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An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals

social entertainment. In all polite nations and ages, a relish for pleasure, if accompanied
with temperance and decency, is esteemed a considerable merit, even in the greatest men;
and becomes still more requisite in those of inferior rank and character. It is an agreeable
representation, which a French writer gives of the situation of his own mind in this
particular, VIRTUE I LOVE, says he, WITHOUT AUSTERITY: PLEASURE
WITHOUT EFFEMINACY: AND LIFE, WITHOUT FEARING ITS END. [Footnote:
'J'aime la vertu, sans rudesse; J'aime le plaisir, sans molesse; J'aime la vie, et n'en crains
point la fin.'-ST. EVREMONT.]
Who is not struck with any signal instance of greatness of mind or dignity of character;
with elevation of sentiment, disdain of slavery, and with that noble pride and spirit, which
arises from conscious virtue? The sublime, says Longinus, is often nothing but the echo
or image of magnanimity; and where this quality appears in any one, even though a
syllable be not uttered, it excites our applause and admiration; as may be observed of the
famous silence of Ajax in the Odyssey, which expresses more noble disdain and resolute
indignation than any language can convey [Footnote: Cap. 9.].
WERE I Alexander, said Parmenio, I WOULD ACCEPT OF THESE OFFERS MADE
BY DARIUS. SO WOULD I TOO, replied Alexander, WERE I PARMENIO. This
saying is admirable, says Longinus, from a like principle. [Footnote: Idem.]
GO! cries the same hero to his soldiers, when they refused to follow him to the Indies,
GO TELL YOUR COUNTRYMEN, THAT YOU LEFT Alexander COMPLETING
THE CONQUESTOF THE WORLD. 'Alexander,' said the Prince of Conde, who always
admired this passage, 'abandoned by his soldiers, among barbarians, not yet fully
subdued, felt in himself such a dignity and right of empire, that he could not believe it
possible that any one would refuse to obey him. Whether in Europe or in Asia, among
Greeks or Persians, all was indifferent to him: wherever he found men, he fancied he
should find subjects.'
The confident of Medea in the tragedy recommends caution and submission; and
enumerating all the distresses of that unfortunate heroine, asks her, what she has to
support her against her numerous and implacable enemies. MYSELF, replies she;
MYSELF I SAY, AND IT IS ENOUGH. Boileau justly recommends this passage as an
instance of true sublime [Footnote: Reflexion 10 sur Longin.].
When Phocion, the modest, the gentle Phocion, was led to execution, he turned to one of
his fellow-sufferers, who was lamenting his own hard fate, IS IT NOT GLORY
ENOUGH FOR YOU, says he, THAT YOU DIE WITH PHOCION? [Footnote: Plutarch
in Phoc.]
Place in opposition the picture which Tacitus draws of Vitellius, fallen from empire,
prolonging his ignominy from a wretched love of life, delivered over to the merciless
rabble; tossed, buffeted, and kicked about; constrained, by their holding a poinard under
his chin, to raise his head, and expose himself to every contumely. What abject infamy!
What low humilation! Yet even here, says the historian, he discovered some symptoms of
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