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tinction of occupations naturally arises among them. The husbandman is so constantly employed through the several seasons of the year in the labours of the field, that he has no longer leisure to exercise all the rude arts known among his countrymen. He has not time to fashion the instruments of husbandry, to prepare his clothes, to build his house, to manufacture household utensils, or to tend those tame animals which he continues to rear. These different departments now begin to employ different persons; each of whom dedicates his whole time and attention to his own occupation. The manufacture of cloth is for some time managed exclusively by the women; but smiths and carpenters arise among the men. Metals begin now to be considered as valuable materials. The intercourse of mankind is now placed on a new footing. Before, every individual practised all the arts that were known, as far as was necessary
for supplying himself with the conveniences of life. Now he confines himself to one or two of them; and, in order to obtain a necessary supply of the productions of those arts, which he does not cultivate himself, he gives in exchange a part of the productions of his own labours. Here we have the origin of commerce.
In process of time commerce gives birth to currency, which serves as a medium of the exchange of property.
One of the noblest changes which the introduction of the arts by agriculture produces on the form and circumstances of society, is the introduction of regular government and laws. In tracing the history of ancient nations, we scarce ever find laws introduced at an earlier period. Minon, Solon, Lycurgus, do not appear to have formed codes of wisdom and justice for regulating the manners of their countrymen, till after the Cretans, the Athenians, and the Lacedemonians, had made some progress in agriculture and the useful arts.
Religion, under all its various forms, has in every stage of society a mighty influence on the sentiments and conduct of men; and the arts cultivated in society have, on the other hand, some influence on the system of religious
belief. One happy effect which will result from the invention of arts, though perhaps not immediately, will be to render the characters of the deities more benevolent and amiable, and the rites of their worship more mild and humane.
The female sex in this period generally find the yoke of their slavery somewhat lightened. Men now become easier in their circumstances; the social affections assume stronger influences over the mind ; plenty, and security, and ease, at once communicate both delicacy and keenness to the sensual desires. All these circumstances concur to make men relax, in some degree, that tyrannic sway by which they before depressed the softer sex, The foundation of that empire, where beauty triumphs over both wisdom and strength, now begins to be laid. Such are the effects which history warrants us to attribute to agriculture and the arts; and such the outlines of the character of that which we reckon the fourth stage in the progress of society from rudeness to refinement.
5. Fifth class. Let us advance one step further. We have not surveyed mankind in their most polished and cultivated state. Society is rude at the period when the arts first begin to show themselves, in comparison of that state to which it is raised by the industrious cultivation of them. The useful arts are first cultivated with such steady industry as to raise the community to opulence, and to furnish them with articles for commerce with foreign nations. The useful arts cannot be raised to this height, without leading man to the pursuit of science. Commerce with foreign nations, skill in the useful arts, and a taste for science, naturally aid each other, and conspire to improve the fine arts. Hence magnificent buildings, noble statues, paintings expressive of life, action, and passion, and poems in which imagination adds new graces and solemnity to nature, and gives the appearances of life more irresistible power over the affections of the heart. Hence are moral distinctions more carefully studied, and the rights of every individual and of every order in society better understood and more
accurately defined. Moral science is generally the first scientific pursuit which strongly attracts the attention of men. Accordingly, when we view the state of literature in this period, we perceive that poetry, history, and morals, are the branches chiefly cultivated. Arts are usually casual inventions, and long practised before rules and principles on which they are founded assume the form of science. But morality, if considered as an art, is that art which men have soonest and most constantly occasion to practice. Besides, we are so constituted by the wisdom of nature, that human actions, and the events which befal human beings, have more powerful influence than any other object to engage and fix our attention. Hence we are enabled to explain why morality, and those branches of literature more immediately connected with it, are almost always cultivated in preference to physical science.
This is the period when human virtue and human abilities shine with most splendour. Rudeness, ferocity, and barbarism, are now banished. Luxury has made her appearance; but as yet she is the friend and the benefactress of society. Commerce has stimulated and rewarded industry, but has not yet contracted the heart and debased the character. Wealth is not yet become the sole object of pursuit. The charms of social intercourse are known and relished; but domestic duties are not yet deserted for public amusements. The female sex acquire new influence, and contribute much to refine and polish the manners of their lords. Religion now assumes a milder and more pleasing form ; splendid rites, magnificent temples, pompous sacrifices, and gay festivals, give even superstition an influence favourable to the happiness of mankind. The gloomy notions and barbarous rites of former periods fall into disuse. Philosophy teaches men to discard such parts of their religion as are unfriendly to good morals, and have any tendency to call forth or cherish unsocial sentiments in the heart.
War, which is prosecuted in this state of society, no
longer retains its former ferocity; nations no longer strive to extirpate one another; to humble, not to destroy, is now the object. Prisoners are no longer murdered in cold blood, subjected to horrid and excruciating tortures, or condemned to hopeless slavery. They are ransomed or exchanged; they return to their country, and again fight under her banners. In this period the arts of government are likewise better understood, and practised so as to contribute most to the interests of society. Whether monarchy, or democracy, or aristocracy, be the established form, the rights of individuals and of society are in general respected. The interests of society are so well understood, that the few, in order to preserve their influence over the many, find it necessary to act rather as the faithful servants than the imperious lords of the public. Though the liberties of a nation in this state be not accurately defined by law, nor their property guaranteed by any legal institutions, yet their governors dare not violate their liberties, nor deprive them wantonly of their property. This is regarded as the golden age of society: every trace of barbarism is effaced, and vicious luxury has not yet begun to sap the virtue and happiness of the community. Men live not in listless indolence; but the industry in which they are engaged is not of such a nature as to overpower their strength, or exhaust their spirits. The social affections have now the strongest influence on men's sentiments and conduct.
But human affairs are scarce ever stationary. The circumstances of mankind are almost always changing, either growing better or worse. Their manners are ever in the same fluctuating state. They either advance towards perfection, or degenerate. Scarce have they attained that happy period in which we have contemplated them, when they begin to decline, till they perhaps fall back into a state nearly as low as that from which we suppose them to have emerged. Instances of this unhappy degeneracy occur more than once in the history of mankind; and we may finish this short sketch of the history of society by mentioning in what manner this
degeneracy takes place. Perhaps, strictly speaking, every thing but the simple necessaries of life may be denominated luxury : for a long time, however, the welfare of society is best promoted, while its members aspire after something more than the mere necessaries of life. As long as these superfluities are to be obtained only by active and honest exertions; as long as they only engage the leisure hours without becoming the chief objects of pursuit, the employment which they give to the faculties is favourable both to the virtues and the happiness of the human race.
The period arrives, however, when luxury is no longer serviceable to the interests of the nations; when she is no longer a graceful, elegant, active form, but a languid, overgrown, and bloated carcase. It is the love of luxury, which contributed so much to the civilization of society, that now brings on its decline. Arts are cultivated and improved, and commerce extended, till enormous opulence be acquired : the effect of opulence is to awake the fancy, to conceive ideas of new and capricious wants, and to inflame the breast with new desires.
Here we have the origin of the selfishness which, operating in conjunction with caprice, and the violence of unbridled passions, contributes so much to virtuous manners. Selfishness, caprice, indolence, effeminacy, all join to loosen the bonds of society, to bring on the degeneracy both of the useful and fine arts, to banish at once the mild and austere virtues, to destroy civil order and subordination, and to introduce in their room anarchy and despotism.
History furnishes us with numerous examples of the declining state of society. The Assyrians, the Egyptians, and the Persians, were all of them once flourishing nations, but have been brought low by luxury and an unhappy corruption of manners. The Greeks, the Romans, and the Arabians, owed their fall to the same causes; and some of the European nations seem to be rapidly treading in their downward steps. The Portuguese, the Venetians, and the Spaniards, have already fallen, and some other nations are on the decline,