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ry not excepted. That a negro-flave, who can neither read nor write, nor speak any European language, who is not permitted to do any thing but what his mafter commands, and who has not a fingle friend on earth, but is univerfally confidered and treated as if he were of a species inferior to the human; -that fuch a creature fhould fo distinguish himself among Europeans, as to be talked of through the world as a man of genius, is furely no reasonable expectation. To fuppofe him of an inferior fpecies, because he does not thus diftinguish himself, is just as rational, as to fuppofe any private European of an inferior fpecies, because he has not raised himself to the condition of royalty.
Had the Europeans been deftitute of the arts of writing, and working in iron, they might have remained to this day as barbarous as the natives of Africa and America. Nor is the invention of thefe arts to be afcribed to our fuperior capacity. The genius of the inventor is not always to be estimated according to the importance of the invention. Gunpowder, and the mariner's compafs, have produced wonderful revolutions in human affairs, and yet were accidental difcoveries. Such, probably, were the first effays in writing, and working in iron. Suppofe them the effects of contrivance, they were at least contrived by a few individuals; and if they required a fuperiority of underftanding
standing, or of fpecies, in the inventors, thofe inventors, and their defcendents, are the only perfons who can lay claim to the honour of that fuperiority.
That every practice and sentiment is barbarous which is not according to the ufages of modern Europe, feems to be a fundamental maxim with fome of our philofophers. Their remarks often put us in mind of the fable of the man and the lion. If negroes or Indians were difpofed to recriminate; if : a Lucian or a Voltaire, from the coast of Guinea, or from the Five Nations, were to pay us a vifit; what a picture of European manners might he prefent to his countrymen at his return! Nor would caricatura, or exaggeration, be neceffary to render it hideous. A plain historical account of fome of our most fashionable duellifts, gamblers, and adulterers, (to name no more), would exhibit fpecimens of brutish barbarity and ¿ fottish infatuation, fuch as might vie with
any that ever appeared in Kamschatka, California, or the land of Hottentots.
The natural inferiority of negroes is a favourite topic with fome modern writers. They mean perhaps to invalidate the authority of that Book, which declares, that "Eve was the mother of all living," and that "God hath made of one blood all na"tions of men, for to dwell on all the face "of the earth." And perhaps fome of them
them may have it in view to vindicate a certain barbarous piece of policy, which, though it does no honour to the Chriftian world, and is not, I believe, attended with pecuniary advantage to the commercial, has notwithstanding many patrons even in this age of light and liberty.But Britons are famous for generofity; a virtue in which it is eafy for them to excel both the Romans and the Greeks. Let it never be faid, that flavery is countenanced by the braveft and most generous people on earth; by a people who are animated with that heroic paffion, the love of liberty, beyond all nations ancient or modern; and the fame of whose toilfome, but unwearied perfeverance, in vindicating, at the expence of life and fortune, the facred rights of mankind, will strike terror into the hearts of fycophants and tyrants, and excite the admiration and gratitude of all good men to the latest posterity.
Confequences of Metaphyfical Scep
FTER all, it will perhaps be objected to this difcourfe, that I have laid too much stress upon the confequences of metaphyfical abfurdity, and reprefented them as much more dangerous than they are found to be in fact. I fhall be told, that many of the controverfies in metaphyfic are merely verbal ; and the errors proceeding from them of fo abftract a nature, that philofophers run little risk, and the vulgar no risk at all, of being influenced by them in practice. It will be faid, that I never heard of any man who fell a facrifice to BERKELEY'S fyitem, by breaking his neck over a material precipice, which he had taken for an ideal one; nor of any Fatalift, whofe morals were, upon the whole, more exceptionable than thofe of the afferters of free agency: in a word, that whatever effect fuch tenets may have upon the understanding, they feldom or never produce any fenfible effects upon the heart. in confidering this objection, I muft
must confine myself to a few topics; for the fubject to which it leads is of vast extent. The influence of the metaphyfical fpirit upon art, fcience, and manners, would furnish matter for a large treatise. It will fuffice at present to show, that metaphysical errors are not harmless, but may produce, and actually have produced, fome very important and interesting confequences.
I begin with an observation often made, and indeed obvious enough, namely, That happiness is the end of our being; and that knowledge, and even truth itself, are valuable only as they tend to promote it. Every ufelefs ftudy is a pernicious thing; because it wastes our time, and mifemploys our faculties. To prove that metaphyfical abfurdities do no good, would therefore fufficiently justify the prefent undertaking. But it requires no deep fagacity to be able to prove a great deal more.
We acknowledge, however, that all metaphyfical errors are not equally dangerous. There is an obfcurity in the abstract sciences, as they are commonly taught, which is often no bad prefervative against their influence. This obfcurity is fometimes unavoidable, on account of the infufficiency of language; fometimes it is owing to the fpiritless or flovenly ftyle of the writer; and fometimes it is affected; as when a philofopher, from prudential confiderations, thinks fit to disguise any occafional attack on the