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them; so that here is evil, irremediable evil, either way.
Hor. That is very true; at least it appears so to me. Pray what have you to say, Philocles, in honour of Nature or Providence ? Methinks, I am in pain for her :- how do you rescue her, poor lady ?
Phil. This, my dear Horatio, I have to say; that what you find fault with, and clamour against, as the most terrible evil in the world, self-denial, is really the greatest good and the highest self-gratitication. If indeed you use the word in the sense of some weak moralists, and much weaker divines, you will have just reason to laugh at it; but if you take it as understood by philosophers and men of sense, you will presently see her charms, and fly to her embraces, notwithstanding her demure looks, as absolutely necessary to produce eren your own darling sole good, pleasure ; for self-denial is never a duty, or a reasonable action, but as it is a natural means of procuring more pleasure than you can taste without it; so that this grave saint-like guide to happiness, as rough and dreadful as she has been made to appear, is in truth the kindest and most beautiful mistress in the world.
Hor. Prithee, Philocles, do not wrap yourself in allegory and metaphor. Why do you tease me thus ? I long to be satisfied, what is this philosophical self-denial; the necessity and reason of it: I am impatient, and all on fire. Explain, therefore, in your beautiful, natural, easy way of reasoning, what I am to understand by this grave lady of yours, with so forbidding downcast looks, and yet so absolutely necessary to my pleasures : I stand to embrace
her; for you know, pleasure I court under all shapes and forms.
Phil. Attend then, and you will see the reason of this philosophical self-denial. There can be no absolute perfection in any creature; because every creature is derived from something of a superior existence, and dependent on that source for its own existence. No created being can be all-wise, all. good, and all powerful, because his powers and capacities are finite and limited; consequently, whatever is created, must, in its own nature, be subject to irregularities, excess, and imperfections. All intelligent, rational agents, find in themselves a power of judging what kind of beings they are; what actions are proper to preserve them, and what consequences will generally attend them; what pleasures they are for, and to what degree their natures are capable of receiving them. All we have to do then, Horatio, is to consider, when we are surprised with a new object, and passionately desire to enjoy it, whether the gratifying that passion be consistent with the gratifying other passions and appetites equal, if not more necessary to us, and whether it consists with our happiness to-morrow, next week, or next year: but as we all wish to live, we are obliged by reason to take as much care for our fu. ture as our present happiness, and not to build one upon the ruins of the other : but if, through the strength and power of a present passion, and through want of attending to consequences, we have erred and exceeded the bounds which nature or reason have set us; we are then, for our own sakes, to refrain or deny ourselves a present momentary pleasure for a future, constant, and durable one ; so that this philosophical self-denial is only refusing to do an action which you strongly desire, because it is inconsistent with health, convenience, or circumstances in the world ; or, in other words, because it would cost you more than it was worth. You would lose by it, as a man of pleasure. Thus you see, Horatio, that self-denial is not only the most reasonable, but the most pleasant thing in the world.
Hor. We are just coming into town, so that we cannot pursue this argument any farther at present : you have said a great deal for nature, providence, and reason; happy are they who can follow such divine guides.
Phil. Horatio, good night ; I wish you wise in your pleasures. | Hor. I wish, Philocles, I could be as wise in my pleasures as you are pleasantly wise : your wisdom is agreeable, your virtue is amiable, and your philosophy the highest luxury. Adieu, thou enchanting reasoner.
A SECOND DIALOGUE
BETWEEN PHILOCLES AND HORATIO, CONCERNING
VIRTUE AND PLEASURE. From the Pennsylvania Gazette, No. 86, July 9,
1730. Phil. Dear Horatio, where hast thou been these three or four months ? What new adventures have you fallen upon since I met you in these delightful, all-inspiring fields, and wondered how such a pleasure-hunter as you could bear being alone ?
Hor. O Philocles ! thou best of friends, because a friend to reason and virtue! I am very glad to see you. Do not you remember I told you then, that some misfortunes in my pleasures had sent me to philosophy for relief? but now I do assure you I can, without a sigh, leave other pleasures for those of philosophy; I can hear the word reason mentioned, and virtue praised, without laughing. Do not I bid fair for conversion, think you ?
Phil. Very fair, Horatio; for I remember the time when reason, virtue, and pleasure were the same thing with you ; when you counted nothing good but what pleased, nor any thing reasonable but what you gained by; when you made a jest of a mind, and the pleasures of reflection; and elegantly placed your sole happiness, like the rest of the ani. mal creation, in the gratification of sense.
Hor. I did so; but in our last conversation, when walking upon the brow of this hill, and looking down on that broad, rapid river, and yon widelyextended, beautifully-varied plain, you taught me another doctrine : you showed me that self-denial, which, above all things, I abhorred, was really the greatest good, and the highest self-gratification, and absolutely necessary to produce even my own darling sole good-pleasure.
Phil. True; I told you that self-denial was never a duty, but when it was a natural means of procuring more pleasure than we could taste without it ; that as we all strongly desire to live, and to live only to enjoy; we should take as much care about our future as our present happiness, and not build one upon the ruins of the other; that we should look to the end, and regard consequences; and if, through want of attention, we had erred, and exceeded the bounds which nature had set us-we were then obliged, for our own sakes, to refrain or deny ourselves a present momentary pleasure, for a future, constant, and durable good.
Hor. You have shown, Philocles, that self-denial, which weak or interested men have rendered the most forbidding, is really the most delightful and amiable, the most reasonable and pleasant thing in the world. In a word, if I understand you aright, self-denial is, in truth, self-recognising, self-acknowledging, or self-owning. But now, my friend, you are to perform another promise, and show me the path that leads up to that constant, durable, and invariable good, which I have heard you so beautifully describe, and which you seem so fully to possess. Is not this good of yours a mere chimera ? Can any thing be constant in a world which is eternally changing, and which appears to exist by an everlasting revolution of one thing into another; and where every thing without us, and every thing within us, is in perpetual motion? What is this constant durable good then of yours ? Prithee, satisfy my soul, for I am all on fire, and impatient to enjoy her. Produce this eternal, blooming god. dess, with never-fading charms, and see whether I will not embrace her with as much eagerness and rapture as you.
Phil. You seem enthusiastically warm, Horatio : I will wait till you are cool enough to attend to the sober dispassionate voice of reason.
Hor. You mistake me, my dear Philocles : my warmth is not so great as to run away with my rea. son; it is only just raised enough to open my