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.We shall stand in need of no casuistic rules to di-rect our conduct.These it is often impossible to accommodate to all the differentshades and gradations of circumstance, character, and situation, to differences anddistinctions which, though not imperceptible, are, by their nicety and delicacy,often altogether undefinable.In that beautiful tragedy of Voltaire, the Orphan ofChina, while we admire the magnanimity of Zamti, who is willing to sacrifice thelife of his own child, in order to preserve that of the only feeble remnant of hisancient sovereigns and masters; we not only pardon, but love the maternal ten-derness of Idame, who, at the risque of discovering the important secret of herhusband, reclaims her infant from the cruel hands of the Tartars, into which it hadbeen delivered.Chap.IIOf the order in which Societies are by nature recommended to our BeneficenceThe same principles that direct the order in which individuals are recommended1to our beneficence, direct that likewise in which societies are recommended toit.Those to which it is, or may be of most importance, are first and principallyrecommended to it.The state or sovereignty in which we have been born and educated, and under2the protection of which we continue to live, is, in ordinary cases, the greatest so-ciety upon whose happiness or misery, our good or bad conduct can have muchinfluence.It is accordingly, by nature, most strongly recommended to us.Notonly we ourselves, but all the objects of our kindest affections, our children, ourparents, our relations, our friends, our benefactors, all those whom we naturallylove and revere the most, are commonly comprehended within it; and their pros-perity and safety depend in some measure upon its prosperity and safety.It is bynature, therefore, endeared to us, not only by all our selfish, but by all our privatebenevolent affections.Upon account of our own connexion with it, its prosperityand glory seem to reflect some sort of honour upon ourselves.When we compareit with other societies of the same kind, we are proud of its superiority, and mor-tified in some degree, if it appears in any respect below them.All the illustriouscharacters which it has produced in former times (for against those of our owntimes envy may sometimes prejudice us a little), its warriors, its statesmen, its po-ets, its philosophers, and men of letters of all kinds; we are disposed to view withthe most partial admiration, and to rank them (sometimes most unjustly) aboveVI.ii.2 206 The Theory of Moral Sentiments Adam Smiththose of all other nations.The patriot who lays down his life for the safety, oreven for the vain-glory of this society, appears to act with the most exact pro-priety.He appears to view himself in the light in which the impartial spectatornaturally and necessarily views him, as but one of the multitude, in the eye ofthat equitable judge, of no more consequence than any other in it, but bound at alltimes to sacrifice and devote himself to the safety, to the service, and even to theglory of the greater number.But though this sacrifice appears to be perfectly justand proper, we know how difficult it is to make it, and how few people are capableof making it.His conduct, therefore, excites not only our entire approbation, butour highest wonder and admiration, and seems to merit all the applause whichcan be due to the most heroic virtue.The traitor, on the contrary, who, in somepeculiar situation, fancies he can promote his own little interest by betraying tothe public enemy that of his native country; who, regardless of the judgment ofthe man within the breast, prefers himself, in this respect so shamefully and sobasely, to all those with whom he has any connexion; appears to be of all villainsthe most detestable.The love of our own nation often disposes us to view, with the most malignant3jealousy and envy, the prosperity and aggrandisement of any other neighbouringnation.Independent and neighbouring nations, having no common superior to de-cide their disputes, all live in continual dread and suspicion of one another.Eachsovereign, expecting little justice from his neighbours, is disposed to treat themwith as little as he expects from them [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

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