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Ego vero omni de re facetius puto pofle ab homine non inurbano, quam de ipfis facetiis, dif putari.


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Introduction. The Subject proposed.

Opinions of Philosophers, - I. Aristotle - II. Hobbes - III. Hutcheson - IV. Akenside.

F Man, it is observed by Homer, that he is the most wretched, and, by Addison and others, that he is

the merriest animal in the whole creation : and both opinions are plausible, VOL. II. Sf



and both perhaps may be true. If, from the acuteness and delicacy of his perceptive powers, from his remembrance of the past, and his anticipation of what is to come, from his restless and creative fancy, and from the various sensibilities of his moral nature, Man be exposed to many evils, both imaginary and real, from which the brutes are exempte ed, he does also from the same fources derive innumerable delights, that are far beyond the reach of every other animal. That our pre-eminence in pleasure should thus, in some degree, be counterbalanced by our pre-eminence in pain, was necessary to exercise our virtue, and wean our hearts from fublunary enjoyment; and that beings thus beset with a multitude of sorrows should be supplied from so many quarters with the means of comfort, is suitable to that benign economy which characterises every operation of nature.

When a brute has gratified those few appetites that minister to the support of the species, and of the individual, he


be faid to have attained the summit of happiness, above which a thousand


prosperity could not raise him a single step. But for Man, her favourite child, Nature has made a more liberal provision. He, if he have only guarded against the necessities of life, and indulged the animal part of his constitution, has experienced but little of that felicity whereof he is capable. To say nothing at present of his moral and religious gratifications, is he not furnished with faculties that fit him for receiving pleasure from almost every part of the visible universe ? Even to those persons, whose powers of observation are confined within a narrow circle, the exercise of the necessary arts may open inexhaustible sources of amusement, tó alleviate the cares of a solitary and laborious life. Men of more enlarged understanding, and more cultivated taste, are still more plentifully supplied with the means of innocent delight. For such, either from acquired habit, or from innate propensity, is the soul of man, that there is hardly any thing in art or nature from which we may not derive gratification. What is great,, overpowers with pleasing astonishment; what is little, may charm by its nicety of proportion, or beauty of colour; what is diversified, pleases by supplying a series of novelties; what is uniform, by leading us to reflect on the skill displayed in the arrangement of its parts; order and connection gratify our sense of propriety; and certain forms of irregularity and unsuitableness raise within us that



agreeable emotion whereof LAUGHTER is the outward sign.

RISIBILITY, considered as one of the characters that distinguish man from the inferior animals, and as an instrument of harmless, and even of profitable recreation, to every age, condition, and capacity, of

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