shall establish to himself, as a Point of Honour, any thing that is contrary to his Duty to God and his Country, and the immutable Laws of Truth and Justice; who shall think any thing honourable that is displeasing to his Maker, or injurious to Society; who facrifices any Vor.. I. H Part Part of his Duty, as a reasonable Creature, to a ridiculous Fashion, a prevailing Error, or an importunate Lust; who thinks himself obliged, by this Principle, to the Practice of some Virtues, but not of others, is by no means to be counted a Man os Honour.
The Malignity of a base corrupt Heart discovers. itself in a numberless Variety of pestilent Symptoms, foetid Eruptions, and disorderly Motions, which are neither cognizable in human Courts, nor punishable by human Laws, but are only known to the great Searcher of Hearts, who considers them as the Root and Spring from whence the most heinous and capital Offences proceed. The Selfish, the Voluptuous, the Covetous, and the Proud, whom no human Laws can restrain or punish, are as criminal in the Sight of the Almighty, and as odious to his boundless Love and spotless Purity, as those notorious Criminals who are daily recruiting Newgate and the Plantations.
Selfishness, or Self-love, in Opposition to public Spirit and the Love of the Community, can only proceed from a Weakness of Understanding, and a Baseness of Heart. Nemo fihi soli nascitur, is an obvious Maxim of Nature and common Sense; he that cannot see the Force and Obligation of it, must be a Fool,. and he that sees it, and acts difagreeably to it, is a Poltron. Public Spirit is inseparable from great Minds, and is that alone which can qualify Men to fill the highest Stations, and execute the most important Offices with Dignity and Honour. The greatest Princes^ without it, degenerate into Brokers and Stockjobbers. If they consider themselves in any other Light than.the Fathers of the People, the Guardians of Religion and Liberty, the Protectors of the Oppressed, and the impartial partial and munificent Patrons of real Merit, they know not themselves the Nature of their Office, nor the Design of their Elevation. Wealth and Power, if not acquired by virtuous and honourable Means, and employed to virtuous and honourable Purposes, are a Disgrace and Curse to the Owner, and will be a fore Article of Account at the last great Day. Avaricious Princes, rapacious Ministers, and venal Tools, who consider nothing but themselves, and how they may support one another in the Exercise of Oppression and Corruption, have so far forseited all Pretensions to Honour, that they seem to have extinguished the common Sentiments of Humanity itself. Think how dishonourable and contemptible a Figure the yewijb Nobility made that could force the Prophet Isaiah to make this fad Complaint. Isa. i. 231 Thy Princes art rebellious, (thy great Men are rebellious and disobedient to the Laws of God) Companions of Thieves (advising, assisting, and sharing in the Plunder of their Country) Every one loveth Gifts, andfolloweth after Re~ ivards (regarding nothing but their private Interest, disposing of no Favours, filling up no Offices without a valuable Consideration, seeing no Merit but in the best Bidder) They judge not the Fatherless, neither doth the Cause of the TVidbw come unto them. In short, great Men, Who have large Possessions, extensive Influence, and are set in high Places, without great Souls, extensive Generosity, and elevated Views and Designs, in spite of all their illustrious Titles and Badges of Honour, will appear odious and contemptible to Men of Sense and Virtue, even in the lowest Stations of Life* And when the Influence of suqh Examples shall, as it naturally will, infect the lower Part of the People, H 2 and
and the Herd of Mankind, when public Spirit shall become the Jest of Knaves and Fools, that Nation is not far from its Ruin.
The Voluptuous have no better Title to Honour. As their whole Business and Employment in this World is to indulge every Appetite, to gratify every Demand of Lust or Fancy, without any Regard to the Reason, the Justice, and Decency of the Action, they betray a shameful Corruption of Heart and Weakness of Understanding. The Man of Pleasure, whose whole; Prosession it is to pass merrily through the World, to murder Time, and cool Reflection; to be ever jovial, ever gay -. to deny himself nothing that his Eye can see, or his Heart can wish, is not only a despicable, and dijhonourable', but a dangerous, Creature. If he cannot discover, from the exalted Faculties and Operations of his own Soul, that he is a rational free Agent, he must be very ignorant and silly; and, if he knows it, and consesses it, and yet lives and acts in Defiance of that Conviction, he must be an irresolute unaccountable wicked Creature. To see a reasonable, immortal Being, endued with noble Faculties, capable of noble Reflections and generous Resolutions, sacrificing his whole Attention to some predominant Vanity, is a Reflection upon common Sense. Be the Object of his Passion in its own Nature ever so innocent, the Diversions of the Field, or the Assembly; if a Pack of Dogs or Cards, Equipage or Show, Wine or Women, engross the whole Man; he departs thereby from his proper Rank in the Scale of Beings, finks below the Dignity of his Species, and sets himself upon the Level with the lowest Animal.-^-But if the Passion srxes upon forbidden Objects; if it tempts