The Apocalypse of Nature

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The Apocalypse of Nature  (1790) 
by John Stewart

The Apocalypse of Nature, written by the English traveller and philosopher John "Walking" Stewart, was first published in 1790. In 1835 a revised edition under the title The Revelation of Nature was published by George H. Evans, who corrected orthographical and grammatical inaccuracies in the original and added his own notes. (Evans' edition should not be confused with John Stewart's long verse-poem also titled The Revelation of Nature, published in 1795.) The text below is that of the 1835 edition (source), with Evans' notes in square brackets. The original 1790 edition is being digitized here.



What a hallowed and important crisis is that, when a glimpse of the intellectual or moral world breaks in upon the mind—what complicated reflections of regret and astonishment arise, while it strives to arrange and disclose its conceptions and ideas! The mind, according to history, tradition and astronomical calculation, has been operating for 5000 years, with a ratio of improvement equal to its experience in knowledge, and yet has been so confined by the narrow boundaries of the animal and physical world, that the existence of an intellectual world has never suggested itself even to the imagination—What an inexplicable problem! Through the same long epoch, the whole power of the mind has been employed to preserve existence by means that renders it miserable. What a grievous and melancholy reflection!

How shall we attempt the solution of this problem—how offer consolation to afflicted thought?

"Truth is dangerous to be displayed."

This is the detestable axiom whose exposed falsehood will produce the solution of the problem, and the consolation of human sorrows.

The vanity of erudition and the cowardice of animal sensibility, labor to propagate this false doctrine.

To indolent and weak minds memory is made the substitute for judgment, and the facts and chronology of ancient history become its criterion for the present conduct and counsel of nations. To minds of great animal sensibility, and little judgment, every reformation or change portends danger and destruction, as the patient racked and tortured with the disease of the stone, sees, in the relief of lithotomy, all the horror of instantaneous death.

Men of great animal knowledge and ingenuity, in a comparative view of nations, fear the progress of truth, lest it produce wisdom and virtue to humanize their own country, which losing in consequence its ferocity, would be invaded and enslaved by the vice and folly of their neighbors. They do not reflect upon the irresistible force of truth, which, whenever it appears, will remain fixed as a sun, and all the powers of error, aided by art, can never force it below the moral horizon, though they may cause occasional fogs and mists, to interrupt, like passing clouds, its meridian splendor. Animal sensibility would find an asylum in its congenial rays, which could not fail to bring all humanized matter into the happy state of universal sympathy, and, rising above the horizon of humanity, would mark the aurora of intellectual existence, or well-being of all sensitive Nature.

All mankind are agreed in their lamentations for the miseries of human nature, and all do, or must agree, that the only remedy is to be found in the intellectual faculties of man. Under what diabolical fascination, or spell of the demon Error, must he act, who consents to chain those faculties, lest their operations should produce the increase instead of the remedy of those miseries.

In the primitive state of society, men removed many physical ills by the power of intellect; and those ills which may be called moral, or ignorant institutions, shall they be perpetuated by prohibiting the use of intellect or exposition of thought, at the very time humanity stands in most need of it? It may be the interest of priests and kings to maintain such a doctrine, to persuade men, like the sheep, to suffer the aggregation of the fold; but when, by the increase of intellect, arising from the free communication of thought, they shall find that the accidental evil of the wolves is to be preferred to the confirmed treachery and tyranny of shepherds, who, for their own personal advantage tear off their fleeces, and perpetuate their miserable existence; Humanity will then, with one common consent, burst from the chains of error, and hail the glorious dawn of the sun of truth, bringing the first day of light to intellectual existence, and the first day of happiness to all sensitive Nature.

For any defect or inelegance of style in the following pages, I myself possess, and offer also to my readers, this consolatory reflection;

Error will be divested of all the power of her insidious blandishments of eloquence; and Truth will be displayed in all the beauty of her nakedness.



The incomprehensible cause of motion having hitherto been adored by mankind, under the personification of a deity, with attributes suited to the imagination of the votaries, it is no wonder that more than nineteen twentieths of animate matter, or the brute creation, has been sacrificed to the cruelty, and the caprice of mankind, who created the deity and his laws for the protection of their particular species alone.

The Apocalypse of Nature, which testifies and exposes the intimate connection and relation of all matter, must necessarily destroy this partial demon, and his more partial laws, and substitute in his place, a power that demands no personification; and this is the effect of motion, or its instrument of operation, the Volition of Man, which is the source of all [moral] good and evil.

This then is the true and comprehensible power, which demands no adoration, but only the study and attention of mankind to bring it into operation, which may be effected by extending the force of the intellectual faculties. The means to produce this first of all intelligible causes, must be by association; for as by the increase of number of bodies, greater physical powers are acquired; so also is intellectual momentum increased by collective minds; so that if an union of all the inhabitants of this globe was procured, the increase of corporeal and of mental strength would be parallel.

Such an union of the mental powers, produced by the free communication and intercourse of thought of all mankind, would form such a perfect intelligence, or primary cause to direct a wise and universal volition, as would bring the moral world from its chaos to order and system, by exposing to every individual the knowledge of Self, and its connection with Nature. Man would then exist in all the plenitude of his essence, connecting himself with all sensitive matter. He would stop the vibrations of violence upon the great chain of nature, and the moulds of animation would be perfectionated to communicate happiness to the universal inter-revolution of matter; and though the chain of Nature might be agitated from time to time, by opposition to the offensive volition of destructive animals, as ignorant men, beasts of prey, and venemous reptiles; yet its vibration would subside when the cause was removed, and sympathy would resume its power to eternize the tranquillity and happiness of all sensitive Nature.

The adoration of the effect of moral motion in volition, or self in system, should be formed by the example of the Guebers, or worshippers of the Sun, who contemplated its effects alone, and direct its congenial rays to the purposes of subsistence, and comforts of life. So should the children of Nature direct the congenial emotions of the volition, or self, in system, to procure a happiness to all sensitive Nature, the only adoration a pure and perfect intelligence can admit of. Were the Guebers to neglect the effect, and reason only upon the cause or essence of the sun, the physical world would be affected with the same disorders that the moral world is now subject to, from the preposterous employment of thought about the cause, and not the effect, of intelligence.

The Apocalypse of Nature[edit]








All things that make an impression upon the senses of animated matter, contain in themselves a power or propensity to motion, which power is augmented or varied by the different combinations of bodies.

Matter, which in its dissolution, separates, can never be annihilated, and though it may disperse into an infinity of small particles, which, making no impression upon the gross organs of sense, may disappear, yet must continue to be in the great mass of existence; to which, as it is impossible to suppose a beginning, it is also impossible to suppose an end, and it may, therefore, be called eternal.

Matter is sufficiently defined to all the purposes of useful intelligence, by the word substance.

Motion is that substance in action.

Volition is the inceptive motion of the moral world, and the direction of this, in a right line to happiness, or well-being, is the only operation upon which the intellectual powers ought to be employed. Secondary causes and effects should alone be investigated, and primary or connection abandoned. We know that desire is the motive cause of pleasure, which effect is also the object of desire; but the connection between them can never be known; and as it is the effect alone which brings any utility, the augmentation and improvement of its causes alone merit attention.

The operation of the intellectual powers is to be guided and governed by utility, till it has discovered the line or orbit of happiness: then speculation and abstraction may be indulged in, as if unsuccessful in discovery they will be useful in amusement; whereas at present they serve but to confound the mental faculty, and embarrass it in the search of the right line to happiness.

How vain are the researches of the finely-constituted faculties in the discovery of the well-being of animated matter, if the errant powers of some minds labor to prove its non-existence, whose sophistical reasonings, like the destructive eye of the basilisk, dazzles the fear-confounded faculties of the self-devoted bird. I have examined the syllogisms of these sophists, that seem to have confounded all philosophers, and they appear to me such impertinent vagaries of the verbal ingenuity of man, that they form a deplorable evidence of the distance of the human mind from its intellectual acme. The mind arrived at this state possesses full power to procure happiness to its essence, and all abstraction beyond that point, proves its weakness by its impertinence.



Is the force or soul of matter, and cause of all action; [its source is] impenetrable to all human knowledge.

The noblest production of motion is the animation of matter, which it combines into an organization capable of much action; the long continuance of which uses the machine, and dissolves it into its primary state, from which it again returns into animation, and forms an eternal revolution of combination and dissolution.

The most complicated animal machine is that called



This machine is formed of particles of matter, organized so as to resemble a corded instrument of music of five strings which correspond with the five senses. The intellectual faculties hold the bow and play, and the passions form the stops upon the handle of the instrument, and if just tones are produced, simultaneously or successively, their harmony or melody forms what is called an agreeable tune or air, or well-being and happiness, of which man himself possesses consciousness, and in this power he is superior to, and differs from the inanimate instrument.

The inceptive power of motion can no more be accounted for in the animal, than in any other part of matter; nor should the discovery at all interest the mind, being obviously impossible.

The volition or operation of the intellectual faculties to procure this agreeable air, or well-being of its essence, is all that merits the concern of a well-organized man.

The animal man is a subject that demands the whole attention and capacity of intellect, to investigate, not the origin, but means and end of his existence. On his action or motion depends the well-being of all animate and inanimate matter. We have proved that animals are ducts, or canals of identity, to receive matter in its eternal revolution. The connection or communion of matter with matter is seen by the constant transmutation of it in aliment, dissolved aud digested by animated bodies; which bodies, decomposed and absorbed by the elements, return to vegetation and animation, and continue this change, (not death,) of existence, to all eternity.

Death or change of existence is the dissolution of identity, which is but the tune of the instrument, and has no connection with Nature, which is formed by matter alone. How this is formed we know as little of, as of the connection between fire and heat; but we have an instinctive and conscious testimony, that we are immortal parts of the great integer—Nature; that we have existed from, and shall continue to exist to all eternity, though our identities have been interrupted by the weakness of reminiscence, or changed by decay or death.

A weak mind, that attaches itself to identity alone, may not be able to conceive its eternal connection with Nature, but I defy a mind, that has arrived at the acme of intellect and considers the indestructibility of matter to separate itself from its eternal integer, though it can have no knowledge of the mode of connection.[1]

The utility of this doctrine is indisputable, as it shows us that we shall participate, in present and future, of all the evil that our vice or violence may bring upon the great mass of Nature, in the same manner, that the sobriety or intemperance of youth prepares a healthy or disordered old age, and that no clemency of an imaginary power or deity, can relieve us from the present or future consequences of our own actions.

Such a religion or doctrine would not fail, if universally taught, to render all mankind wise, virtuous and happy. The tyrant would tremble at the cruelty he prepares for another identity—the violent or vicious man would cease to perpetuate his brutality, lest his succeeding identity be animated to a world of misery; and the brute creation would be entitled to more humanity than our own species, lest their dumbness might conceal the pain which man inflicts, and lest he in future, assuming the identity of a brute, might suffer that pain, his inhumanity had caused and perpetuated.

The absurd and cruel institutions of society tyrannize over Nature, by multiplying the wants and classes of humanity, by substituting power to peace, labor to repose, riches to happiness. Original violence having destroyed truth in its abstract, or in the great circle and system; mankind, by operating in a contracted system of relative truth, perpetuate misery for their present and future identities.

When the human capacity shall arrive at intellectual existence, and conceive intuitively the sacred doctrine of the unity and eternity of all Nature, the whole moral economy of humanity will be changed—the system of Nature will be known—self will be discovered—happiness will be studied—and man, in the plenitude of intellectual existence, will be brought to a state of enlightened Nature, or absolute liberty directed and controlled by a wise volition, to obtain the end of well-being to self and fellow-selves, or all sensitive creatures.

  1. The river that is lost in the ocean, though its identity is no more, does not cease to exist, but undergoes all the agitations and evaporations of the sea, and returns into rivers again; and thus it is with the connection of man and Nature.

The Volition[edit]


Or will is produced both by physical and by moral causes; it is first examined by the Judgment, and in proportion as it is, or is not, thereby influenced, it effects an harmonious or a discordant tune.

The volition of man may be regarded as the source of moral motion, and takes its birth from outward or inward impression. This affection in man, unaccompanied by wisdom, is often dangerous to his well-being, and is very inferior to that of brutes, which instinct directs in a right line to their well-being. Hence the origin of coercion, to restrain the volition which would have answered all the end of wisdom, had not mankind, from an increase of population, seperated into several societies, each of which became, as it were, an individual, with its own unwise volition. Different associations having no coertion to restrain them, waged war on each other, and their violence or evil volition unrestrained, forced mankind into the asylum of civilization, where they met coertion, a monster who devoured their liberty and happiness, in order to assure to them their miserable existence.

In proportion as wisdom augments or advances, coertion must diminish or recede, and this is exemplified in the present state of different nations; those possess most liberty who possess most wisdom. The latter must always precede; for should the former dare to assume the precedence, it changes into licentiousness, and wisdom flies from its society, and to preserve existence, coertion must be called in, though to that demon, happiness is sacrificed upon the altar of despotism.

The Judgment[edit]


Is the power of the mental qualities, to assort, to relate, to compare the ideas presented to it, to draw therefrom just inferences or deductions, and to direct and preserve the volition in a strait line to truth.

It is the great moral excellence of the machine called man; and if this machine is so organized as to allow the perfect operation of judgment, it must, when played upon, ever produce a melodious air.

Other machines that are less perfectly organized, and where this faculty may be wanting, are still capable of performing the same melody, but then they must follow the example of the first, which answers to the leader of the band, and they may acquire the habit of playing well, though they do not in so eminent a degree feel the consciousness, or know the cause of the melodious tune, which they produce by imitation, as the leader does by invention, by which it must receive a greater proportion of pleasure.

The faculty of judgment is the sovereign of the mental powers, and places its throne in the mind, holding a most despotic empire over the volition, whose residence is [figuratively said to be] in the heart. This it must treat with uncommon severity; for upon the least indulgence it rebels, and drives judgment from its throne, and even when it assumes an abject posture of supplication to wait with resignation the sovereign decree, its treachery must still be suspected, and it must not be suffered to approach even the steps of the throne; nay, with all these precautions, it has been known to menace its sovereign, and influence decrees, which judgment imagined were of pure motive. It often employs an officious emissary, named vanity, who whispers in the ear of judgment to obtain a partial decree for volition concealed behind its flowing robes. In short, judgment can never be secure till it has elevated its throne to a pinnacle, where the whispers of the emissary, and the supplications of volition, can never reach.

If we attend to the polemical writings of mis-named philosophers, and the conversation of modern disputants, we shall be sensible on what a low and humble throne judgment is seated, and what power the emissary, vanity, possesses; for their disputes tend not to form, but only to support an opinion; and with them truth and triumph are synonimous. If we would demonstrate by observation the power of volition over judgment, we might notice the clubs in St. James' street, and the conduct of some august personages, who resemble and equal in their great powers and excellence of intelligence, reflection and anticipation, the Caribbee Indians, who play for their beds in the morning, and cry for them at night, as do the former for their estates.

Having, by this allegory, shown the powers and properties of the animal machine, Man, I shall proceed to investigate his essence and end of existence; and first of his Essence.

The Essence of Man[edit]


We find in that combination of matter, called man, two powers, one passive, and the other active. The first is the corporeal power, formed of the visible and tangible parts, called body: the other is the result of the organization of that body, forming the power vulgarly called soul. The body, by its organs of sense, as eyes, ears, nose, palate, and various members, communicates with the soul, and conveys to it that intelligence, which the soul administers in procuring well-being to the body, and constantly directs it to the objects of pleasure, and warns it against those of pain. Where these component parts are perfect, the machine is moved in a right line to well-being, unless interrupted by some extraneous power over which it has no control.

The corporeal part of this machine is, as it were a canal or duct, to receive extraneous matter, and to communicate to it in its momentary passage the pleasure of consciousness or existence; for the foreign matter incorporates every moment in the machine, by respiration and aliment, and passes with such velocity, that thought can form no period of absolute, corporeal, or mental identity. The action of the memory, which lasts no longer than the nerve, its agent, vibrates, conveys epochas of pain and pleasure, called existence, to the circulating matter, and this is what is vulgarly understood by identity, which ceases, upon the decomposition of the corporeal and mental union, and releases itself in all Nature, from which it is impossible, even in thought, to separate it.

All Nature, that is, all its parts, called I, you, they, which are, were, and will be eternally a part of Nature, are interested in preserving these canals, or selfish identities of persons, in order that matter may be assured happiness and well-being in its eternal revolution.

The essence of man may be simply and intelligibly defined to be; Matter organized so as to procure a volition, and to possess means, to gratify the same, and to procure judgment, which may direct that volition and means to well-being and happiness of the man. Whatever opposes that judgment, must be inimical to man, as what aids it must be friendly.

Nothing proves so strongly the false principles of civil institutions, as the political tenet of necessity to keep the people in ignorance. This tenet is justified upon considerations of relative truth: for example; suppose any one nation, to cultivate truth; in proportion as this advanced, coercion would recede, and ultimately leave mankind in a state of absolute liberty, which would be employed in enjoying happiness, or a slate of pleasure, repose and content. If the neighboring nations continued in a state of ignorance, coercion would oblige them to substitute wealth and power to pleasure, labor and care to repose, and ambition and avarice to content. This disposition would lead them to invade their happy neighbors, in order to subdue and enslave them; but moral principles are like seed on the earth, which in many cases may be dispersed, and trod to destruction, yet some will not fail to take root, and these will invigorate and multiply, and may eventually cover the whole earth with vegetation.

Nations tremble, therefore, at this effect of truth, and dread the revolution or innovation, which may change its acorns into oaks, though these latter must ultimately vegetate over all Nature, and shade it from the injuries of ignorance and violence.

The innovations that truth must naturally bring about, would not appal strong minds, if they reflected, that the agitation which the falling pebble of truth causes in the centre of the lake, subsides into easy undulations, which spread themselves to the extremities, without injuring the waters. The innovations of error are alone to be dreaded. Truth and Nature, oppose the recoiling frothy waves, and never suffer a calm upon the lake of humanity, while error like a hurricane, continues to trouble its waters.

Of what little value is the present period of existence, compared to eternity?—how important is that reform which promises eternal happiness to our immortal connections with Nature, when this essence dissolves, and breaks our present form of connection with Nature. Since the elements in motion may convey our connections to the climes of Africa, some members of the British senate, not yet arrived at a state of intellectual existence, who vote the continuation of African slavery and misery, no doubt perpetuate that injustice and cruelty to their own connections, or future essence in Nature. However this doctrine of connection may, by its novelty and importance, dazzle or confound minds unused to abstract contemplation, or the common exercise of thought; to an intellectual mind, that can invert its powers upon self, it appears intuitive, easy and almost demonstrative, from the universal transformation of matter into matter, and the impossibility to conceive its cessation, though we cannot imagine its mode of connection with Nature.

Let us now consider what are the causes that disorder these canals, or oppose this machine, man, in his progress on the right line to well-being, or happiness. First, let them be considered in an Individual State.

In this state his opponents or enemies are, physical ills, as hunger, beasts, sickness, disorder of the elements, and enemies of his own species. These alternately interrupt his repose, and destroy him. His mental faculties, in a progressive improvement, lead him to association, which may guard him against these evils; but as the faculties of the mind are slow in improvement, association, will be slow in its effect, but like all parts of Nature, will move in a circle of perfection and destruction. Let us now view the animal man in a

State of Association[edit]


The first state of association of men was domestic, and it seems to have been well adapted to the enjoyment of animal happiness; or corporeal well-being, by their mutual aid in building houses, nursing in sickness, procuring provision, increasing defence against the common enemy, and improving their mental powers and sensual pleasures, by inter-communication. In this state, however it might be corporeally grateful, the mental faculties had no power, either to confer consciousness of existence, or intellectual happiness, and could not arrest the evil progress of a too extensive association, which introduced the different violences of personal tyranny, assumption of property, and public or civilized coercion, which destroyed all liberty and with it happiness.

The progress of the extension of association, will no doubt, at length so improve the mental faculties, that it will discover that state, individual and social, which the essence of man requires, to procure to it well-being or happy existence.

As long as individual violence exists, so long must exist public coercion: but this should only be exercised over the violators. I know but one other instance where it has the slightest pretext of justification, which is, in compelling the individual to labor on his proportion of soil, which gives subsistence to the society; but this would be rendered absolutely unnecessary by the example of education; for as the labor of one man would maintain twenty, the unconquerable indolence of a few perverse individuals, who might resist the force of education, can never be a sufficient reason to employ coercion, which is the demon of all sensitive Nature. Besides, the example of many Indian tribes, who cultivate the soil in common, and have substituted the habit of custom and education for coercion, demonstrates this to be the error of civilization, and shows the superiority of uncorrupted instinct over corrupted and prejudiced reason, by conducting the animal, man, nearer to a state of well-being; though this can only be perfected and secured by enlightened reason.

The present mode of association is founded upon ignorance and error. The competition of nations for riches and power has obliged them to sacrifice happiness to those objects, and states and individuals are both the victims of this folly.

Let us review the life of man in the present state of civilization. The poor man, upon whose labor depends the riches of the state, is, by the avarice and policy of the great, obliged to such excessive toil, as reduces him to a state of mere animal existence, and a premature and painful dissolution. He is so stimulated by the goad of necessity, that his mind, attached to the object of his labor, leaves him no repose, in which alone the faculty of thought can extend itself, and acquire consciousness of existence; so that his body becomes a painful duct or stage of matter, in its eternal revolution. The rich and powerful, who cause this evil, are themselves no less unhappy, though relieved from the goad of necessity, which they inflict upon others, to urge them to excessive labor. They do not labor sufficiently to procure themselves health, and this reduces them to a state of languor, from which they seek relief by the occupation of the mind, which, though it may cure that disorder, causes, by sedentary habits, a variety of others more painful.

The moral laws of chastity oppress with greater violence the rich females than the poor. The former, from their luxurious diet, derive irritable habits of blood, which inflame the passions, and these are incessantly exposed to the temptations attendant on the mode of conduct in high life; while the poor are freed from this torment, and its various causes. I allude only to the females; for the males, who have contrived by superior power to impose this law upon the weaker sex, disavow its duties; and disease, premature and painful old age and death revenge their treachery; for by imposing continence upon the whole gentle sex, the few, whose sense and sensibility see and break through the cobweb fetters of imagination, and claim their rightful asylum of Nature, from the smallness of their number, have to seek subsistence from the brutal lust of their tyrants, and become repositories, or common sewers of such pestilential diseases, that man, like the phenix, procreates in a burning nest.

The laws of chastity are intended to promote population, and population to increase defence. Would it not be wiser to consider, whether an unhappy people ought to be augmented, or desire to be defended; and whether it is acting as becomes intellectual beings, conscious of their eternal connection with the integer of Nature, to augment the quantity of matter in animal revolution, while the ducts or stages of identities are formed to communicate misery to passive matter, and perpetuate it to the active, or procreator.

Matter, continued[edit]




The mind is overwhelmed with astonishment when it reflects, that the intellectual faculties seem to have lost their natural gravitation towards self, and are constantly propelled from their true centre. They have formed, or imagined a knowledge of motion, by an universal intelligence—they have discovered the laws of planetary revolutions of distant worlds—they have discovered the various laws of Nature in the parts of their own inhabited world—and yet the centre self is as unknown and neglected, as if it was a non-entity.

What can be the cause of this moral phenomenon? It would seem as if Nature had, by the propelling force of prejudice and error, elevated the mind to a great distance from its centre that in returning, by falling from such a height, its impulsive weight might carry it to the centre of gravity or self, where it would find eternal repose.

The fictions or the corruptions of truth, made by the imagination when considering universal motion, are absurd and useless; and it is unworthy of human reason to combat the errors of mankind, formed by the reveries of the imagination upon this subject. The only dignified and useful operation of the mental faculties, unbiassed by the prejudices of custom and education, is to consider the motion and nature of self.

My mind is filled with amazement when I review the past ages of the world, and find every subject that Thought and Nature present, investigated with zeal, erudition and capacity, and the subject Self, of such infinite importance that its very comparison annihilates every other, almost without mention, and absolutely without investigation.

What applause and glory have Ptolemy, Copernicus and Newton obtained by discovering the planetary system? What benefit has mankind received from them? I know of none.

What will that mortal deserve who shall discover, or rather, form the moral system, and prevent the terrestrial bodies from moving in eccentric and destructive collision? He will be amply recompensed by the proportion of happiness, which he, as a part of the great integer of Nature, will receive from his zealous study; for that mind which has force to make such a discovery, can receive no recompense from the articulated sounds of praise bestowed upon it by its fellows.

Self is that chain which connects Man with Nature; and though its vibration is strong upon the sense of feeling, thought can give it no form. It revolves about the universal centre of Nature in the moral world, and is connected with the infinite orbit of other selfs, by the radii of sympathy, which is to the moral, what attraction is to the physical system.

The quality of willing for self alone, may be called its attraction of cohesion, and the quality of assimilating through the medium of persuasion, its own will and the will of others, the attraction of gravitation or centripetal force, analagous to that of material bodies. With these two qualities every moral self would revolve about its integer Nature, as a centre; and the dreadful collisions of humanity ceasing to form a chaos; it would move in all the harmony and order of the celestial bodies, round the sun of truth, in the orbits of enlightened and intellectual existence.

The first blow given by man, in a state of ignorance, to the chain or connection of Self and Nature, by violating the will of a fellow-creature, has caused such a dreadful vibration, as threatens an eternal durability: but the epocha of its relaxation or diminution will arrive, when human reason shall be declared free, and every thins that checks its operation shall be regarded as an enemy to human nature.

In proportion as the faculty of thought extends itself, it diminishes, the impulse of this vibration or passion; and must, in its perfection, elevate the mind to a state of intellectual existence; when absolute moral liberty, directed by wisdom, will lead man to a state of well-being and happiness.



To what a sublime position must that being elevate himself, and what superior excellence of the intellectual faculties must he possess, who can look down into and comprehend this labyrinth, whose paths are inexplorable to the man who walks within its confines.

Self, as a part of all Nature, is immortal and universal, and though identity of matter and mind separate, and their combination or identity is annihilated by death; yet self as a part of Nature, can never be annihilated; self pervades all Nature in its revolutions and operations, and self is as much concerned in the present or future health and happiness of all Nature, as the hand is concerned in that of the body.

Men who have no superstitious fears, suppose the dissolution of the body to end their concern with Nature; but if their mental faculties were still more enlightened, they would see that particular combinations of matter, called intellectualized bodies, are but stations or inns to receive matter in its revolution, and that those inns are to be regulated by laws and policy, to give comfort and pleasure to matter in its eternal revolution or passage, and from which self can never separate its connection.

Matter may be divided into two parts, intellectualized and unintellectualized, and these are constantly changing places; so that the former by wise operations, labors for the happiness of both. By education and constitution good moulds are formed to receive matter, and by a wise government happy inns or resting places are provided; and while intelligent matter enjoys this happiness which it has produced, it prepares happiness for unintellectualized matter also and perpetuates it for its own return in the general revolution.

This power of the human mind to separate from its own identity, and generalize itself with that of Nature, presents the same difficulty to civilized and improved, though not perfect understandings, as the eternal durability of matter would to a savage mind. He sees matter dissolve, and therefore thinks it destroyed; so improved minds, seeing individual identity apparently annihilated, cannot eternalize it with the identity of Nature.

The novelty of this idea must also increase the difficulty, for it may first arise in a mind employed in contemplating its own ideas, and not learning those of others; in the latter case the faculty of thought may not be improved, yet the technical or external operations of the mind must be so, by acquiring the science of logic, which gives body and power of communication to thought; without which the mind cannot transfer its wisdom to another object, which is useful, and even necessary by assimilating those objects to itself in order to form social happiness.

This universal identity or unity of all Nature has also the proofs of probability from intellectual inference; it demonstrates itself plainly to the senses by sympathy.

The cries of an animal suffering pain, affect with pain every sensible animal within hearing; and the acclamation of joy affects with pleasure in the same manner, though not so generally.

If A feels the pain of B, and the latter only feels the cause, there must be an occult relation between the two bodies; and this can be explained only by supposing them parts of the same integer, and their specific identities and bodies component parts of the universal mass and identity of Nature.

Utility is the only light or beacon, which ought to guide the intellectual faculty in its progress towards well-being or happiness.

Metaphysicians constantly pass the point of utility when they go beyond the volition of man; for this is the true source of moral motion, which is to arrange moral bodies in the intellectual system of well-being or happiness; and for the formation, control and guidance of this volition, all true and pure intellect will operate, and neglect all trivial pursuits of extraneous knowledge of art and science, which should be permitted to occupy the labors of the mind only when it has arrived at the height of perfection, and may then serve to augment the pleasures and comforts of intellectual existence, without impeding the progress or energy necessary to arrive at that point.

To promote the study of self, great contemplation and much solitude is necessary; for in the world, or society, vanity is such an enemy to truth, that it constantly prefers and recommends error, which marks the triumph of opinion, as investigation, indecision and doubt imply ignorance. Hence that impertinent logomachy of private conversation, where loquacity is mistaken for ability, and where, surrounded by ignorance, glow-worm like, it shines brightest in the dark.

Hence those long harangues in public assemblies, which by fatiguing the memory, confound the judgment, and force the auditors into such a labyrinth of error, that the clue of decision has not length enough to reach from the exit of truth through the extensive mazes of a wandering imagination.

The mind of great vigor, that proceeds upon the search of truth, must resolve never to be ashamed of ignorance, but only of error, and the moment this resolution is formed, the success of the pursuit is assured; for true wisdom consists in knowing how little is to be known, and that this little is, however, sufficient for the purposes of well-being and happiness.

I pronounce, without the least hesitation, all learned or ingenious men, in the pursuit of the arts and sciences, to be void of wisdom, and absolute fools, unless they have first obtained a knowledge of self. This being procured, other studies may be followed as matter of pleasure and amusement.

Mankind have hitherto confounded the two qualities, knowledge and wisdom; many have possessed the former, and in a most eminent degree; but few the latter, even in the smallest degree; and Sir Isaac Newton, when compared to beings endowed with wisdom, is, as the poet observed, a mere ape, and all his knowledge becomes puerility in comparison with wisdom, or the knowledge of self.

What benefit is it to mankind to discover the laws of the natural world, which they cannot improve, in preference to moral laws, upon which their existence and happiness depend? If one millionth part of the intellectual labor of man, that has been employed on the former, had been bestowed on the latter, the golden age of the poets would have been verified, and man would, ages ago, have obtained a state of intellectual existence, and enlightened Nature.

Personal Identity[edit]


I shall consider as existing in the essence of man; it seems formed of or consists in the action of the brain and nerves, which are the causes of intellect; when this action ceases, memory ceases, and with it identity, for many remember nothing that occurred before the age of ten, and none before the age of two years; so that identity is often annihilated during the existence of the body. Identity of mind and body can never be fixed by matter, for that transmutes and exchanges itself for fresh matter every moment, and the mind suffers the same changes; so that identity dwells only in the action of the nervous system, which communicates and perpetuates itself to fresh matter; and causes this canal or mould of matter to be sensible of pain and pleasure; and a higher consciousness of intellectual existence of I, you, and they, directs the machine to pleasure, and teaches it to avoid pain, and proves that the dissolution of I, you, and they, by death, or by want of memory, is the same thing. Nature will perpetuate your identity in her own; nerves will vibrate in future identities, in which you will participate as you did in the personal one at two years old, though you have lost all remembrance of it; and I, you, and they, mean no more than parts of the eternal integer, Nature.

I, you, and they, being seperated into moulds, into which Nature runs its plastic matter, take particular forms, and these being used or broken, are restored to the great mass, fermented or mixed up therewith, and return to the mould as before. Of the potter who executes this work, or the cause of motion in matter, we can have no idea.

All attempts of the human mind to discover the first cause of motion, are as weak and puerile an act as jumping up to catch at a star; an enlightened mind never attempts to discover the primary cause of motion, even in its own existence, but contents itself with the secondary causes producing volition, and will entirely occupy itself to discover means to direct that motion or volition, with which it is impelled in a direct line to well-being or happiness.

The known causes of volition are hunger, lust and fear; the first to support, the second to propagate, and the third to preserve the existence of the animal; these, the known causes of moral motion, called passions are conveyed by means of the nerves to the mind. Let us now observe, what are the powers to direct these passions to their end.

Impressions made upon the animal by means of the senses or corporeal nerves, terminate in the brain, and form what is called the mind, which is made up of the faculties of conception, memory and judgment; conception collects the outward objects, or forms types thereof; memory preserves them when once received; and judgment, by associating them properly, gives the sentiment or opinion, which is the cause of volition and action. These form a triumvirate, which, if the colleagues were all equally good, would guide the animal unerringly to the end of existence, happiness; but should it happen that one of these is corrupted, the other two must be infected, and incapable of government.

Thus, if the animal is impressed by means of the visual sense, with the appearance of an egg; he is at that time impelled with the passion of hunger. A priest tells him he must not eat it; his conceptions are perverted by the ideas of the priest, his memory burthened and incumbered with falsehood, and his judgment corrupted by the maladministration of its colleagues. In the same manner the gratifications of the other passions may be impeded, and the animal propelled in a line contrary to that of happiness.

Volition of the passions and power of judgment to direct it, require that the latter should be under no control, in order for the animal to be in a state of well-being, individually. But, as such a state is incompatible with the excellence of his nature, we must consider him in union with others of his species.

By this union, however, he can give up none of his individual liberty; he associates to facilitate and secure the free operation of his mental faculties, and of his volition. In the first associations among mankind, if the free will of man had been forced or violated, the passion of fear would immediately have dissolved the assembly. We may suppose in this first state of society, any two men under the impulse of the same passion of hunger, lust or fear; if they found an egg, would they contend for it or divide it? If judgment was weak, as in the brute creation, they would contend for it with their lives, but if strong they would certainly divide the egg, as no one could hope to preserve his own person inviolate, if he encroached on the liberty of another. In like manner, should a woman present herself to two men, both being under the impulse of the passion of lust; if savages they would contend for her like brutes; if wise, to secure the freedom of their own will, they would assimilate it to hers.

For man to obtain well-being or happiness, it is necessary that he should enjoy an absolute state of liberty, to will for himself, but not for others; which may be effected by means of good government and good education, which will reciprocally correct and reform each other.

Personal identity is that state of matter in which it possesses a consciousness of existence, and power of motion to procure happiness for the present, and thereby perpetuate it in every stage of its transmutation or revolution; and no change of that identity by loss of memory or by death, can dissolve the connection with its integer Nature, but like a river absorbed by the ocean, it transmutes into all forms of matter, and returns to rivers again.

The vegetables, animals and water, incorporate every day by aliment, [and air by breathing] into self or identity; it is of consequence therefore to all Nature, that this duct, through which they are to pass, should communicate to them happiness. Self or identity is the union of this various matter, organized to feel pleasure and pain or consciousness of existence which is continued by the influence of memory. Vegetables, animals, rivers, [air, caloric, electricity,]—all Nature—are interested in the intellectual and corporeal organization of this common duct called personal identity; and since its interruptions or cessations never affect the immortality of Nature, it is the interest of matter in motion to procure happiness to matter out of motion, which will be reciprocated and perpetuated, if intellectualized matter should be influenced by the above reflections.

The mind, being strongly impressed with the immortal connection between self and Nature, expands its bounds of existence, and acquires a new intellectual essence; and though elevated beyond the essences of fellow-selves, yet in the wisely measured gratification of the sensual and full enjoyment of intellectual pleasures, it condescends into the orbit of society, and there, by a nice economy of reason and passion, plucks the roses of pleasure, and erases those thorns of pain, to which the institutions of ignorance have subjected the whole human species, and which error or vanity, co-operate to perpetuate.

This vast and important sentiment of the immortal connection of self and Nature, regenerates its authors in the instant of its conception, and causes the exalted character, which the ethics and example of ages could never produce:—a man whose heart, finding or sufficient aliment for its universal sympathy in the contracted segments of parental, social, patriotic, and human affection and love, expands to the great circle of sensitive Nature, and dries up the source of evil with the ardor of its benevolence: and whose existence so elevated, if not tempered by great wisdom, would find no medium of happiness in the society of ignorant creatures, or fellow selves or parts of the common integer of Nature.

Self Continued[edit]



The study of this important, but unknown and neglected subject, will explain all the mystery of the moral world. Self is God—self is religion—self is virtue, wisdom, truth and happiness. The greatest power and operation of the mental faculties is, to invert and reflect on self: for he who gains a knowledge of himself, will know how to love himself, and by making self happy, will communicate happiness to all animated matter. Philosophers, or those who, having broken the bonds of puerile error, thought themselves wise, have all been ignorant of self, and have called treason against the sacred majesty of self, by the names—"virtue" and "duty," and have lead mankind from the mist of error, to sink them into its abyss.

The investigation of self demands an uncommon exertion of the intellectual faculties, and is a phenomenon as rare in the moral world, as would be a river in the physical world, [if endued with consciousness,] attempting to flow back to its source, to discover in order to purify it. If the mind in this stupendous attempt should not be steady, or make its progress in a direct line, it will be neither cause of wonder nor reproof.

Self is formed of a body of organized matter, producing volition or moral motion, to give life and mind or understanding, to direct that body or machine, called man, to the well-being of his essence, or a happy state.

When the mind has, by the arduous process of abstraction from education, custom and will, reached its source, or that point of issuing where its motion is visible, it surveys the plains, and selects that channel to bound its course, which will convey fertility to its world, or happiness to itself.



Is that state of the animal man, at which he arrives by the power of the understanding, which being exerted in reflection[1] on past, present and future, enables him to form a volition, or acquire a motion, to progress forward unimpeded, in a state of absolute liberty, and in a right line to the well-being of his essence.

Whatever impedes this volition, formed by means of the understanding, must be inimical to the happiness of man. These impediments are either physical or moral; physical, as when he hungers and the fruit upon the tree is elevated beyond his reach; moral, as when one of his own species is in possession of it, and refuses to participate it. To remove these impediments, associations of the human species were formed, by whose collective bodily force, physical impediments were overcome, and by their collective mental force, moral ones might be counteracted.

In this state self seems to have acquired new relations, or rather to have extended its own nature; but by no means to have contracted it, nor, according to both vulgar and philosophical opinions, ancient and modern, to have sacrificed its own happiness to that of society; but on the contrary, the volition is only changed, and though forced back by the understanding, to react upon its source, it acquires a greater momentum, and is kept steadier upon a right line to happiness, which it reaches the sooner, imitating the laws of material projectiles.

To prove this axiom, which if established will overturn all ancient philosophy, and introduce a new system, I shall suppose that two individuals, just entered into a social state, and impelled by the most powerful of all the passions, hunger, discover upon a tree a small quantity of fruit, which they can acquire only by mutual aid: this being done, the fruit is found to be too little to satisfy the appetite of either, and yet they divide it, though they had each a volition, propelling them to eat the whole. This volition, however, they suppress; and this is called the sacrifice of self to society; whereas it is, on the contrary, turning the advantage of society to the particular advantage of self; for the mental power surveying constantly its own motion or volition, pushes it back upon the source, self, to acquire an augmentation; and the first volition of eating all, is changed to a wider or greater volition of giving away half, by the following reflection:

Were I to devour the whole of the fruit, my companion would desert me, and I should lose his aid, and consequently suffer want; I should also be deprived of the passion of sympathy, which extends and harmonizes my essence; and lastly, I should barter the great good of society, present and future, acquired by mental reflection, for the momentary pleasure of taste.

I shall suppose another instance, where three individuals are concerned, a female and two males; the latter desire to enjoy or cohabit with the former, since they cannot both participate, as in the case of the fruit, there must be a momentary preference. The delay, however, or check of the volition of enjoyment, in this case, would proceed from the paramount volition of liberty, which never can violate the will of another, if the understanding is sound or in its natural state; because on reflection or thought, we must be sensible, that the forcing our will upon another, perverts the order of the moral world, and breaks down all the barriers that guard happiness or well-being, and this for the advantage of a momentary preference. The moment we suffer self to violate volition, we assent to its being violated, and destroy the basis of all well-being.

By these examples we see, that when self, in its volition, directed by judgment, gives up a little present for much future good, it makes no sacrifice, but is ever most partial when it seems the least so, and that judgment when opposing, or resisting volition, operates as a floodgate, not to destroy, but to preserve the water to flow in a current of utility.

If, in the first institutions of society, its collective force of coercion had been employed only against the violators of personal freedom, there would have been no moral evil at this day upon the face of the globe. But the torrent of violation has now gained a dreadful extent, and the rugged rocks of coercion, in attempting to stop the destructive current of this enormous cataract, turn the inundation upon the peaceful meadows, and involve all Nature in the same calamity. The civil institutions of mankind, in order to preserve and perpetuate existence, have destroyed the liberty and happiness of essence or self. Self is the subdivision and partition of all Nature, into particular identities, to enjoy consciousness, happiness and motion in the dispensation and economy of Nature, who seems to have rendered it impossible for self, willingly and knowingly, to do any thing against its own happiness; and even were it possible that the volition, under the guidance of a sound understanding, should will evil to self, it would be the highest crime in Nature to execute such evil; and this proves, that virtue and self love are one and the same thing.

Happiness is that condition or state of essence in which the sensations of pleasure predominate either in actual gratification, or in expectation which causes agreeable emotions to fill up the vacuum or passage from that to enjoyment.

Violence has given so dreadful a concussion and vibration to the universal chain of existence, that policy has invented institutions, calculated solely to give tenacity to the links, in order to preserve, the whole from destruction or annihilation.

To wave figurative speech; Man has totally changed the idea of well-being into strong or durable being. To constitute happiness, repose is the greatest component part; but the violence of nations demands a sacrifice of it to labor, which procures population and riches, upon which the strength and competition of nations and individuals are founded.

To a regenerated mind in a state of intellectual existence, repose lengthens time—moments into hours, hours into days, days into years, years into ages, and ages into eternity; and wisdom fills up the immense space. But the same repose is misery to an unregenerated mind in a state of mere animal existence, that has no knowledge of self, but demands the agitation of perpetual occupation, or, like the pendulum, loses life with motion.

The intellectual mind also cannot exist without motion; but it is the undulation caused by the zephir of desires, and corrected by the intellectual sun shine; whereas the motion of animal existence is that of the vessel, tempest-tost, and without the helm of reason; and intellectual lightnings are dreaded, as they increase while they expose the horrors of the storm.

Thus, the mere animal existence dreads the repose which invites reflection, while the intellectual mind, courts it as the only means of enjoying, ensuring and perpetuating happiness. The former has little more consciousness of existence than the brute, and his happiness, which consists in the indulgence of blind tempestuous passions, is interrupted by the least relaxation. The intellectual mind, on the contrary, besides its pure calm enjoyment, fills up each period of repose, with the emotions of reflection and anticipation, which increase its powers of consciousness.

The present situation of mankind in society, recals to mind, the fable of two inimical, ferocious beasts, who continued in combat so long, each watching the assault of its antagonist, that inanition consumed both on the field of battle, as they neglected to feed, while fury and suspicion rivetted their attention on their visible enemy, till death, by famine, triumphed over both.

So it is with mankind. They combat nation against nation for existence, and sacrifice the end to the means, or well-being and happiness to the security of existence.

The great enemy to happiness is the fear that every individual nation has of adopting the theory and practice of truth, lest if its neighbors should not also adopt it, its own safety would be exposed. Every one fears to throw the pebble of truth into any part of the lake of humanity, lest the resistance of the circumjacent waters, increasing the violent agitation on the centre self, should overwhelm and destroy it; whereas it would but give that energy of concussion necessary to carry its undulations upon the shore of all sensitive Nature.

There is no subject of such infinite importance to mankind, as the augmentation of judgment or reason, which can be promoted only by a free and unlimited disquisition of truth, and the evils which human nature suffers over all the globe, can never be remedied while thought is shackled.

Did no evil exist in Nature, thought might then be bound in the strongest fetters, lest it might perhaps do harm by inventing error; but, as at present, the contrary is the case, and humanity is put to every kind of torture upon the rack of coercive institutions and barbarous customs, it is sacrilege and rebellion, against reason and Nature, to control the power of thought.

When the proposal of emancipating the mind from error is heard, every one is consternated, not on his own account, but on his neighbor's, for he thinks that truth would not be dangerous to himself: this proves the reciprocal and universal suspicion of others to be a general calumny, which checks the progress of reason in the reformation of error, the removal of misery, and establishment of well-being or happiness.

  1. The connection of identity or being with Nature passes through the infinite combinations of existence and essence. I have been from all eternity passing through the several stages of inanimate, vegetable and animal states; and this truth gives me an interest to oppose and remove every evil from sensitive Nature: as I labor to the advantage and happiness, ultimately of my own connections, and upon this truth reposes the whole moral system of Nature.



Consists of those acts or motions of the intellectualized animal man, which procure the well-being of his essence or happiness. We have defined man to be a machine, formed of corporeal and mental faculties, possessing passions and reason; and the well-being or essence of this machine to be the freedom of thought and judgment, to direct the will, and absolute liberty to put it in execution.

Virtue having hitherto been placed upon a false basis, men of letters and not of ideas, vulgarly dubbed philosophers, have accumulated error upon error to prop it up. Some have invented the most impious and atrocious personifications, to torment and torture those who bow not in adoration to the demon of their corrupted and unprincipled imaginations. These dogmatic and systematic fools mistook the semblance for the principles of virtue, and by this error they have confined mankind in a moral labyrinth, which demands the clue of pure and enlightened, though simple reason, to extricate them.

The most important, as well as the most evident and true moral axiom, that ever the human understanding discovered is, that

"true self love and social is the same."

What a glorious instruction for human nature! this with its own mighty force destroys all the colossal and impious fictions of theology. Why imagine a metaphysical sovereign or deity to reward or punish the being that does not know how to love, or do good to itself? Every thinking being imagines it knows how, and intends, in all its actions, to do good to itself, and if it does harm instead of good, ignorance alone is the cause. Why then institute metaphysical punishments, when the evil suffered by man, and caused by ignorance, is, of itself, a cruel injustice? Those metaphysical quacks, called theologists, if they intended to cure the moral ills, arising from the collision of the passions of men, should enlighten and extend the powers of judgment; whereas, by their gross fables, and mental impositions, they destroy that judgment, and perpetuate and increase ignorance, the cause of all human ills.

The inventors of metaphysical fictions—designing theologists and ignorant speculators, called philosophers, if they had possessed a grain of wisdom, would never have transferred the study of their own nature, or self, to infinity, because that is incomprehensible; nor to the physical sciences or arts, because these bear no appreciable proportion, in a comparative view of utility, with the knowledge of self.

Self, then, is the only subject worthy the study of man. The arts and sciences should be left to mere men of knowledge. Self if considered as isolated, appears to be in a state incompatible with well-being or full existence. The impotence of man, in a state of infancy, demands the aid of parents; the passion of hunger would be more painful; the passion of lust without gratification; the passion for life insecure, and the affections of sympathy unknown; and no approximation could be made to an intellectual existence. Self, therefore, must be considered in a state of society, and society must procure the well-being of its members. Should any member through ignorance, the cause of moral malady, become an ulcer, it must be healed by applying to it the balm of wisdom, and if this succeed not, coercion must be applied; should coercion be unsuccessful, the member must be amputated, or destroyed and thrown, like the potter's ill-moulded clay, into the general mass, to be re-kneaded with it, and to be cast and returned into a happier combination.

Wisdom, in its operation to gain the knowledge of self, must begin with the mental faculties, and by discovering the means to exercise them, and executing their functions, their primum mobile, or active moral force will be established.

The understanding, by taking a view of the past and the present, is enabled to anticipate the future; and to respect the wise axioms;

A less present pleasure is to be given up, in order to obtain a greater in future.

A less present pain is to be borne, in order to avoid a greater in future.

The volition of man may be guided to will no more or less than procures his well-being; [including of course its eternal connection with all sensitive existence.]

This volition thus formed, must be executed; and whatever promotes it is good, and whatever impedes it is evil or bad.

Society is formed to enable men to execute, with more efficacy and liberty, their particular volitions; and yet it is impossible to conceive a society, which, formed of individuals whose partial volitions are regulated by perfect and sound understanding, should be able to establish a general or social volition, that could restrain the will of any of its members.

Society in its origin was, probably, of this nature, and began with an individual family, whose increase gradually estranged its members, and becoming too numerous for subsistence they separated. With this separation commenced the era of moral evil.

The mind in the infancy of the world possessed only instinctive powers, and when men were assaulted by hard necessity or want, they had not sufficient power to anticipate, or look into futurity, and therefore obeyed their first volition: thus began contest, violence and murder.

Several societies were progressively established, and though the instinctive operations of the mind enabled self to extend to the contracted circle of a small parental society, and to prefer general and future to partial and present conveniences; yet it had not power to go beyond this circle. This separation of societies brought on a moral pestilence, which ended in universal and internal infection, and violence abroad, engendering violence at home, the demon coercion was called upon to assist mankind in the civil wars of ignorance, and has so well established its own power, that it has reduced ignorance to be a tributary potentate, and maintains the security of its throne by the aid of this, the worst enemy of mankind.

What a melancholy prospect is furnished by the hostile operations of this universal enemy to human nature, Ignorance.

All men are in pursuit of the same two objects—happiness and truth; and ignorance is constantly employed to conceal them from the pursuers.

"Moral truth," says ignorance, or its advocates, priests and false philosophers, "is incomprehensible or imaginary, and happiness is unattainable in this life." They hold the language of folly and falsehood. Moral truth is the just association of ideas; and a nice calculation respecting future pain and pleasure, is formed from these ideas by judgment, in order to decide the volition to action. Happiness is the state acquired by such operations of the understanding and passions—it is the habit of pleasing emotion, in passing from one enjoyment or pleasure to another.

How heart-cheering is the reflection, that wisdom is self-knowledge, and virtue is self-love! Self-knowledge must precede self-love, and it may be attained without the aid of learning or art. Habits of solitude, contemplation and meditation, cannot fail to produce it in the weakest understandings, if they are long enough continued. They should, however, be frequently interrupted by social enjoyments, lest the understanding should be impaired instead of strengthened, and disgust terrify the mind so as to prevent all inclination for the alternate enjoyments of solitude and society, which confer on each other a reciprocal zest, and render man a more amiable guest, in proportion as he advances by means of meditation towards intellectual existence, or knowledge of self.

Virtue is the conformation of the volition and judgment in the action of man, to procure happiness to self, and is subject, like the other cardinal principles of wellbeing, to a general standard.

It is an absolute truth, that no man can perform a voluntary act against the sovereignty or happiness of self; and the being that murders self, does it to avoid misery, or to obtain happiness.

The man who puts aliment into his body to preserve it, has the same motive as the man who thrusts a knife into it to destroy it—the former acts to promote its pleasure, the other to obviate its pain; but they are not in an equal degree virtuous or happy, (for the words are synonimous) their virtue must be judged of by circumstances. Was the suicide placed in the prison of the inquisition, from which there was no escape, it would be more virtuous in him to destroy, than to nourish himself; and the man who in such a predicament should take aliment, would be a coward and a traitor to self, considered as a part of the great integer of Nature, entrusted with the management and conduct of a certain proportion of matter, which it becomes an easy, though sacred duty to take care of, and advance in a right line to happiness, either by support or dissolution. Dissolution is the entrance into new life, and not death, which conveys a painful and false idea; for till we can conceive a period to the connection between us and Nature, death can mean nothing but a new mode of connection.

The virtuous man is he who gives the most happiness to the whole moral system, regarding self as the centre, which through the radii of sympathy comprehends the circle or orbit of all sensitive Nature. A being who shall cause, or permit any violence to any part of sensitive Nature, has not yet reached the system of intellectual existence, and the man who puts a bridle in the mouth of a horse, however he may justify his conduct, by necessity and custom, is but upon the low scale ofbeing, or animal existence.

That man only, reaches the summit of the scale of essence, or intellectual existence, who dreads to impose his will by violence, when he cannot by persuasion assimilate it to that of his fellow-creature, and disclaims, as totally unnecessary to the well-being of the human species, all intercourse with the brute creation. For, their unknown and unintelligible pains caused by human coercion, so agitate the chain of connections of matter and Nature, that we prepare dreadful evil for our own connection, which must no doubt, in the eternal revolution, pass through those animal ducts or identities of brutes.

Sympathy, or the affection that participates in the pain suffered by our fellow-animals, is the all of virtue. Pretended duties have been imposed by the arbitrary institutions of cunning and powerful men, in order to subjugate to their will, the great body of the people, under the pretext of enabling them to contend with hostile nations; these "duties" are enemies to individual happiness, and therefore are vices.

Did these bodies of people, who are organized by institutions that demand the sacrifice of individual liberty and happiness to the security of existence, labor to conciliate political enmities, by disseminating wisdom, and opening virtuous communications, I should then bear patiently the present misery of nations, in hopes of a happier futurity. But as the great, who administer the power of nations, make no such attempts, governments appear to me, to be intoxicated with the love of dominion, which entails misery on themselves and their subjects; and they are as much the dupes of the passions of pride and ambition, as the miser is of avarice, who stands over his hoard agitated with ambiguous emotions of pain and pleasure, blinded by ignorance, which prevents him from putting it to a proper use. Thus is it with power, which would be the cause of happiness, if the hereditary error and prejudices of mankind did not induce them to imitate the ignorant conduct of the wretched miser, and regard the accumulation rather than the use of their favorite hoards.

To assist these meditations, these pages, I hope, will be useful; if not, I must recommend the writings of Hume, Voltaire, Bolingbroke, Rousseau, and last of all Mirabaud [D'Holbach,] who has completed the destruction of error in his System of Nature: and when, conversant with these writings, the mind shall be purged of its errors and prejudices, these pages will, I trust, be useful to introduce it to a system of wisdom and happiness.



Is the internal operation of the mental faculties, as knowledge is the external. In the first, the mind returns upon itself immediately when it receives an alarm from the passions, or impression from the senses. When the passion of hunger, for example, agitates the machine man, and he finds a fruit he never saw before, the first volition he forms is to eat it; but judgment immediately arrests it by the following reflections:—I know not whether it is congenial to my nature, and that, while it allays or gratifies the passion of hunger, it may not be noxious to my essence by causing disease, or dangerous to its existence, being a poison to cause death. In consequence of this reasoning, the volition of the animal is changed, and he goes in pursuit of other food, reserving this for experiment, by eating it gradually, and observing its innocent or noxious effects. In a similar manner all the passions are cited to the tribunal of judgment, and tried by the succinct and universal Code of Moral Law:

Prefer a greater pleasure in futurity to a less pleasure in time present:

Suffer a less pain in time present, to avoid a greater in futurity.

This internal operation of the mental faculties upon self is called wisdom.

Wisdom is that quality of the mind that guides the volition of man in a right line to his well-being or happiness, by taking a large and comprehensive view of the past and present, and by a just and accurate association of pure, unprejudiced ideas that arise in the contemplation, to judge of the future, and prepare such causes as may, in the greatest probability, produce the desired effects.

In the labyrinth of error, when contemplation penetrates, practice constantly breaks the clue of speculation, and prevents man from arriving at the exit for happiness.

Wisdom, when unembarrassed by the prejudices of education and custom, should lead contemplation to avoid the violent frictions of practice, and having carried the clue of theory safe to the exit, practice will of itself follow, and humanity will be extricated from the dark dictates of error and ignorance.

The mystic point of union of speculation with practice can never be determined; wisdom imperceptibly guides the mind to this union: but though the progress is comparatively as little discemable as in vegetation is that of the seed to its tree, it is equally active, and as ultimately certain.

A man who may, upon full conviction, adopt the religion of Nature, will not recommend to the government to annihilate its coercive powers, civil and military, but will recommend the improvement of education, the promulgation of that useful knowledge which leads to wisdom, and then the association of every member in a state of democracy, where the odious and humiliating name of subject is changed to the equitable and honorable appellation of citizen, who will claim his natural rights the moment wisdom arrives to intellectualize his essence.

The child of Nature will not recommend to a parent the dereliction of tutelary defensive authority over his children, but will explain to him, that being the author of their existence, he is bound to render that existence happy; and that the pretext of custom does not justify the parent in acts of tyranny or torment, to resemble a cruel task-master.

The same humanity and liberality he will inculcate into masters, without destroying the bonds of subordination; and these virtues he will recommend to the practice of every individual in the mutual toleration of weaknesses and foibles, without removing the restraints laid on vice, and the encouragements offered to virtue, by abolishing the blame or applause which the customs of society attach to them; and lastly, all these virtues he will sum up in the universal affection of sympathy to all sensitive Nature.



Is the effect of the intellectual faculties externally applied in the arts and sciences, to procure the means of corporeal subsistence, well-being and health. Agriculture and medicine occupy the first rank in the operations or scale of knowledge, and all other branches or works of art follow, in proportion as they procure means to gratify the pleasures of the Senses, and increase the comfort of animal existence; contrivances of dress and architecture, to preserve the body from the inclemencies of the elements; music to delight the sense of hearing; and inventions of imagination, as oratory and poetry, to amuse the mind, and to make up the complement of pleasure, or well-being of the animal existence. Knowledge is to wisdom, what food is to the body, mere nouriture and aliment; and as the body animalizes food or matter, so serves wisdom to intellectualize knowledge, and gives to the combined machine intellectual existence, or knowledge of self.

The great cause of the origin and perpetuation of error has been the mistaking the quality of knowledge for that of wisdom. The former resembles the latter in all its productions, and they differ only in their application.

The operations of knowledge are employed upon outward and foreign objects; but those of wisdom are internal, and applied only to self. The greatest efforts of the former were exerted by Sir Isaac Newton, to discover the physical laws of bodies; but when he attempted to make use of the latter to make discoveries in the moral world, he became an eminent example of deficiency in the quality of wisdom, and proved its great difference from knowledge. Mankind, however, had long been used to confound them, and Newton was immortalized, though all his works produced not a grain of utility to the well-being of man.

The shoals of error seem so to have empoisoned the stream of wisdom, that knowledge is wholly employed to keep man from approximating its source, lest before he can arrive at it, the draught of this adulterated stream on his passage, should destroy him. These fears can never be dispelled till some mortal shall set the successful example, and having discovered the source, may turn the current from the letiferous soil of prejudice, that infects its waters, to the pure and wholesome channel of truth, when every draught will invigorate the traveller upon its banks, and give him strength in proportion to the labor he undergoes to arrive at the fountain of wisdom.

What destructive apothegms folly and error have invented to guard the access of this fountain of light and happiness!

"The people must be kept in ignorance."

"Truth is dangerous to the happiness of mankind."

These are the infernal falsehoods from which are derived the origin and perpetuation of ignorance, the cause of all misery.

Speculative or abstract truth is irrefragably and eternally right, and its practice is right or wrong, in proportion as it is [or is not] skilfully reduced to operation and exercise.

What man of even superior animal existence, but knows and avows, that the trade and practice of slavery in America is an infernal and abominable crime? yet he would not immediately cast off their chains, lest the disorders produced by the intoxication of liberty in minds whose volition are uncontrolled by judgment, should annihilate all commerce, and cause a famine to destroy all their inhabitants: but he would labor at a perpetual and gradual relaxation thereof, which would approximate the end, total emancipation. But the vile spirit of ignorance and avarice declaims against all reform, as being dangerous both to slaves and masters, and the child of Nature is disposed to rejoice (even though self is submerged,) at the accumulated waters of evil, breaking down the dikes of despotism and ignorance, and overwhelming the oppressors and oppressed; as the eternal happiness of the eternal integer of Nature would be thereby promoted. This blind tyranny is the cause that all moral reforms have been brought about by a dreadful necessity, and procured through much misery and bloodshed, as the history of the different revolutions of nations attests.

Intellectual Existence[edit]


There is no reflection that astonishes the mind so much as that which arises from considering man as not yet arrived at this period in the Scale of existence. The proof may be drawn from the records of knowledge in history, and from conversation with the individuals of the present moment.

The operations of the human intellect in past ages have produced nothing but its external effects, and knowledge has been derived from the transposing and combining of the ideas of the memory; or, when exerting itself in observing the operations of its own passions, the mind has assumed the pompous title or nick-name of Philosophy for this act, because it bore a semblance to internal motion or rejection, though very distant from it.

The modes of the operations of the intellect and the passions which knowledge has taken cognizance of, and become acquainted with, and by that means obtained the dignified title of philosophy, are as easy to be observed, as the motions of outward bodies, and their cause and effect as easily known. They invented rules by which the moral machine man was to be directed in orbits of well-being or happiness, and these not being drawn from a central point of attraction, constantly met and swallowed up each other. No one has either had resolution or capacity to attempt the discovery of the centre, which is self. That part, independent of that partial identity of I, you, and they, which forms the integer of Nature, and which generalizes itself by sympathy with the whole, partaking of the immortality of Nature, and arising into the most perfect state which man is capable of, intellectual existence, composed of self knowledge and self love, comprehending all Nature.

Knowledge, as it has hitherto operated among mankind, could only lead them to reason relatively: it had suborned the passions by a specious display of interest, and has served to perpetuate and establish ignorance and its consequence, vice. War with all its destruction, was declared a good, and violence, which includes the centre and circumference of all vice, was declared a virtue; and the whole art and effort of knowledge has been, and still continues to be, to separate self from its integer Nature. The universal intercourse of matter and of personal identity clearly demonstrates, that matter is constantly changing places from its two stages of animation and inanimation, and the former being in motion, can prepare happy identities or combinations for its successor, and the successor for the progenitor which in turn becomes the successor, and so on in this eternal revolution, from animation to animation; and this idea is the only one that can produce intellectual existence, or found virtue on a comprehensible and immovable basis.



Is two-fold, physical and moral. Physical truth may be explained by bodies; thus, no two separate bodies can occupy the same space, and two bodies added to two bodies must make four bodies.

Of moral truths, I know but one that is absolute, viz: That the volition of man is to be restrained only until be has acquired judgment; for while the restraint of parents is consistent with truth, judgment must be absent in the child; and social coercion must be justified on the same principle.

While education, custom and policy, pervert and destroy, as they do by the present institutions, the judgments of mankind, coercion is necessary, and liberty must be sacrificed to the safety of existence.

The mind under the influence of moral truth or happiness, (for they are synonomous terms,) will abstract itself from all relative considerations of custom and policy in the investigation of this virtue, and will hold it up as a luminary, to direct relative or practical truth in its progress, or will scatter abroad its discoveries and reflections, and disseminate them as seed over the ground, which must take root and grow into practice as unaccountably and imperceptibly as the acorn becomes an oak.

Speculative writers, as well as readers, have constantly injured the cause of truth or happiness, by instituting or insisting upon its immediate practice. It would be as wise in the husbandman to demand the harvest immediately from the seed, or the tree from the plant.

The difference between theory and practice may be evinced by considering them with respect to the foregoing and only absolute moral truth, that the volition of man is to be restrained only by the judgment of him who forms it, in order to procure to the animal its well-being, which is a state of enlightened Nature.

Let us examine this important truth; first speculatively.—Judgment, which by collecting ideas of the past, present and future, calculates the greatest probability of pain and pleasure, to be derived from the act of the animal, persuades the first volition to change or reform itself; and the ultimate volition is the best and most spontaneous, notwithstanding the apparent restraint of judgment; but if the extraneous power, political or parental government, forces man to act contrary to volition, the animal is deprived of free agency, and cannot possibly arrive at a state of well-being.

Let us now consider it practically.—If coercion of government of every kind should cease to execute this moral truth immediately, peremptorily and universally, no doubt great evil and confusion would arise; because, were the government of force to abdicate its throne before judgment became of age, the inter-regnum of such a minority would be dreadful, and therefore it has ever been the study of that part of mankind, who have usurped a power over their fellow-creatures, to form an alliance with another set of usurpers, called priests, in order to perpetuate, by means of false and trivial instruction, the minority of judgment, as they knew that if it became of age, it would compel tyranny and ignorance to abdicate the throne of reason.

The minds of weak men are always alarmed at the function of practical with speculative truth, because they view it in the effect of immediate instead of mediate adoption, and view the gradual relaxation or change of the iron chain of society into the silken bonds of love and reason, as a dissolution of moral existence.

Let us imagine the establishment of this speculative truth in practice, and consider if it could be done without giving society any injurious shock.

The operation would begin by disseminating knowledge among the people; from this act no shock or injury can be apprehended; knowledge, by being generally cultivated, would produce wisdom—wisdom would give energy to the will, and this being universal, would prevent all concussion, or injurious shock, but would claim the privilege of partaking in the legislation of its own society. Society thus extended and tempered with the collective wisdom of a great nation, would check the fury of the passions, ambition, avarice and luxury, and substitute the affection of love, justice and temperance in their place; and the frequent operations of collective wisdom would bring man, in a short period, to the happy state of enlightened Nature.

Physical truth, which is the type of moral truth, is alone manifested to mankind.

Moral truth, being viewed through the medium of custom and education by men, appears to them under different shapes, and all attempts to change the medium are restrained by political and religious inquisition; and the individual, who by reading things, and not words, in the volume of Nature, in travelling over the face of the globe, rarifies the thick medium of custom, appears a dangerous Colossus to puny creatures of prejudice, and being dreaded by vanity is depicted as an enemy to society, while he is a real friend to all Nature.

The dark and rooted prejudice of mankind has so contracted the standard of judgment, that an animal man and an intellectual, in their intercourse, differ as much as does the astronomer from the carpenter who resembles the animal man, by pulling out his foot-measure to determine the distance of the heavenly bodies, which the former has calculated.

To illustrate this:—let a child of Nature, the standard of whose reason is the diameter of the circle of all Nature, discourse with a Spaniard, and arraign the sacrilegious institutions of the inquisition, for causing abortion of the most sacred germ of Nature, human thought, in order to prevent man from arriving at intellectual existence, or an enlightened state of Nature. The Spaniard will with his standard of custom, reply that the inhabitants of his country, being exceedingly addicted to superstition and furious zeal, if thought was permitted to be exercised and divulged, it would introduce heresy, and that would cause a dreadful civil war. This he could not prove, and would be forced to confess, that his apprehensions might have no other foundation than ignorance and interest, which operated equally with other nations, who indulged religious but opposed political reform.

Truth is, therefore, utterly unknown to mankind—black in one country is white in another—good is bad and bad good; and this owing to the medium or standard of prejudice and ignorance. The utility of truth is to be found only in the equality of standard and purity of medium presented by the religion of Nature.

O deluded mortals! rise from your iron beds of error,—turn your regard towards the moral orient—invoke the sun of reason to ascend; those who excite fears and apprehensions of its benign rays, are the robbers of liberty and reason, whose designs and operations suit best with the darkness of the atmosphere of interest and ignorance. Some feeble fellow creatures there are, who like the captives in the dungeon, dread the light; these are betrayed by their fears to join with the mitred and crowned robbers that suppress with calumny all reformers and with a verdict of sedition give them up, bound as victims, to these legal depredators, and perpetuate, unwittingly, their own ignorance and misery.

Come then, fellow-parts, come to the enlightened communion of your integer, Nature—seek after intellectual existence, acquired in the contemplation of this union matured into conviction: this regeneration will elevate you above animal, as animal does above the vegetable state—this makes happiness systematic, immortality comprehensible, and carries the intellectual faculties to the strongly-marked barrier of its boundaries—opens the secrets of Nature and infinity as far as it is necessary to well-being, and enables man to fill up the plenitude of his essence, and all of existence, and to run his course in the great orbit of Nature with tranquillity, resignation, and happiness, and to arrive at the periods of change, or renovation of form, without terror, or pain and sleep, as it were, into the euthanasy of a happier existence.

The Education of Nature[edit]


Consists in the example and instruction of seniors to youth, to remove all dangerous inclinations to be wicked before judgment assumes its maturity, or to violate the liberty of our fellow-creatures, or to confound or suppress the maturity of judgment, by uttering falsehoods to corrupt and mislead it.

Parents are to be separated from their children as soon as judgment makes its appearance and Nature demands no longer parental care, lest the affecctionate intercourse may tend to weaken the social habitudes, and prevent them from extending self into the comprehensive and ample existence of the orbit of Nature, the universal and common parent, who testifies the relation of humanity to supercede all other. While the mild and innocent example of seniors are guarding the passions from the evil propensities of violence in the early period of infancy, sports and pastimes are to be taught, that may give vigor, health and comeliness to the body. These bodily sports may be connected at the age of maturity, [puberty,] with mental amusements, as poetry, logic, music, painting, and mechanic arts. In all mental instructions, the will is to be led to them, and coercion of every kind must be unknown. Pleasure, both mental and corporeal of every kind, controlled by wisdom, is to be cultivated as the great object of life, and to be measured by judgment, improved and extended by reason and reflection.

Children are to mix with all the members of society, and parents are to withdraw themselves from all partial attentions, and the least partiality is to be guarded against, as an enemy to society. The example of seniors is to be the whole code of instruction, in doing no violence and speaking no falsehood—but taking care that the mouth is a faithful interpreter of the heart. The religion of Nature, morality and polity will be afterwards communicated at an adult age, by the examples and conversation of society.

As cultivation in agriculture improves the vegetable, so does education improve the moral world. The present mode, like every other part of the moral system, is measured and adjusted by the short standard of relative truth.

Philology or language is the universal subject of study and instruction, for two reasons:

First, as it furnishes a key to unlock the treasures of knowledge, contained, according to the present fixed, and therefore sacred opinion, in the ancient authors of science and history;

And second, as enabling the student to improve the powers of speech, by which he may inculcate, explain and convince others of the truth of those ideas or knowledge, which habit and ignorance have called the wisdom of antiquity.

This blind adoption of the ideas of the ancients proves, that many moderns possess not the capacity of forming new ideas; for a man of the least strength of mental faculties must discover, that as time in its progress changes universally the circumstances of life, the idea that was wise yesterday, may be folly to-day, as it does not coincide with the new events of the new era; and it is this blind veneration for antiquity, that is both the origin and perpetuation of the present ignorance of mankind; for if the reasoning faculty of man had been well directed by education, it must, profiling of the boundless experience of past ages, have long ago arrived at the acme of its perfection.

The present detestable mode of beating the absurd ideas of the ancients into the posteriors, because Nature, spontaneously improving, refuses them admittance into the head, must be changed. The birchen scepters of tyrant and ignorant pedagogues must be broken, and virtuous, wise and amiable associates must assume their places. Instruction should be instilled into the mind voluntarily and, as it were, imperceptibly, of which sports and pastimes should be the chief medium. Gymnastic exercises, and the early practice of ethics, or sympathy and probity, should form the whole code of instruction to the age of maturity, [puberty;] and then philology should be admitted in the vernacular language only. Those wonderful productions of human ingenuity, the Latin and Greek languages, should be studied at an adult age, not for what they contain, but for their unparalleled perfection, which reduces all modern languages, in comparison, to the most contemptible jargons. They should become the lingua Franca of the world, and as their very sound seems sense, what would be the effect of sense or reason, when communicated with their irresistible eloquence? It would certainly produce the unity of ideas, the unity of association, the unity of religion, and the last and perfect unity in the integer of Nature, the acme of human perfection.

The Morality of Nature[edit]


Consists in the means of procuring happiness or well-being to self, as generalized with society. The pleasures of the senses are particularly to be cultivated, and are to be directed by the following important and universal axioms:

{{smallcaps|Give up a less present pleasure for a greater future.

Suffer a less present evil to avoid a greater future.

To follow these axioms, the volition must be guided by an anticipative and reflective judgment that sees into futurity, and by a power or accuracy of decision, called taste, to transfer sensual pleasure to intellectual joy.

To illustrate these operations of the judgment, I will adduce examples borrowed from civilized society. To explain the first axiom, let us suppose a man possessed of a yearly income of five hundred pounds. Should he spend it all in one day, he will no doubt augment the sensual pleasures of that day, but the three hundred and sixty-four following will be days of pain; judgment brings this catenation to the conception of the mind, and the volition is regulated to economize pleasure, and perpetuate it by forbearance to the year's end.

The second axiom may be explained by the pleasure of helping our guests to the best of the repast at a convivial board; for the esteem and affection that affability and hospitality obtain from surrounding guests, in declining the best, and taking the less delicious parts of the viands, confer an intellectual comfort and complacency, that is of infinitely more value than the sensual pleasure which the palate would obtain by the mastication of those morsels.

Self being a part of Nature, organized, diversified and identified, though by no means separated from its integer, for that is impossible, it will never be directed by judgment to forego what is essential to its happiness, in order to promote that of another part of the same integer;[1] for suppose that I am starving, and a fellow-creature demands from me the food which I cannot part with without annihilating my essence; I must then keep the food, and though I should suffer much pain by sympathizing with that of my fellow-creature, yet judgment would never direct me to my own destruction, and demands from me no suffering, but an augmentation of pleasure by relieving my fellow-creature, by means not dangerous to existence, or destructive of self happiness. There are instances, however, where a sound and capacious judgment would counsel dissolution, and encourage man to annihilate the combination of his essence, by his own powers over life. Such are incurable disorders causing incessant pain, either of the mind or of the body: but, as in the first instance, the loss of judgment deprives the man of ability to put an end to his existence, it becomes the interest of society to do it, who are to protect all animate combinations of matter from misery—to keep in order identities, which resembling inns upon the road of life, to receive matter in its travelling revolutions, must be provided with every comfort. In the latter instance, where man suffers uninterrupted and excruciating bodily pain from disease, and where the judgment remains, he should authorize a fellow creature to give him relief, or seek it by precipitating himself into the arms of death or new existence.

All the actions of man, directed by judgment, must promise to be useful to, or propose happiness to self; and the laws of moral motion have rendered it impossible for the animal to perform any act, in which it does not propose its own well-being, which proves and evinces self to be the centre of moral gravitation or attraction, by whose powers the different animated and intellectualized bodies are directed in orbits, which procure the moral system or well-being and happiness of animated matter.

The present moral world is in a state of chaos; every intellectualized body, attracted by a partial centre, rolls in wild confusion in the moral regions, and by perpetual and destructive collision opposes and annihilates all system of well-being and happiness.

There is, however, at this period, a ray of light arising from the horizon of knowledge, which promises to belong to the glorious sun of wisdom, approaching the moral hemisphere, which by discovering the union of self with Nature, will give happiness to the moral world, by attracting the various selfs into the common and universal centre of Nature, even as the physical sun diffuses light and warmth to this planetary system.

In such a moral world, regulated by wisdom, and moved by universal sympathy, his horse is as nearly related to man as his child, [in proportion as their capability for pleasure and pain is equal;] and violence committed upon either is violence done to self, and to Nature, the great integer of self; nay the injury is greater when applied to the horse, as he possesses not the same power of language, or signs to affect sympathy, which shakes the great chain of Nature, by whose links all essences are united. Therefore, the sensitive part of Nature, called horse, may suffer excruciating torments from our actions, without the least hopes of relief; whereas the indifference towards children is not so dangerous to the integral happiness, because the signs of language and indications of gesture shake with violence and perpetuity the chain of sympathy, and by giving constant alarm at the approach of the great and only enemy of Nature, violence, they urge man to the immediate relief of pain.

Sympathy and wisdom have a reciprocal force to keep man in the universal centre of Nature. The former demonstrates a present connection, though under a different identity, and wisdom teaches that upon the dissolution of that identity, man still continues to be a part of Nature, though assuming fresh identities, and that in removing present evil from others, he removes present and future evil from himself, and demonstrates the one, only and comprehensive principle of the morality of Nature to be,

Will for yourself alone, and associate the will of others by persuasion;

And the man who moves his volition or arm to violence, is a rebel against Nature, and a traitor to self, and has not yet arrived at the state of intellectual existence.

The morality of Nature, comprehending wisdom, virtue, truth and happiness, as already defined in this work, forms the unitary, comprehensive and succinct code.—"Will for yourself," explained in as succinct a commentary, (sympathy and probity,) offers no mode of connection or compromise with the present system of relative morality; therefore I scatter it with the rest of the unaccommodating tenets in this work, into the soil of the human mind; and though I possess not the means of eloquence to impress it deep, to prevent the blasts of prejudice, or the rapacious vultures of interest from destroying it; yet I trust to hazard, that if only one seed among the many should find congenial soil, and take root, its product will spread to the boundaries of the earth. This metaphor of vegetation may arrest the curiosity of those who demand the mode of introducing such novel theory to practice, and they may rest satisfied, that no ray of moral truth can ever be lost; for in proportion to its evidence and importance, it forces conviction, which imperceptibly produces sentiment, and sentiment action, and this is the progress of all novel and important theory to the goal of practice.

  1. On this important subject all the powers of mind are to be exercised to calculate how far the happiness or existence of self are to be apparently or momentarily encroached upon, in order to promote that of a fellow-creature, which must ever co-operate with our own; and considered relatively to the common integer, Nature, be ultimately all our own.

    Man may, in his relation to Nature, promote the happiness of self, by sacrificing the identity or existence of self, as is the case of a tyrant, who having subdued twenty millions of fellow-creatures continues to render them miserable by despotism and cruelty. It would be the interest of any self or identity to put him to death, though the end of its own existence might follow; for having removed a great proportion of evil from identity or existence of a great proportion of animated matter—self as a part of Nature, would, on its return to life under different combinations, meet with less evil.

The Science of Nature[edit]


Employs the intellectual faculties in contriving means to produce subsistence, and to promote and multiply the means of pleasure of all animated Nature. The mind in these exercises acquires force, moving by these efforts, at first outwardly, till at last extreme contemplation turns its force inwardly, and then knowledge becomes science, and by flowing back upon its current, it at last reaches its source, and gains an evidence and cognition of self. From this eminence it surveys the whole moral world, and there purifying its waters or passions, it pours itself into the tranquil channel of pleasure and benevolence, and thence fertilizes all Nature; or, in other words, it arrives at the state of intellectual existence, and by identifying itself with all Nature, procures for itself, and other beings, or fellow-selfs, the greatest degree of happiness of which intellectuality is capable.

This science is to be acquired by reading the extensive and simple book of Nature, in travels; by studying mankind, not in history, but in person; and by much contemplation, or frequent conversation with self. These give power and energy to thought. Frequent communication or conversation with others, may obtain information as to facts; but avoid disputation, which, owing to the vanity and thoughtlessness of mankind, promotes verbal ideas, but not sentiments of truth.

The investigation of truth can only be effected by self in contemplation; for in that self disputation we are enabled to discover when the understanding is biassed by the passions, and distinguish the arguments of reason from those of the will, and by this process alone, of abstracting the judgment from the will, can the truth of any proposition be discovered.

Disputants in writing or conversation, constantly attempt to establish an opinion, and never discuss in order to form one, and this is because they have no knowledge of self, or intellectual existence. Two intellectualized beings in the discussion of truth, inspired by the subject, could not possibly differ, as the reason alone, not the will, would operate; and though they might not succeed in their research, yet they would both rest at the same point, as they would reciprocally adopt and improve their minds with the information and invention of each other, and being equally averse to the impertinent logic of the schools, and the silly conclusion of vain syllogisms, they could not dispute like mongrel hounds, who stop short in the chase to fight, but would pursue with unanimity and candor, and if the prey escape, they would be equally disappointed, and suffer their loss in harmony, though with regret, and console each other with the hopes of future associate labors.

The science of Nature consists totally in the operation of inverting the faculties of the mind upon self which can be performed by the medium of contemplation alone, in order that reason may be upon its guard against the ambush of the will, which constantly surprises the mind in social discourse, except it is formed by men in a state of intellectual existence, who are much used to, and improved by the advantages of contemplation, and then it acquires energy, and facilitates investigation and the knowledge of self, in proportion to the numbers of which that society is formed.

The moment the properties or essence of self is discovered, the study of Nature is directed to well-being or happiness, and then the faculties diverge from the centre, and take an outward course towards letters, the sciences, and mechanic arts, which are prosecuted in proportion to their utility, or produce of happiness; and the man who discovers a planet would be rewarded with a potato, as he who produces a potato would be rewarded with [the knowledge of] a planet.

I am sensible that men of learning and erudition would reverse the dispensation of rewards; and I would, therefore, propose, that the study of the sciences be suspended universally—over the whole globe—that the human mind, freed from the blandishments of the Syrens of science and arts, might be able to return to its home, and invert all the force of its faculties upon self. Rousseau treated all science as an evil; but in that he was wrong; for science is a good, as procuring pleasure and utility if it did not precede or expel the science of Nature, or knowledge of self. These reflections will justify Rousseau's disapprobation of science, though not his opinion.

The pursuit of knowledge, or arts and sciences, produces the great enemy of wisdom, vanity; and the man of learning is infinitely further removed from a state of wisdom, than the unlettered peasant. The former, constantly environed with the mist of confirmed and learned error condensed by vanity, demands a greater proportion of light to extricate him, than the peasant in the vacuum of ignorance, where the least ray of light penetrates, and meets no resistance, as it does in the moral atmosphere of the lettered blockhead, whose words are but articulated air—sound, without sense; and whose powers of imagination have transferred to the memory, a repository of ancient ideas, which, if ever they were true, time and circumstances must have rendered false. Memory thus becomes a mere copy of absolute archetype, and judgment is so much overwhelmed, by the learned rubbish with which the mind is crammed, that it has neither room nor power to exert itself; and should the wisdom of others, by exposing the contents of this lumber room, offend the vanity, memory flies, as the substitute of judgment, to its aid, and with its usual weapons, impertinent syllogism and false conclusion, blinds the weak eyes of the ignorant, without casting the least shade over the bright sun of truth.

The unlearned peasant, if removed from the dusty neighborhood of the learned blockhead's agitated rubbish, would rub off from his eyes the attenuated film of natural ignorance, and contemplate in ecstacy, the glorious luminary of truth transcending the horizon of sense and conviction.

The Logic of Nature[edit]


Words are names, which by various combinations, transfer the conceptions of one mind to those of another. Abstract words, or those expressive of quality, can never be confined to a fixed and determined import, on account of the constant change of Nature, and the scholastic logic, by falling into the error of supposing the import of words to be fixed, has so bound the human faculties in syllogistical false conclusions, that whenever knowledge seems disposed to ripen into wisdom, or reflect in its course upon its centre or self, it is constantly propelled by logic, to preserve an outward form or centrifugal force.

For example; when the word good is made use of and applied to man; if it is one in the state of enlightened Nature who speaks, he means by good, that man, whose nature is so benevolent, that he never attempts to force the will of his fellow creature, but assimilates it to his own by persuasion or argument; and that does not suffer his tongue to belie his heart, by wittingly sacrificing truth to falsehood. If it is an artificially civilized being who speaks, he means by good, the man who is obedient to the laws and constitutions of society. In Spain, to put a man to death for daring to exercise the unalienable and sacred privilege of reason, is according to law, and therefore good. In France, where reason has more energy and religion less, to serve your friend, with the sacrifice of probity and patriotism, is called good: in England where the mind approaches nearest to intellectual existence, without having attained it, to sacrifice the rights of all mankind to the advantage of your country, is called good. An American savage may think it good to put his father to death; a Chinese his child; and a thousand more instances might be adduced, to prove that the meaning of words cannot be fixed in the present system of life, and that it is the erroneous supposition that they are so, that forms the only impediment to the progress of wisdom.

It is, however, in the power of strong intellectual faculties, notwithstanding this apparent imperfection of language, to communicate by words, most accurately, the whole of their conception, and this, by the circumlocution of definition and description; and this dialect having no other quality but intelligibility, could not fail to bring all mankind to one common standard of good, to the light of wisdom, or knowledge of self—to the practice of virtue, or true love of self—to the religion of self—to intellectual existence—and to a state of well-being or happiness, or a state of enlightened Nature.

The greatest evidence that might be brought to support the truth or utility of natural religion is, that no dialect or definitive terms can be understood, without it; for some universal standard must be invented, to give fixed and positive import to words. Circumlocution or description might answer this end with minds in a state of intellectual existence, but in the colloquial intercourse with the mere animal mind of man, it will avail nothing. For supposing that a child of Nature, in a dialogue with a man of civilization in a state of animal existence, makes use of the word goodness, and defines it to be a quality incapable to commit violence, or force the will of self upon a sensitive fellow-creature; in a state of civilization, no such quality being known, it is plain that the present state of language, and every possible modification of terms, could never convey the same sentiments, when the words to express them mean black for white, and invert the ideas, so that it is impossible to ascertain or fix any dialectic or logic, but upon the basis of natural religion, where the import of words may be adjusted as accurately, as that of numbers; and the progress of the human kind, with such a medium for collecting and communicating its powers, must propel it to an acme of perfection, that surpasses all conception.

The syllogistical reasoning of metaphysical writers is an insult to common sense, and I never perused any of those "unanswerable conclusions" which many learned blockheads, dubbed philosophers, have avowed, without deploring the abased state of the human faculties, incapable of detecting the intelligibility of the terms, and the vanity, puerility and impertinence of the conclusions, divested of the common veil of ingenuity, with which all metaphysical authors abound; for metaphysics and absurdity are terms synonomous.

An intellectual mind admits of no demonstration and evidence, but what is drawn from the senses, and will not receive even as probability, what is not a very close and substantial deduction from them. The religion of Nature, which consists in [the knowledge of] the eternal connection of self and Nature indissoluble by change of essence, as its foundation, is first demonstrated to the senses, by the perpetual transmutation, and indestructibility of matter, and probability points out by a close and substantial inference, that I—essence—or that something, me—is connected with Nature as its integer, and all the powers of thought cannot conceive its cessation, which impresses such an almost intuitive idea of this incontrovertible and useful truth upon the mind, as elevates the existence of the intellectual man as much above the animal, as he is above the vegetable, and produces that state of enlightened Nature, which forms the acme of human essence.

The Medicine of Nature[edit]


The first study of mankind is man, and it is the most abstruse and difficult of all others.

The intellectual properties of his combination are to be discovered by much solitude and contemplation: for the conversation of his own species promotes only the communication of ideas, formed under the bias and corruption of the will; for when two persons dispute or discuss, it is always to support and maintain their favorite conceptions; whereas, man, in self-conversation, feels no humility in changing or examining his own opinion, and judgment in this state, makes more progress towards truth in one minute, than in hours of conversation, either oral or scriptory. The advantage of conversation with others of his species, serves to extend his knowledge and ideas; but it is in conversation with self that judgment strengthens and improves, and it is by this habit of thoughtfulness, contemplation, and self-conversation, so remarkable in the English nation, that they have left the rest of the world centuries behind, in their progress towards intellectual existence, though they are still themselves at a great distance from that glorious acme of human nature.

The mind, in habit of self and social conversation, resembles in its mode of labor, the industrious bee, that roams abroad to get its material, but makes all its honey at home. This habit must, in the end, conduct the mind to a knowledge of self, or the intellectual part of its organization. This being done, the corporeal part will be easily explored.

The knowledge of anatomy, or the different parts of the body, and their union, may be learned by dissection, and a variety of accidental derangements or wounds remedied by the art of surgery; but there is another knowledge of the body, which no art can discover; that is, in the circulation of its fluids. The order or disorder of these, upon which depends the health of the body, can be known only by experimental sensations. The attention paid to these must be critical, and the inductions of Nature strictly observed and followed. When the body gives the first symptoms of disorder, the loss of appetite often follows, which indicates aliment to be noxious; but as life demands from reason, though not from corporeal sensation, some sustenance, judgment goes in search of what may be congenial to the present habit of body, and by cautious and guarded experiment, discovers the healthful diet.

The science of medicine, from one general rule of application to the infinite variety of human constitutions, has done more harm than good to mankind, and though its sudden operations may frequently delay the hand of death, yet it ever undermines the stamina of life, and few, if any of its votaries, but become victims, conducted insidiously to a premature tomb, through a painful and debilitated existence.

Medicament is studied by Nature in aliment alone, and this applied preventively, rather than sanatively. It is in the power of a man of wisdom, to discover by experience, what food is homogeneous, and what is heterogeneous to his constitution. The first promotes and perpetuates order, or the just operations of all the functions of life—the latter, in most cases, indicates the noxiousness of its quality, by an impediment in the functions, where no derangement of the animal functions are discernable, we may then reason from the experience of Nature.

For example; I travel into a distant country, and observe the natives inflicted with endemic disorders; wisdom counsels me to quit that country, though my constitution has given no symptoms of disorder. I see also the effects of gluttony in my fellow-citizens, the vigor of whose youth resisted the poison of debauchery, and whose animal functions, unimpeded, gave them no alarm, but they are now dragging on life in all the misery of disease, to a premature caducity and death.

This miserable old age, which distinguishes the European from the Asiatic nations, whose age is but the decline of strength, or the sleep of apathy, ending in peaceful dissolution, excites my wonder and curiosity, and interest compels me to the investigation of this melancholy truth.

Upon a comparative view of the constitutions and climates, I find them reciprocally adapted, and offering no difference of good or evil. I then consider the aliment, and though upon a superficial observation, the difference might be supposed wisely adapted to the difference of climate; yet upon more critical investigation, I am disposed to believe the aliment of flesh and fermented liquors to be heterogeneous to the nature of man in every climate. [Distilled liquors are not even aliment.]

I have observed among nations, whose aliment is vegetables and water, that disease and medicine are equally unknown, while those, whose aliment is flesh and fermented liquor, are constantly afflicted with disease, and with medicine more dangerous than disease itself, and not only those guilty of excess, but others, who lead lives of temperance.

These observations show the great importance of the congeniality of aliment, on the discovery and continuance of which depends the inestimable blessing of health, or basis of well-being or happiness.

As my own discoveries in this important subject may be of some use to mankind, I shall relate the state of my own health and aliment.

At a very early period I left my native climate, before excess, debauchery, or diet had done the least injury to my body. I found many of my countrymen in the country of India, suffering under a variety of distempers; for though they had changed their country, they would by no means change their aliment; and to this ignorant obstinacy I attributed the cause of their disorders. To prove this by my own experience, I followed the diet of the natives, and found no change in my health, nor was I affected by the greatest contrariety of climate, to which I exposed myself more than any of my countrymen dared to do.

This led me to consider the nature of aliment upon the human body abstractedly.

Anatomy which discovers the nature and connection of the solids, or material organization of the human body, can give no adequate knowledge of the fluids, or matter in circulation; for these recede from, and are changed or destroyed by all chirurgical operations.

These can only be discovered in our own living bodies, not their cause or nature, but their effect, either latent or manifested in the change or disorder of the functions of life, or the excrement of the body. The ducts or vessels which convey the circulation of the fluids, are certainly affected by the quality of the latter, as the banks of a river are broken down or preserved by the regularity of the current.

As I possess from care and nature a perfectly sound constitution, my body may serve as an example which may generalize the affect of aliment upon most other bodies.

I observed in travelling, if my body was wet, and must continue any time in that state, I abstained from all nourishment till it was dry, and always escaped the usual disorders of cold, rheumatism, and fever. When I was in the frigid zone, I lived upon a nutritious aliment, and eat much butter with beans, peas, and other pulse. In the torrid zone I diminished the nutritious quality of my food, and eat but little butter, and even then found it necessary to eat spices to absorb the humours, whose redundancy are caused by heat, and are noxious in hot climates. In cold climates Nature seems to demand that redundancy, as necessary to strength and health.

The above is an account of the circulation of the fluids in a healthy body. In proportion as bodies have the least duct or vessel foul from morbid habits and peccant humours, they cannot follow the above example; but still it is in the power of wisdom and observation to form a congenial diet, that may be sufficient, though not to procure perfect health, yet may guard against painful sickness, or dangerous disorder; and Nature, treated with constant care, may possibly reform all the injured or befouled ducts and vessels, and return to a state of perfect health.

The present practice of mankind, both of the doctor and patient, proves how distant the mind is from the acme of its powers or intellectual existence.

The doctor applies his theoretic pharmacy, to every disease, as an ignorant bombadier does his mathematical calculations to every kind of gunpowder, by which means the former as rarely hits the point of remedy, as the latter the object of his projectile. Happy would it be for mankind, if their disappointment had the same result!

The doctor acquires the knowledge of his patient's constitution in a period of time that is measured by the drawing and opening of the purse to pay the fee, while the proverb allows the patient forty years to obtain it. The sagacious doctor comprehends the whole in two minutes, and the fee makes up the supplement of all necessary communication.

The study of the catholic remedy of Nature, aliment, infinite as it is in variety, is confined, by most doctors, to broth and boiled meat; and the prescription the most innocent, though ultimately letiferous is, "purges and vomits," which by opening the two doors of the fortress, force the enemy to a partial or momentary retreat, though the auxiliary troops have caused much devastation in their passage.

When drugs of latent operation are applied, all is uncertainty, except debility, premature caducity, and death.

There may be some few instances where the ducts or vessels of the body are so foul, from disease brought on by excess, that Nature requires the assistance of art or efforts of medicine; but I believe these are as five to one hundred, and aliment [dieting] must be allowed to have this great advantage over medicine, that if it does not cure it does not kill.

I believe, if the question, "Whether medicine did more good or harm to mankind" was put to a conscientious physician, he would determine against his own profession. [This actually has been done.]

Remediary aliment, as it requires great sagacity, attention and patience, is neglected, and medicine is preferred, as it favors the natural indolence and ignorance of mankind, and the moment the glorious sun of wisdom shall appear on the moral horizon, learned error, which forms the blackest clouds in the atmosphere, will be first dispelled, that simple ignorance may find its way with ease to the road of happiness and reason. The learned error of medicine poisons the body, as the learned error of morality does the mind, and when these shall give place to sympathy and wisdom, man will acquire the result of all his researches and labors, a sound mind in a sound body. He will also discover, that moral and physical motion have the same double force, centripetal and centrifugal, and that, as the celestial bodies are detained in tranquil orbits, by the diurnal motion upon their own axis, and their annual motion round the sun or systematic centre, so moral bodies conjoined with intellectualized minds, move upon the axis self, in the orbit of society, and the moment this discovery presents itself to human capacity, man will so regulate the centripetal and centrifugal force of self, as to preserve universal harmony in the Moral System of Nature.

Till the knowledge of self, corporeally and intellectually, is discovered, ethics, as well as physic will never procure either happiness or health to mankind; for if the mind is averse to the close attention, through the medium of temperance, which procures a knowledge of the bodily functions, how infinitely more averse must it be to the more difficult attention through the medium of virtue, to procure a knowledge of the mental functions, or self.

The present false systems of ethics and medicine accord in recommending their greatest enemies, ethics industry, and medicine physic.

Let us examine the present effects of industry among mankind. The English are by far the most industrious nation upon the globe; but what is the consequence? Nationally, they are the most powerful and the richest people. From calculation formed on an average of the whole, it would appear that every individual should wear upon his back the value of five days labor; inhabit a house, whose rent is equal to the daily value of four days labor; his daily food equal the value of three days labor; and these calculations are formed upon an average (remember,) of the whole; so that the support of each subject of England may, on the average, require twelve days labor. We will suppose his own superior industry to equal four days labor of a stranger, and his skill or product of his ingenuity is exported and procures him the value of eight days labor from foreign countries. What is ultimately its utility or effect upon his happiness? [under the existing system of property?]

The poor man upon whom the unequal division of labor falls, must be reduced thereby to a piece of mechanism, or mere animal state of existence. His life must be spent in the alternate occupations of toil and sleep, which must deprive his essence of all consciousness, and depress him to a very low state upon the scale of existence, even if bodily health should render him absent from pain, but sickness must render it miserable and deplorable.

Let us now inquire whether the misery of the poor promotes the happiness of the rich. The latter escape from bodily toil, which leaves them in such a vacuum of indolence, that the body loses all its vigor and health, the foundation of happiness. The mind, to avoid stagnation creates various factitious desires and wants, pursuing them with an energy, that agitates, and not undulates the current of life. Castles are occupied by themselves and families, where forms of etiquette and proud ceremony turn their pompous habitations into gloomy prisons, and where the elastic balmy air of the atmosphere is forbid entrance to purify the morbid air of the drawing-room, exhausted with the heat of candles and fire, infected with the respiration of unhealthy and numerous companies, and which turns their inhabitants into spectres in appearance, and invalids in reality. The mind participates of the debility of the body; and memory to avoid the tedium of inactive life, fills itself with all the rubbish of ancient and modern history, courts, domestic anecdotes, which overwhelm the faculties of judgment, and reduce the mind to the same state of unconsciousness with excessive labor, and is evinced by that easy behavior, and thoughtless loquacity of the rich and great, which seem to indicate no vacuum in life, but is, at the same time, a sure proof of want of judgment, sensibility, and consciousness, without which rational existence can have no excellence over animal, and the mind can possess no powers to expand into intellectual existence.

Industry, therefore, according to the present system, seems a necessary evil or a relative good, as it gives power and riches to nations; but the morality of Nature regards all excessive occupation, as an enemy to human happiness, and demands a medium of repose and labor to enable the mind to expand into consciousness, by contemplation of itself, and to invigorate the corporeal faculties, to procure the perfection of essence,—A sound mind in a sound body.

The Arts[edit]


The first art, and the most useful, which quality alone, in an enlightened state of Nature gives pre-eminence, is Agriculture, as on this depends the existence of animate matter; and though a greater proportion of the human race subsist by devouring sentient fellow parts of this matter, yet this evil must cease in an enlightened state of Nature; and man, the great instrument by which Nature operates her own perfection, the moment he is called to intellectual existence, must change his aliment from animal to vegetable, in order to procure both health of body and health of mind. For as animal food tends to pamper the body with gross humors, and inflame the blood which gives strength to the passions, and in the same proportion debilitates the reason, so it must engender disease and vice; but vegetable diet has the contrary effect, which may be proved at any time by experience: though it requires a delicacy of attention, and accuracy of judgment to discover such results.

A man in an enlightened state of Nature will be averse to the violence necessary to procure subsistence by animal food, and the only violence he will permit, and that with extreme regret, will be the destruction of destructive creatures, whom he cannot change by education or prevent by restriction: both of which means he will first attempt, in order that the sacred passion of sympathy may receive no callosity or diminution by hasty or voluntary violence.

The Mechanic Arts[edit]


These useful arts serve to assist the art of agriculture by fabricating its implements, and to combat the inclemencies of the climate, by building houses and making clothes; also to construct arms to oppose destructive animals; to invent also various machines of sport, plays, and enjoyments of every kind.

The Polite Arts[edit]


The Fine Arts—Music, Painting, Sculpture, Engraving, Poetry, Eloquence, &c. are to be studied as contributing much to the comforts and pleasures of life; and Eloquence is highly beneficial, as tending to give form to thought, and to facilitate its communication, by which alone intellectual existence can be promoted or preserved, in the present corrupted state of man, or erroneous civilization. Eloquence is used to communicate thought, biassed and corrupted by the will, and is therefore the the greatest enemy to intellectual existence; for if eloquence had not arrayed error in such seducing ornaments of language, mankind would long ago have been emancipated from the charms of this syren. It is, however, consolatory to human nature, to reflect that the more strength eloquence acquires, the more useful it will become when subdued by wisdom, when as an auxiliary and tributary power, it will amply atone for all the injury it has yet done to mankind in destroying truth; and by extending over the whole world the empire of wisdom, and by surrounding its throne, render it invincible and eternal.

The mechanic and the fine arts are real friends to human nature, and if contemplation of self, or the study of man is not sacrificed thereto, happiness will be greatly indebted to them for much comfort, pleasure and utility. Poetry, eloquence, music, &c. constitute the relaxation of wisdom, who acquires energy from the temporary repose in their tender and voluptuous embraces; but these valuable exercises of the mind are at present basely prostituted to the service of adulation, falsehood, vice, and superstition. But when wisdom shall have gloriously triumphed over the errors of civil institution and the prejudices of credulity and superstition, the fine arts will amply atone for their apostacy and prostitution, by becoming the ministers of truth, virtue and happiness, to support the throne of wisdom.

The Religion of Nature[edit]


Tenet I. Nature is the great integer of being, or matter and motion, without beginning as without end.

II. Mankind are the instruments of Nature in its moral motion, formed to procure well-being or happiness to all animated matter.

III. All animated matter, however organized, changed, or dissolved, is related as parts inseparable from the great integer Nature.

IV. Bodies intellectualized and possessing identifications of I, you, and they, are created to possess consciousness of existence by sensations of pleasure and pain; and though these [individual identities] are annihilated upon the dissolution of the bodies, they still, as parts of Nature, are concerned in the future pain and pleasure of their common integer, from which they are inseparable, though subject to endless change and revolution.

V. Moral and physical motion are subject to fixed laws, which produce volition—the cause of action in animate matter.

VI. The judgment or result of the operation of the mental faculties can have cognizance only of secondary causes which it apparently controls and directs to produce well-being or happiness to its essence, which it will ever suppose to be the end [object] of primary causes.

VII. The human intellect has no power beyond these secondary causes of volition, and their end, which is happiness, all beyond being incomprehensibility; and the reasoning of analogy can influence only from its probability, and that must be considered relative to the happiness of all animated Nature.

VIII. Man, in forming a volition to procure happiness, begins with self as the centre, and extends to the circle formed by all animate matter. He is to will for himself alone, and do no violence to any part of animate matter; and in the orbit of social attraction he must imitate the revolution of the celestial bodies, whose reciprocal repulsion and attraction operate without concussion or violence to the centre, or the point, self. Man cedes not, but reforms his volition when it is in collision with that of another, to acquire more happiness, considering himself a component part in this eternal relation to the great integer of Nature; and by this means he produces and eternizes a system of moral harmony, or pain and pleasure, of which he must ever be a centre, and participate as an eternal part of an eternal integer; which connection is indissoluble, though its mode is incomprehensible, and passes through every form of matter in an infinite revolution.

When the mind takes into contemplation a subject of such importance, novelty and magnitude, as the Religion of Nature, it is apprehensive and alarmed, and descends with caution and terror into its vast profundity. In subjects and researches of infinitely less utility and consequence, how many minds have been debilitated and distracted! The mathematics have sacrificed many victims, astronomy more, the longitude and chemistry have absorbed and deranged many of the most strongly organized faculties, but the subject of religion has so universally deranged and destroyed the human faculties, that reason seems to have lost its powers of pre-eminence, and instinct would be preferred, but that the former contains innate elastic matter, which, when heated by the sun of wisdom, must expand, and reason then assume its pre-eminence and dignity.

Agitated, though not confounded by these discouraging reflections, I shall proceed to give the course of exposition to my thoughts without any regard to ceremonious rules of literature on one hand, or the menaces of prejudice on the other.

To erect the glorious fabric of natural religion, it is by no means necessary to clear away the rubbish of prejudice and priest-craft, which become mere dust when the ponderous stones of truth, of which this fabric is composed, are collected, and the foundation is laid; but lest this dust should embarrass weak eyes, one single observation, like a torrent from the clouds, will condense it to a palpable mud, and wash it all into the common sewer of ignorance.

In every country into which I have travelled, I have always observed that morality and religion were constantly in enmity, and where the one reigned, the other was exiled.

If we begin the parallel of examination in the East, and proceed with it to the West, we find the Asiatic nations occupied one half of the day in ceremonies of religion, while the other half of the day is spent in acts of knavery, fraud and cruelty; sympathy of heart and rectitude of mind are absolutely not only unpractised, but literally unknown. The nations of Europe follow the same parallel, and the most religious countries are here also the most immoral, which Russia and Italy incontestably prove; France and England, as being the least religious, excel in morality, in the same degree as they have abandoned religion.

In England alone this parallel is strongly illustrated, where the most zealous sect in the world becomes an asylum for the most abandoned of mankind, and wisdom seems to have produced an event, which, if the mind viewed it through an unprejudiced medium, would cause religion to become a suicide, and die by its own hand.

This sect of mental idolators have formed a tenet, that declares morality inimical to religion, and that a man obtains the recompense of heaven for credulity alone. The blindness of zeal has led these enthusiasts to produce more evidence in favor of natural religion and truth, than the most ingenious and elaborate arguments of a child of Nature.

Priests of all other religions, however they may impose their reveries upon the ignorance of their votaries, have policy enough to sanctify their follies with morality, in order to procure the support of government, which participating of the error and prejudice of the governed, is not able to detect the shallow artifice of priestcraft, which, by the dispensation of pardon for the most atrocious crimes, betrays itself almost as openly as does the enthusiasm of the methodists; and the tariff of expiations and atonements of the one, and the impious blasphemy against virtue of the other, is ample evidence to convict such religions in the court of wisdom and conscience, of impiety, falsehood and treason, to the happiness and well-being of all sensitive Nature.

If these observations are not comprehensible or satisfactory, I must refer my reader to the "System of Nature" written in French by M. Mirabaud, [now ascribed to Baron D'Holbach,] where error is so closely combatted and pursued in all its recesses, that the mind by irresistible conviction emerges from its abyss, and seeks with impatience a new guide, or the light of Nature, which I hope will be found in these pages, and that they will form a complete supplement to that work.

The progress of human thought, or moral motion, to the meridian of human essence, has been repressed and arrested by an assent of the mind, to Intelligence as being the primary cause of all matter and motion, from its property of order and analogy with human intelligence. But what effect does this assent produce? a painful acquiesence in the evils of life, filled with doubt and terror of futurity.

The Religion of Nature considers the cause of motion as incomprehensible, and studies only the effect as being interesting and important, and sanctioned by Utility, which is the god of Nature. When hunger propels, does the wise man hesitate to eat till he has discovered the cause of that passion? No, he earnestly sets about procuring its gratification. So does the child of Nature, with moral motion or action; he considers not its cause but studies to conduct it to its end, or the well-being of self, as the centre of the great system of animated matter, which, like the celestial systems of planets, moves in the order of unitary influence, and no part of the one can lose its gravity or attraction, or the other its sympathy or rectitude, without communicating disorder or pain to the whole; and the moral world must remain in its present chaos, till wisdom has gained the first combat over coercion, and confined it to the succinct law of restraining the will of violators; and in this state it would soon exhaust its own element and dissolve.

This triumph of wisdom can only be accelerated by the enormities of political evils, and destructive warfare, which having the same direful effect as anarchy in individual states, will render the confederacy of nations as necessary to the safety of mankind, as is domestic government.

At this aera all national competition being destroyed, and the peaceful communication of commerce promoting intellectual intercourse, individual competition will also relax; and Industry, the dreadful enemy to truth and happiness, which under the veil of necessity and avarice, is cultivated as a friend, will be changed for repose, the only medium through which intellectual existence or consciousness can be obtained. The industry which Nature demands as the means of existence and comfort, is repose when compared with the destructive toil, which the competition of nations, and the avarice of powerful individuals, imposes on their fellow-creatures.

Among the various devices and contrivances, which the ingenuity of man has invented, through civil, political and domestic institutions, to fill up the measure of life, is that of the arch-fiend, Industry, who has pierced a hole in the bottom of the vessel, which, like the urn of the Danaides, excites and mocks the laboring hands that fill it.

The laws of civil society are not invented to protect the indigent: for the rich merchant or land-holder holds them in a subjection from the necessity of subsistence, which, law has as yet contrived no remedy to relieve them in, and policy seems not to demand it, or to measure it by the common standard of political necessity.

The poor artizan, who may have a wife and several children, labors, we will suppose, for two shillings sterling per day: this is but barely sufficient to maintain his own person; what then becomes of his family? Death, no doubt, relieves many, and misery drags on the rest to a state of feeble manhood. The same observation applies to the peasant and his landlord.

The poor, then, have no dependence, but on the humanity and generosity of the rich, and in proportion as the latter are virtuous or wicked, the poor are more or less miserable. This is exemplified by the state of the poor in England and Ireland.

In England, where the land-holders are more temperate, and humane, and less dissipated, the poor are better paid, though they enjoy but little repose. In the latter country, the dissipation and hard character of the Irish gentlemen, render the state of the peasant very miserable, though both countries are governed by nearly the same laws.

In France, where they have been obliged, in the late revolution, to stretch out the hand of the law to draw the peasant from an abyss of misery, as soon as the establishment of government shall remove the fears of the rich, the abolition of taxes, feudal rights, &c. &c. will be demanded, either from the labor or purse of the poor; for the rich man has the same advantage over him in the barter of his labor, as an opulent usurer over the necessitous borrower, and dictates the contract. If law interfere to relieve the poor, by fixing the quantity and price of labor, policy urges the competition of nations to demand much labor at a low price, in order that commerce may be extended, and moral motion propelled by ignorance, forms millions of miserable ducts or identities, to contaminate the stages of happiness, through which animate matter, in its eternal revolution, commutes the indissoluble connection of identity and Nature.

The only part of the religion of Nature that demands explication from its novelty and importance is, the connection between self and Nature.

Self is a material something arising from the aggregate mass of Nature and dissolving by separation of the parts into the same mass, which sends forth in other combinations the same something or indestructible matter, eternally connected with its integer as heat is with fire, or any other effect with its cause; The mode of this connection, human intellect cannot comprehend, but must assent to its existence. Its utility is alone sufficient to inspire this idea, as the happiness of man could not be perfect without it; for though the virtuous and benevolent idea, to will for yourself, might establish a system of temporal happiness, yet the mind would want grandeur and expansion to support that simple truth without the comprehensible doctrine of immortality, in the indissoluble connection with Nature, which gives us an eternal interest to remove all evil from the course of Nature, in which we ever have, and ever shall continue to exist.

Body and identity of man or manhood, like fire and heat, may be changed or commuted, and in portions what was fire may become man, and what was man become fire; the connection with Nature being the same in all its parts, animate or inanimate; but motion in the former has the power of procuring happy combinations or identities; and the volition that propels that motion is motived by happiness, which it procures to its present, and perpetuates to all future stages of its revolution into sensitive Nature, by which self, or the moral system, is temporally and eternally benefited.

The religion of Nature differs from invented religion, as the former adores the effect of motion, which is comprehensible, and the latter the cause of motion, which is incomprehensible.

The effect of moral motion, which is to procure happiness or well-being to all sensitive Nature, through the volition and intellectual faculty of man, proves self, or the moral system, the instrument of that motion, to be the only god or intelligence that ought to command the veneration of mankind, and recognized under the unitary attribute of utility to the moral system, or recognized self.

When wisdom opens on the mind of man, self feels an inceptive expansion, which in a parallel progress with its cause, leads the mind to a view of the extensive chain of all Nature, whose extremes are infinite and undiscoverable; but such a length of it is manifested, as shows the mind how the motion of one link agitates the whole, and that the least violence committed on a fly, agitates the whole chain, and communicates its vibration to all sensitive Nature.

Let us suppose that a man, who is incommoded by a fly, instead of driving it away, kills it. Utility to the system of Nature, the only standard of moral motion or action, may be applied to this act in the following manner: The fly in committing an act of violence on my body, agitates the chain of Nature: it is useful to remove this cause, but utility does not demand the annihilation of it by death, because it disproportions the means to the end, and infects, by a motive of resentment, the disposition of the mind for universal sympathy and benevolence. The destruction of the tiger and lion, when brought to the standard of utility, may be justified in proportion to the violence they cause the human species, which, as being the most happy existence of matter, is to be preferred to the brute. When the tiger infests the environs of man's habitation, utility requires him to be destroyed, and this would cause no vibration of the chain, because it would re-establish a counterpoise to the effect of the concussion began by the violence of the tiger; but when the hunter wantonly seeks him in the forest to destroy him, to promote the pleasure of the chase, the chain of Nature would be agitated by this act of remote utility; for utility must be urgent to justify the least act of violence, otherwise the volition becomes corrupted, and the source of moral motion being polluted, its streams would convey the cause of moral pestilence or vice over all humanity.

It is needless, after demonstrating the injury of violence to brutes on the whole system of self or Nature, to bring examples of the higher injury of that committed by man on man. This is discovered by the weakest minds in a state of barbarism, and laws and customs are established to prevent it; but these having only a partial and local effect, the violence of nation on nation has corrupted their domestic institutions, and the collective violence of despotic government has destroyed the peaceful effect of custom in private life, and the existence of man is dragged on, through a system of civil and moral violence, to death or a new birth. Error has so riveted her chains on humanity, that if any child of Nature inspired by sympathy, probity and wisdom, (which bind him to substitute the silken cord of self in system,) should dare to break the chain of civil and religious superstition, he would be regarded as an enemy to that Nature, whose cause he maintains, and whose reign he labors to establish.

The Thames that flows through London, though despised in its inanimate state, after it has passed the various conduits of water-engines, aqueducts and boilers, in a few hours is taken by digestion into the system of man—as a portion of whom, it views the proud turrets it has but just washed—eats of the fish it had served as an element—speaks as an orator in the senate—to direct, cleanse, or contract the stream of which a few hours before it formed a part, murmuring under Westminster bridge, and perhaps ascending to the acme of moral perfection in a child of Nature, it prepares happy identities for the remainder of its water, which rises in a few hours from the inanimate muddy bed of the Thames, to a state of sentiment of eternal and indissoluble connection with Nature, or intellectual existence, where wisdom systematizes happiness, and consciousness enjoys it; and where self, expanded to the boundaries of all Nature, moves in an irrefragable moral system to appropriate and universalize well-being to all sensitive matter, in time and eternity.

The sheep and oxen that some hours ago filled Smithfield with their groans, under the cruel goads of brutal drivers, after passing the short stages of the slaughterhouse, kitchen and table, become orators in the houses of parliament, and dictate laws to relieve their derelicted and tormented relatives, into whose identities their connections may again return, and profit of that sympathy and probity, which was intended to relieve others. O religionists! here is a code of retributory laws, of rewards and punishments, if your intellectual idol of worship, had been supported by such a system, he would have been less odious, though not less imaginary.

Let the proud and ignorant tyrants of the earth, called kings, reflect that portions of the pompous body of royalty, carried in the coach of state, in the revolutions of a few moments, hours, days or years, may be in the humble body of the horse drawing some other proud and ignorant human identity; and that the incomprehensible, though avowed and conscious connection of identity and Nature is eternally changing its position, and the matter in human identity, the source and cause of moral motion, is capable of rendering that position happy or miserable to all sensitive Nature.

This reflection contains in itself all the principles of wisdom and virtue—shows the intimate connection of all matter, animate and inanimate—improves and augments that sympathy, which intuitively testifies to its truth, and renders coercion, the real enemy of happiness and well-being—abhorred and avoided—expands self into system, dissipates the chaos of the moral world, and reduces it to an order of system and revolution, similar to, and as unchangeable as that of the physical world.

The ignorant and unhappy being, whose volition dares violate the liberty of any sensitive part of Nature, causes by that concussion such a vibration on sympathy, or the universal chain of Nature, as communicates a dreadful shock of misery to the present, and also to the future stages of his connection with Nature.

The cause of these concussions or criminal operations of the animal man is, ignorance; for if he had strength of intellect to comprehend the moral system of self, the centre, and sensitive Nature, the sphere, united, it would be as impossible for him to do the least act of violence, by forcing his will upon another, as to bore a hole in the ship on which he is a passenger, or pull down the lower story of a house of which he is an inhabitant, because the apartment was his own.

In the Religion of Nature all idea of merit and demerit is done away, for the only difference between men consists in the degree of wisdom they possess. All men being in pursuit of the same two objects, truth and happiness, they will conduct self thereto, according to the different directions their weaker or stronger mental faculties furnish. The assassin, who murders, and the child of Nature, who saves a fellow-creature, have the same end in view, viz. happiness. The former in a state of ignorance mistakes the means, and the latter, through wisdom, takes the right means, and arrives at the object. The one is an object of pity, which having led a life of misery, is annihilated by the laws of society, and broke in pieces, like an ill-formed vessel, and returned to the great mass of clay, from whence he may be renewed in a more perfect form or existence.

This proves the necessity and infinite advantage and importance of augmenting the powers of thought or human intellect, which can only be done by a free communication of sentiment of all mankind; and all individuals or bodies of men, who under the influence of vulgar fears and prejudices, are alarmed at the progress of truth, and attempt, by force and violence, to restrain its operations, are traitors to self and Nature.

Truth, it is said, is dangerous; yes, it is indeed, but it is to error only; for truth cannot be dangerous to truth. This prejudice has been supported by mistaking relative for abstract truth.

The moment the beacon of wisdom, or universal truth in the system of self and Nature, is elevated, the rocks of relative truth, mistaken as havens, are discovered, and the pilot, Reason, instead of casting anchor thereon, passes on with the gentle breeze of reform, to approximate the glorious and eternal haven of happiness to all sensitive Nature.

While the moral horizon is dark with error and prejudice, the rocks of relative truth are undiscovered, and the absurd and destructive truths, institutions of mankind, are sanctified. The inquisition in Spain, that moral monster, becomes benevolence and truth, when measured by the following considerations, or relative standard:

If the Spaniards are permitted through the liberty of the press, to introduce heresy, or the Protestant religion, the consequence of this among a bigotted people, would be civil war and bloodshed.

The political inquisition, which reigns in every country on the globe, except America, reasons from the same relative standard, in order to rebel against the rights of Nature, and to impeach its prime minister, human thought, by barbarous restrictions on the liberty of the press, lest political heresies might produce dangerous reforms, by the violent means of insurrections.

This great variety of standard of opinion is the cause of all the moral evils which afflict human nature, who demands one absolute standard of wisdom, virtue, truth and happiness. This standard, the Religion of Nature has established with the clearest conviction, and teaches in the simplest modes for comprehension, to lead mankind to the acme of essence, intellectual existence, and an enlightened state of Nature.

Principles of Association or Civilization[edit]




It is evident that moral motion can never conduct man in the orbit of harmony or society, till it has discovered some common centre or sun of attraction.

This centre then must be self, and must be discovered by the free and perfect exercise of the mental faculties, which lays open the knowledge of self, and in consequence, the means of procuring well-being and happiness; and shows the free exercise of a wise volition to be the only principle on which is founded the happy existence of man.

As the passion of self preservation, or safety of life, operates with great power against the principles of natural religion, or eternal and universal happiness of the great integer Nature, which is—to do no violence to any part of sensitive Nature, though the safety of life is to be acquired by such an act, for the period of identified existence is as nothing in comparison with our eternal existence in the integer Nature, and violence once permitted becomes a leaven that acerbates the great mass with long ages of misery, of which man, as being ever a part of Nature, must in future partake.

The first operation of wisdom is to procure and preserve the means of existence, and secure to it absolute liberty; and as for this purpose many selfs, or beings are to be concentrated, the principles of natural religion and morality are to be inculcated, and the mental faculties are to be improved and exercised, to obtain a state of intellectual existence.

Man, in this state, sensible of his relation to all Nature, must in all social organization comprehend all the inhabitants of the globe upon which he exists, and so subdivide and connect this universal association, as to give it one spring and one object, viz. the well-being of all animated Nature.

This must have its source in social subdivisions, or partial cohabitations. The number of individuals to be contained in these must be directed by the means of assistance, comfort and communication. The first is necessary to produce subsistence, as in the cultivation of the lands; the second to promote the pleasures of life in amusements and conversation; and the last to exercise and extend the intellectual faculties, and form such a social and wise volition as may assimilate, by its conformity to natural religion, the volition of all other cohabitations, forming the universal association, and procuring thereby to man the plenitude of well-being in a state of enlightened Nature.

These cohabitations should consist of no more than one hundred males, and one hundred females; they should live in one house, eat at the same table, participate in labor and pleasure in common, and cultivate a general volition as their guide; this should be communicated to other cohabitations by missions, and twenty of those might be called a community, twenty communities might form a province, and twenty provinces a common-wealth, twenty common-wealths might form unions, and twenty unions the university or centre of association of the whole globe. The reciprocal communications of these divisions by missions might concentre the volitions, and direct and augment the progress of wisdom, to confirm or improve the state of enlightened Nature.

In this state, law would be liberty, wisdom virtue, and volition happiness. The relation of Nature would supersede all other, and every one would be either the parent or the child of the community; even erroneous civilization holds this extension and affection so sacred, that a citizen of the world reaches the acme in the gradations of virtue and fame; to what height, then, on the pinnacle of virtue and fame must a citizen of Nature rise, if the weak intellects of man were capable of contemplating such a character, or could discover, by improved intellectual faculties, the virtue of that scale, whose basis instructive truth has already made familiar to their infantine knowledge?

Wherever in this work I have attempted to reconcile the truth of the religion of Nature to practice, in the present ignorant and miserable state of mankind I have been sensible of its extreme incongruity and apparent extravagance, and know well the opportunities to ridicule it, which I have furnished to the talent of ingenuity supplanting the talent of thought; but the truth of Nature is above all the powers of wit, and the man, whose extreme sensibility and sympathy permits him not, knowingly, to tread upon an ant, may be thought extravagant; but I defy all the powers of wit and ingenuity to render him ridiculous.

Abstract truth may be disseminated like seed; and it cannot be planted, but its growth or vegetation will be equally certain, though it cannot be directed or explained; I demand only the uncontrolled liberty of the press, and that is established in America, to which country the child of Nature must retire, if error and prejudice should persecute or impede the promulgation of human thought, the germ of Nature to produce the perfection of existence.

A Review of the Present Institutions of Society[edit]


of the effect of the


to promote or impede the


to a state of



In order to make this important investigation, we must first expose the nature of the animal, man; we find him to be a machine of matter, composed of affections or passions, and intellectual faculties to direct those passions, to perpetuate, assure, and render happy his existence; the affections cannot be gratified, nor the intellect improved, but by placing him in a social state.

When man was first placed in a social state, if his intellectual powers were perfect, association would be a happy collision, whose force would produce only happy sensations, and procure universal well-being; but as it requires a revolution of many ages of social collision, in order to produce wisdom, or a knowledge of self, mankind in social connections are agitated by concussions in proportion to their numbers and their ignorance, and have established systems of coercion, to secure them from the violence of these concussions, and have been obliged to give up much of their happiness for a precarious security of existence.

This coercion operates with less or more force, in proportion to the increased passions of the different species of man.

The Laplander having no wants or passions except the primary ones of hunger and lust, and these being abundantly provided for by Nature, knows no coercion, and at the same time the intellectual faculties not being called upon for aid, leave the man in a state of existence hardly superior to the beast, having but little consciousness of being, and therefore knowing neither the extreme of pain nor pleasure. Could, however, a civilized being, from a love of liberty, be brought to a residence among these people, to seek an asylum from coercion, and to calm the tempest of his various acquired passions, he might communicate to them his wisdom without his wants, and by that means bring them to a state of intellectual existence, and enlightened Nature: in which the mind possesses the full force of its faculties, to direct the volition to happiness, and the body, its physical powers unrestrained, to execute that volition in the plenitude of liberty.

Let us now examine the modes and principles of coercion, or government, as employed by the different associations of mankind.

Almost all nations are subjugated by two sorts of coercion,—civil and religious,—the one exercised by the magistrates or king, and the other by the priests or clergy: The political despotism is the more active, and restrains the violent concussions of the various passions of its subjects; while the church, under pretence of alliance, undermines and relaxes the power of the state authorities, though apparently it upholds them.

That the concussions or violence of society ever have been, and still are augmented by religion, is past all doubt; but as it pretends to compensate these evils by augmenting the terror of punishment in the hand of the civil magistrate, it procures a general toleration or cultivation from the torce of this illusion.

Let us consider these pretensions, and endeavor to expose with irresistible evidence the real existence of this illusion.

Theologists, after having exhausted all the fertility of human imagination, have personified their god under so many shapes, that in the darker ages of the world they excited ridicule, but now cause convulsive laughter. They have, at the same time, placed in his hands various and dreadful modes of punishment, which, had they been rendered inevitable and inexpiable upon any breach of the moral law, would, no doubt, have been efficient; but then the inutility of religion, or the profession of priestcraft, would have been discovered; so that in order to render their agency of some consequence, they declared all crimes expiable by confession and penitence, which their ministry is to direct and dispose of. Hence their detestable encouragement to vice by using the religious assurance, that "There is more joy in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth, than in ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance." And this their consolation and hope held out to villainy and turpitude, is sufficient to damn all their religion, without requiring any further testimony.

The consolatory joy testified in hallelujahs or songs of triumphant vice, at the execution of malefactors, going to receive the inheritance of virtue, would alone be sufficient, [were its influence general,] to remove all terrors from the sword of temporal justice in the hand of the magistrate, and threaten the dissolution of order and extinction of virtue.

Let us leave this enemy to human happiness in a state of contempt below ridicule, and contemplate with equal astonishment and regret the illusion in which the civil government remains, respecting the utility of priestcraft, to support social order or civil authority, and attribute its cause to the dreadful apprehensions the mind receives when agitated by important reforms or innovations.

Let us now consider how coercion operates in the organization of civil government, to guard mankind from the effects of ignorance, or the violences and concussions caused by the animal man's not knowing self, and consequently the means of procuring well-being.

The violence of individuals in the first state of society upon the personal liberty of each other, facilitated the enterprises of ambitious princes to establish a system of coercion.

Property, or the separation of interest, and personal security, were established, and liable to be invaded only by one person, [or a few,] instead of every one. This, in the beginning or early age of society, was found to be advantageous; as unoccupied land was abundant, and population scanty, there could be no poverty; but as mankind increased, this ultimately became an enormous evil, subjugating millions to the caprice and avarice of a few, and was the origin of all moral evil.

The first principle of association, subsistence, being thus destroyed, it became necessary then in order to secure the submission of suffering indigent millions to deprive them of their liberty; and this was effected by the power of law, or will of princes, made known by the establishment of civil institutions.

Happiness and existence being invaded by their pretended protector, coercion, nothing was left sacred. Institutions of past ages were confirmed and augmented by new ones in the present. The demon, coercion, extended its province, changed parents into cruel task-masters, perverted the innocent desires and affections into vices, the inimical and vicious passions of violence and dominion into virtues, and completed the destruction of liberty and happiness; and coercion, which was established to protect the wise and virtuous from the ignorant and wicked, changed its character of protector to that of tyrant.

In the early ages of the world, the ignorance that pervaded all mankind, by accumulating men in society, formed a Colossus of vice, and they continually acting with augmented passion and violence, invaded the associations of each other. Social safety now demanded what individual began, the augmentation of political coercion or energy of nations. This necessity rivetted the chains on individual liberty, and coercion was augmented to universal despotism.

I hope that the time is arrived, and that this work may have the glory to mark the epoch, when human reason, rising from the iron bed of error, awakened by the sun of wisdom, shall invert all the faculties of the mind, to which knowledge has given energy, upon self, and elevating its eagle flight above all customs and habits of institution or education, look down upon the uncovered labyrinth of error and ignorance, and direct the clue which shall lead wandering, confounded man to the door of intellectual existence and enlightened Nature.

The basis on which coercion is at present established is, social defence; but this basis will wear away as wisdom increases and nations become collectively virtuous and just.

Industry, the offspring of avarice, ambition and discontent, in a state of tempestuous misery, will no longer be considered as a virtue, when compared to the repose of benevolence, peace and content, in a state of intellectual existence and enlightened Nature; and the peaceful monks of a convent, when divested of hypocrisy and superstition, will be regarded as the magnanimous conquerors of self; and sully by the comparison, the predatory triumphs of Alexander the Great, whom poets and historians have immortalized, while reason despises both the subject, and the adulating and silly authors.

While ignorance darkens the moral atmosphere, industry is highly advantageous to its votaries, individually or nationally. Individually, they extend the boundaries of volition, and nationally they acquire power to invade the liberty and property of neighboring countries, and for the present augment their own, though the violence they commit will eventually produce its destruction, by the authority of example and the law of custom.

Let us now examine the effects of civilization, or political, civil and domestic coercion upon the well-being of the animal man, and compare them with the effects of a contrary system of liberty or enlightened Nature.

Domestic or parental coercion begins with life, and ends with manhood.

Through all this long period, the parent participates his authority and care with the tutor, to cultivate wisdom and virtue in the mind of the child. The tutor places the child on a bench, to which he is chained by the terrors of punishment. Books are presented to his mind, which observes only the words, and transfers them to memory; the ideas, fortunately for the cause of wisdom, are beyond its capacity. This occupation of the memory in sounds and signs is interrupted by a few moments of play, or a vacation, spent in the company of parents, who crowd precept upon precept into the mind, with a velocity in proportion to the short time of domestic residence. The child has received these into the memory with the same momentary impression and retention, as the tutor's instruction, and the example of his comrades or school-fellows erases them totally, by the ordinary customs and habits of children, who constantly when left to themselves, as they generally are in the present system of education, exercise every kind of personal violence to force their will upon their inferiors in age and strength, and arrive at the age of manhood with a heart formed to violence, or the all of vice; and a head full of letters, and void of every idea that might grow into wisdom, to conduct them to the well-being of their essence.

The code of morality which he has read at school, placing virtue in the abstinence from pleasure and from the gratification of the most innocent of our desires, finishes his instruction, and sends him forth to the world, to perform his part as a link in the chain of society.

He now sets out in his career of life, with knowledge instead of wisdom for a guide. This directs him to the means of subsistence; but as his being, with a strong and innate propensity, lusts after happiness, his senses, which alone can furnish the ingredients or means, are immediately employed, and under the blind guidance of knowledge, the shadowy substitute of wisdom, he is led to mistake pain for pleasure, misery for happiness, and vice for virtue.

The code of ethics has so closely connected sympathy and probity, the all of virtue, with the abstinence from pleasure or the means of happiness, that a glance of desire or lascivious eye being cast on beauty, where Nature is bursting the cobweb barriers of illusive morality, the Rubicon of virtue is passed, and the whole chain of virtue is dissolved, and the extreme sensibility of an honest sympathetic soul is abandoned to one common sink of infamy, along with inhumanity and falsehood.

Such is the education of civilization; now let us view its opposite, or that of enlightened Nature.

Here the child, associated in the earliest period with manhood and with society its parent, enjoying absolute liberty, following the dictates of Nature, and controlled only by the surrounding example and admonition of age, receives spontaneously the useful ideas of wisdom, which age communicates, while it enjoys all the happiness of the sports and plays of coequals; by which system of education the body and mind gain equal vigor, and present the adult, elevated to a state of intellectual existence, to enter upon a social state of happiness, and hold its place as a link in the extensive chain of all animated Nature.

Wisdom then becomes his monitor; directs and controls his volition to the exact measure of present and eventual happiness; and well-organized society, in an enlightened state of Nature, guarantees to him the free exercise of a wise volition, which takes its course in the wide orbit of animated matter round the centre self, and the whole system is upheld by sympathy, the universal and only moral law.

Upon a general comparative review of these two systems, civilization seems to have lost sight of Nature, and reasoning from relation, establishes a system of coercion to secure existence and to establish misery.

The relative state of mankind may justify practice or action by necessity; but speculation, or the free operations of human thought to extricate the being from wretchedness or moral evil, can never be controlled by relation while it soars to an eminence to take an unobstructed view of the moral world; but in its descent, or the approximation of practice to speculation, then reason allows sympathy and probity, to be temporized with, and to cast a veil over the effulgence of wisdom, that the intellect may not be confounded by its dazzling splendor.



It would be happy for mankind, if the source of knowledge [schools of learning,] and libraries of every kind, were locked up from all access; and these means so effectual and so much recommended by learned idiots to keep man from the (as they call it) "painful" study of self, could be temporally suspended, and self alone presented to the contemplation of all mankind; then would the universal standard of well-being, or truth, the sun of the moral world, arise above the dark hemisphere of error, and attract the moral powers into the irrefragable order of system. Then would the chaos, caused by offensive volition disappear, and defensive volition become a sacred and incontrovertible maxim, whose destruction would be as impossible in the moral world, as that of attraction is in the physical.

It may be objected, that without the invasion or violation of defensive volition, man would not labor to procure subsistence—this objection is unfounded. The above maxim can prevail only in a state of wisdom, and the defensive volition of man guided thereby, could never be disgusted with labor, the cause of life and of health of body and mind; he would guard only against its excess which at present is the cause of all misery to civilized society.

Another objection of a more apparent justice and importance might be raised, viz. that the education of children would oblige parents or tutors to violate the defensive volition of man. The mode of conduct by which to avoid this violence we find among nations in a savage state: surely then human reason is able to reconcile and modify that conduct, so as to adapt it to gradual improvement. I must here repeat the observation I have so often made: that the extremities of abstract and practical truth are so distant, that it is out of the power of human wisdom to unite them; and the vain attempts of men who had more learning than wisdom to effect this, have served only to condense the clouds of truth, and bring ridicule upon wisdom's self.

The great maxim in natural life, to cause, and not to force a will, is adopted by many parents, even in the present state of erroneous civilization, in proportion as they possess more of the qualities of benevolence and Wisdom; and this conduct extended to all their social relations, wives, parents and subjects, is called liberality, and is the true virtue of Nature, instinctive sympathy.

As the system of Nature explained and established in the foregoing work, may have caused much pain to tender minds, in separating them from beloved prejudices, the following reflections will, I hope, procure abundant consolation.

If I have, with the gigantic arm of natural reason, dethroned the tremendous phantom of imagination, the god of error, created by fear, to torture his own creatures to gratify the vices of revenge and cruelty, I have substituted the sympathetic deity, connection of Self and Nature, to give eternal happiness to his creatures, to elevate the mortal to comprehensible immortality—to assure the recompense of vice and virtue, which the falsehood of priest-craft cannot alienate with the sophistry that calls happiness merit, and misery demerit—to establish a form of rewards and punishments, from which they draw a revenue to pride and avarice.

Let us view the situation of the man of virtue, whose volition is directed by wisdom to conduct self in its double movement, round its own axis and in the orbit of society. The centripetal force, or selfish volition, must be prevented from being absorbed by attraction or sympathy into the orbit of other selfs or society. This counterpoise is preserved by the intellectual faculties or wisdom.

If a child of Nature sees a fellow-creature drowning, he flies to his assistance, and uses every effort to save him without destroving himself; so in misery and distress, he participates his competency or abundance to relieve the object without involving himself. The quality of sympathy has that well-proportioned energy to extend the consciousness of existence into the great orbit of sensitive Nature, which is of itself an intellectual pleasure beyond description. The qualities of sympathy and probity, the result of wisdom, procure such mental and bodily health, as makes happiness independent of accident, and the comfort, and aid, and applause he receives from the love and esteem of his fellow-creatures, augment his pleasures only as they are tokens of a happiness of which he is himself both the cause and recipient.

What greater reward can a child of Nature demand for procuring so much happiness to self in system?

What punishment can the unhappy child of civilization dread, for suffering and causing misery which he acquired not wisdom to prevent? View the man of vice agitated by the tempestuous violence of his passions, mistaking misery for happiness, pain for pleasure; reduced from want of wisdom to a mere animal state of existence, in order to preserve a life, which any degree of consciousness would annihilate; his benevolence or friendship is but the delirium of virtue, or forgetfulness of self bestowed on vicious companions, and pity is all the aid he receives till his misery increases, when abandoned by his associates in vice and misery, he leaves the world without ever realising that he had been in it, and his connection assumes a future form, to undergo the misery his former connection had caused and perpetuated.

Religionists, through the medium of the system of Nature, may make a compromise with imaginary theology, by calling God the effect of motion, instead of the cause; the indissoluble connection of Self and Nature—the immortal soul; and the reciprocal change of identity, or medium of connection or transmutation of matter into matter—the law of just retribution, since the volition of man is the cause of present and future happiness or misery.

The fair medium of connection or identity, called woman, seated in the pompous chariot, is every moment changing its atoms with the bodies of the horses that draw it, in common with all other parts of Nature. All bodies are constantly changing their substance one with another, which proves the identity of person to be only a duct or mould, through which matter passes in its eternal revolution, and their connection with Nature is the same as in the violin producing a melodious air, or the human body producing a virtuous volition, only, that the latter, possessing a more complicated organization, produces consciousness to feel pain and pleasure, and to direct moral motion to convey happiness to matter in time present and future.

As volition, therefore, is the cause of moral motion, self is the only agent of which the human mind can have any comprehension, and which claims all the study and reverence of man.

Self, when made known by wisdom, can possess only a defensive volition or desire to acquire happiness through the medium of the passions, which are all innocent, though they may demand the compliance of fellow selfs; yet, as they are furnished with means to conciliate that compliance, all violence, which alone renders passion criminal, becomes unnecessary, and leaves passion the only medium of happiness.

The human mind in a state of ignorance and barbarism, when self in system is unknown, forms offensive volition, which would destroy the human species, if society did not oppose to it the coercion of government; this, however, not having wisdom, did but augment the evil, by changing individual into social violence; hence all the political evils of violence, war and despotism, which reciprocally augment each other, and can never be annihilated till the powers of wisdom, disclosing the secrets of the moral world, lead the mind to a knowledge of self and Nature.

In the present state of mankind, when civilization and individual happiness are both founded on error, let us view the conduct of man.

Every one acts with an intention to procure happiness to self. The miser who contemplates his hoard; the libertine, who dissipates it; and the prudent man, who economizes it; act all from the same motive, though with opposite means. It is not so difficult a matter as it at first appears to determine accurately and positively the different degrees of happiness or misery acquired by each.

The human countenance is a true and perpetual index of the pain and pleasure felt by the heart; joy or grief, when extreme, give the strongest tokens, and when weak, still give indications, though not so distinct; the neutral state is marked by an absence of all tokens.

Let a register or diary be kept of the countenances of the three characters before mentioned. In the miser, incessant and strong indications of joy and grief, will alternately mark the page; the neutral state will have but few periods; and the calendar will close its latter pages of death with unchangeable tokens of extreme grief.

The diary of the libertine will have the numbers of joy greatly exceed those of grief in the early pages; but the middle and close will be filled with invariable tokens of grief, caused by sickness, poverty and sorrow; and the page of conclusion will be black with the agonies of a lingering death.

The prudent man, whom wisdom directs, spends his treasure in acts of benevolence to others, and in modified pleasure, which clears the thorns from the roses. Benevolence operating in the heart, leaves no vacancy in the countenance, but diffuses over it an indication of joy, more to be valued, on account of its long duration, than the convulsions of sudden and extreme joy. Pleasure of which he so wisely participates, breaks upon the countenance with the undulations of the zephyr, to agitate the calm of benevolence; and the register of life closes with a calm of sleep into the renovating lap of his parent Nature.

There are nations and individuals in the world, the vivacity of whose conduct recommends a life of dissipation or unmodified pleasure, as the impulse of their passions seem to drive them, without a vacuum through life; and these are the French and the Irish.

Women, the object and source of pleasure, are fond of these characters, not as they are apt to flatter themselves, for their superior personal prowess, but because their minds being merely animal, dictate and maintain a conversation and intercourse, that consoles the weaker sex for their debasement when in intercourse with intellectual minds of men. Such individuals are mere animals, without consciousness as without thought, and seem formed to pass through life like the brutes, without a knowledge of their existence.

The debased state of intellect in women is caused and perpetuated by the tyranny of men, who force them to a state of ignorance, and then claim a right to command and control them; there is, however, a quantity of life and latent intellect in their constitution, which, when truth shall be divested of all clouds of sophistry, and the ingenious invention of men, they will see, and embrace it before man, as they possess one of the greatest human attributes, sympathy, in a very superior degree to man; and the other attribute, probity, a very small proportion of wisdom would procure; and until women are enabled by a proper education to cultivate their talent or power of intellect, and by custom to assume their equality with man, it will be impossible to bring the chaos of the moral world into any order or system.

The great enemy of wisdom is that absurd dogma, that truth is dangerous to be taught the vulgar, and ignorance is cultivated in order to procure an apology for error; and the most infamous blasphemy against humanity and Nature, is propagated by this detestable aphorism.

The cause of motion has been accurately personified, under the name of God, with various attributes to form an image of terror, which might force submission to error; but the imagination has, through its own folly, defeated that purpose, and it is not fear that produces the whole effect, but the subject being of much intricacy and importance, occupies the thoughts, and prevents their comprehending the proper object, man himself.

If metaphysical doctrines had not been invented, and the occupation of the human mind entirely taken up with their investigation, the arts and sciences, carried to the highest degree of perfection, would not have furnished aliment enough for the voracious appetite of the human intellect, and the knowledge of self, or theory of the moral system, would ages ago have been discovered and reduced to practice.

What effect has this fear or terror of God upon man, when through a life of ignorance he violates the system of Nature, and brings misery upon self as its centre? One tear dropped upon the bed of dissolution appeases the anger of his imaginary deity. But what is the effect of this terror upon nations? These when they agitate with the dreadful concussion of war, the holy chain of the sympathy of Nature, they call it an appeal to God, and make the phantom of their imagination an apology for cruelty and destruction. The fact is, that nations have long since emancipated collectively the human mind from all metaphisical absurdities; and if they treat of them, it is only to throw a tub to the whale; to divert the attention of the vulgar from the miseries, which the vice and ignorance of the great and rich bring upon them by subjugating them to institutions, calculated to enslave and oppress them.

Under all the various forms in which human institutions have organized nations, the poor have been ever left a prey to the rich; who, in proportion to the sympathy they possess, have rendered them happy or miserable. Laws, if properly established, would no doubt procure them relief; but the rich, who make the laws, wish for no alteration; and nothing but extreme necessity, brought about by insurrection, can compel the rich to such an operation.

The rich man in possession of abundance, is enabled to make a hard bargain with the poor man, whose contract for labor, on which his life depends, will admit of no delay, and therefore he is obliged to work upon terms dictated by the rich, influenced only by the humanity or cruelty of his will.

O England, thou nation of humanity and intellect! I have travelled over the greatest part of the world, and have seen in most countries, the laborious order of animal matter, whether man or brute, in a state of equipoise between inanition and existence, owing to the insensibility and avarice of the rich, but in thy happy island, the peasant and his horse, though their labor is excessive, yet have all the strength and comfort which aliment can give; and intellect rewards the humanity of the rich by an increase of their revenue.

What incredible dupes are men to the passion of avarice, which drinks the blood of the animals, from whose labor its treasures are drawn, to save the expence of water.

Lest my irretentive memory should impose repetition for new matter upon the patience of my readers, I shall sum up the spirit of the matter contained in this work in the following concise and comprehensive aphorisms, which I recommend to the self-contemplation of my readers, as the only means to detect the truth or falsehood thereof; vanity in personal conversation, as well as in public polemical discussion, being an insurmountable obstacle to all impartial investigation.

The operation of the intellectual faculties, as the only intelligent cause of moral motion, is to be venerated, and its communication held sacred in the plenitude of liberty.

The end of all association is to assure the execution of the defensive volition of man, and to restrain the offensive, as the causes of happiness and misery.

Matter is indestructible and eternal, revolving through various combinations, animate and inanimate, which are its accidents to convey to it pain, pleasure, and consciousness of existence.

Animate matter, in possession of volition, or the direction of moral motion, forms happy identities or stages, to receive inanimate matter in time present and future.

All matter is in an incessant state of inter-revolution, which is proved by aliment, respiration, and perspiration.

Identity or essence, being but the accident of matter in combination, holds its eternal connection with Nature through the medium of indestructible matter.

The beings, I, you, and they, though their specific combination of identity and matter separate, are eternal through their primary and indissoluble connection with Nature, and the good and evil which our volition brings to the present system will be perpetuated to the future renovation of that connection.

Recommending the consideration of these important aphorisms to the self-contemplation of my readers, and the result of these to public communication, I conclude these speculations, and hope that the virtuous intention of reducing the moral chaos to system, by proving the universal connection of self and Nature, will apologise for this apparent dogmatical boldness, and conciliate the temper of the civilian, the learned, and the religionist, whom sensitive Nature with the agonizing groans and lamentations of misery, which error inflicts upon her, imprecates, to operate with the whole power of human intellect, emancipated from the tyranny of prejudice, to relieve it from its universally wretched predicament.

Invocation to Self[edit]


Let the effulgence of thy glorious essence open in gleams, and not in the fulness of its splendor, upon my intellect, lest it be confounded or destroyed. The glimmering of thy majesty, which waned in the "Revelation of Nature," elevated the faculty of thought beyond the power of speech, which broke out in faultering expressions. But this approach to thy sacred presence, overwhelms my essence, and thought becomes as inadequate to conception, as speech was before to thought. Oh! aid me to contemplate so much of thy glimmering light, as the essence of man is capable of, and to conform into thought and expression such a proportion, as being communicated, may furnish utility to existence.

O Self! component part of thy great integer, Nature—incomprehensible in thy cause and essence—comprehensible in thy ever-changing modes of existence—comprehensible in thy eternal connection with Nature, which all the powers of thought cannot separate—comprehensible motion in the volition of man—comprehensible in thought, the guide and guardian of that volition, to direct man to happiness, or to procure well-being to matter in its eternal revolution—comprehensible in sympathy, which unites the various links of beings in the great chain of Nature.

Arise in the mind of man in all the ardor of thy splendor—dissipate the clouds of credulity—show him, that faith, which is not founded on the conviction of the senses, is folly, thy most dangerous enemy, which through so many ages of ignorance has induced mankind to mistrust thy only representative, reason, and to sacrifice happiness by rebellion against thy beneficent sovereignty.

Inspire him with an high estimation of life or intellectual existence; the happiest period in the eternal revolution of matter, which may have revolved his connection in animal, vegetable, and inanimate orbits for millions of ages, before it arrives at intellectual life. Show him the importance of the human link in the chain of Nature, that it conveys the electric shock of pain or pleasure to the infinite connected links, whose extremes uniting in the circle of eternity make him participate in the vibrations caused by his action or motion.

O suffer not the vanity of knowledge to triumph over the utility of wisdom, by placing the study of the physical before that of the intellectual world! Teach man that the first step in the latter towards the knowledge of thy essence, is as much elevated above the highest degree of the former, as the heavens are [supposed to be] above the earth, and that a Newton is an ape, when compared with a child of Nature, or worshipper of Self. Expose to man the folly of dogma and the wisdom of doubt; that decision is at all times an avowal that reflection is weak; and judgment then becomes the familiar companion of the volition, and resigns its sovereignty, and by this abdication, intellectual sinks into animal existence.

Combat the vanity of erudition, the great leader of thy enemies, who, with the dust of letters, words and adopted ideas, envelope the glimmering of thy benignant light, and torment the sight of those who are watching thy rising aurora in the hemisphere of truth; confound that technical ingenuity by which man is enabled to deceive himself, and show that simple ignorance is wisdom, when compared with the folly of learned error.

While learning's phantoms darken all the sight,
Blank Ignorance makes way for genuine light.

Inspire man with the love of solitude or retirement, where removed from the factitious wants and troubles of civilization, and the operation of the intellectual faculty or thought, being sequestered from the concerns of life which would suppress it, he may delight in the peaceful contemplation and happy adoration of thy essence, and arrive through the only medium of thought to intellectual existence, and an enlightened state of Nature.

Suffer not the sacred majesty of truth to be dethroned by the vicious and chimerical idol of fear and error, or superstition, invented to pardon the vice and cruelty of the human species towards themselves, and the rest of sensitive creation, and therefore protect and authorise Violence, which thy sacred system proscribes as being the author of its own punishment. This imaginary daemon (whose attributes and actions if transfered to man, would form a monster, that the resentment of humanity would consign to punishment, infamy and execration,) has long terrified the human mind, with threats of fire and eternal torments; and has caused the miscarriage of its conception, thought, thy holy offspring, the saviour of all sensitive Nature.

O hasten to procure this immaculate conception, through the prolific germ of the light of reason! Guard thou the mind from all terrors of daemons and prejudices of error, lead it to the happy parturition of thought and expression, that this benignant offspring of reason may become like a true messiah, whose glory and power may precipitate the daemon of falsehood into the abyss of darkness and error, whence the imagination of fools or knaves brought it forth.

Open to the mind of man, the centre of the moral system in the sacred axiom; Force not the defensive will of sensitive Nature: O teach man this moral longitude, expose to him this source of moral motion, inspire him with wisdom to break off all connection with the brute creation, whose will he violates. Having no [adequate] intelligence of their wants and wishes, he must be the cause of great pain to that link of Nature, wherein his own connection is preparing to enter by the transformation of his matter by death, from intellectuality to animality.

O give to parents wisdom, to assimilate by persuasion, and not to force the will of children by violence! Teach them the importance of an intellectual being. Show them that children have a more sacred relation than that of birth; that they are identities or ducts, through which an indefinite quantity of matter passes, to enjoy the consciousness of existence, the sensation of pleasure; that this forms a paramount relation between it and Nature as its integer, and as such, is to be adored, revered, and rendered happy; which can only be done by holding its defensive will sacred; that should the ignorant being, man or brute, form an offensive will, this may be opposed either by violence or persuasion, and opposition becomes a non-electric to cut off the communication of violence, lest it agitate the electric chain of Nature.

Break down the entrenchments of error, strengthened with the cement of specious virtue, measured by relative truth. Show man that filial love or individual love of friendship is criminal, if social is sacrificed thereto; that social love is criminal, if national is sacrificed; that national is criminal, if love for universal man is sacrificed, and philanthropy is criminal, if sympathy for all sensitive Nature is sacrificed; that on this great orbit moves the divinity of Self, and that the being, whose insensibility permits him to inflict pain upon the most insignificant animal, is a monster in the code of Nature, and the whole scale of relative virtues are but vices, which act as nonelectrics, to separate his communication with the electrical chain of all sensitive Nature, where intellectual existence begins, and below which, all is mere animal existence, however distended its bubble is by knowledge or civilized by relative virtue.

Show man that the basis of the moral world is founded on the faculty of thought, or reason, and that both individuals and nations measure their happiness by its extent, that without this there can be no wisdom, no virtue, no civilization. The operation of minds divested of its influence may alternately produce good and evil, but nothing stable, nothing systematic, nothing universal.

O teach man to cultivate this inestimable faculty of thought, without which, the actions of brutes are as consequential as those of men! Establish thy holy temple on the liberty of the press, and though knaves and fools may unite in rebellion against thy majesty, lest its effulgence discover the atrocity of their privacy, thought, if free to act, will produce partizans of virtue to uphold thy throne (whose light reflects honor on their actions which seek no concealment,) to triumph over the rebellious ignorance of thoughtless men. Inspire man with this important truth, that the mind in the ratio of the faculty of thought, forms or deforms individual or social government, and approximates, or recedes from the acme of human essence, intellectual existence and an enlightened state of Nature. O guard this sacred source of moral perfection, increase the force of its current, which knaves, pedants, priests, and tyrants, through vice, interest, and ambition, labor to contract; while true philosophers, children of Nature, who fear not the benignant torrent, extend its channel to convey its fertilizing waters to the great shore of all sensitive Nature, whose boundary is marked by the evidence and effulgence of thy sacred majesty seated on the throne of reason!

Come forth then, thou comprehensible deity, Self, let volition give all its energy to thought, and trampling down the cobweb barriers of superstition and policy, force thy way to the throne of reason; and with the effulgent rays of thy beneficent sceptre, call forth the moral world from the chaos of darkness, to the order of the system in the manifestation of these sacred truths;

Utility is virtue, wisdom is happiness, and Self, understood, the only true object of adoration and contemplation.

"For Self and Nature link'd in one great frame,
Shows true self-love and Nature is the same.
Eternal matter to one centre brings,
Men chang'd to beasts and insects chang'd to kings.
Who dares with force on Nature's chain to strike,
On man or insect, jars the chain alike,
On Self, which changing, never quits the chain
In life or death, transmits or joy or pain.



Having, I hope, proved that the source of moral motion is happiness of self, understood or extended to the system of all sensitive Nature, that whatever is hurtful or evil to Nature, must be so to self, and the reverse; I shall endeavor to lay down the moral longitude, that may direct the progress of thought in its operations, to arrive thereat.

The greatest geniuses among mankind have hitherto confined all their speculations within the circle of animal existence, and relative truth has been their compass. The "Revelation of Nature" has past those boundaries, and opens to man the extensive world of intellectual life. The compass here must be abstract truth, and the measure of longitude the defensive will of all sensitive Nature. The being who does violence to an insect, navigates without a chart or compass, and must be shipwrecked on the shoals of animal life. He may, in the use of his own defensive will, remove or destroy the insect, if it continues to give him real or bodily pain; but then thought and sympathy must have in view the utility of all Nature, and violence must be proportioned to a strict necessity, and that, with extreme regret and pain to the agent. By this moderation, sympathy will be preserved, and the chain of Nature will receive no vibration from the dissolution or change of any particular link, whose animality or ignorance disturbed the happiness of the most sensitive part of Nature. This moderation is opposed by relative truth in animal existence, because sympathy would become the victim of its own virtue. But in a state of intellectual existence, virtue, or sympathy and probity, seeks no defence in personal violence (except in the extreme necessity above mentioned) but by infusing its influence into the enemy of self and Nature, and thereby assimilating his will and changing his vicious qualities.

While mankind remain in a state of animal existence, furiously agitated in the vortex of passions, the best form of government must be that which restrains the will, and liberates or augments thought, as is the case with England; for it depends upon the people or juries, who are the guardians of the liberty of the press, to extend or contract its powers. A verdict lately given in Ireland, has done more essential service to humanity, than the Revolution in France, which has prematurely taken off the shackles from the passions; whereas the Irish have taken off the shackles from reason, and leave them on the will, till wisdom shall bring man from the nonage of error and prejudice, to the majority or adult age of reason and truth.

The present state of civilization has so augmented the factitious wants and passions of men, that self is thereby contracted into a point, and has scarce centrifugal force enough to reach the orbit of relatives or friends. What a distance between this narrow circle and the immense one of all sensitive Nature! Thought, however, if free to operate and promulgate itself, cannot fail to extend the elasticity of essence to the boundary of intellectual existence, however compressed by the energy of the passions; and should France preserve social tranquillity for even the space of five years, there will be such a collision of thought and communication of ideas with England, as will strike out sparks of truth, enough to illumined the whole world, and bring man to intellectual existence and an enlightened state of Nature.

I have found it impossible in the foregoing work, to form any other chart for the vessel of humanity to approach the beacon of abstract truth, but by the simple line of thought and reflection, which operates like the seed, whose progress to the state of a plant cannot be described, and whose directory is contained in the word disseminate, as is the moral directory in the word think; for in every part of the globe I find men in possession of conscious happiness in proportion to the faculty of thought; and though the indications of joy are more frequent among animal men, yet one moment of conscious is worth a century of animal existence, which diffuses internal, perpetual, and inexpressible peace and happiness, and elevates the intellectual being as much above the animal, as that is above the vegetable.

I must deprecate humanity to consider the ideas in the foregoing work to have been the pure operation of thought, agitated with the sufferings of all sensitive Nature. I have endeavored, through great danger, difficulty and suffering, to study by travelling the sources of good and ill. If, by exposing them, I have offended the prejudices of individuals and nations, it was from the same motive that the surgeon torments his patients,—only to heal their wounds. I never had but one enemy in the world; he attempted my life; I both forgave him and pitied him. Good men must be happy, and bad men miserable, and the former can never suffer resentment to augment the misery of the latter; they will pity the victims of ignorance, and endeavor to remove this universal cause of universal ill, by disseminating thought and reflection, the parent of wisdom and happiness.

I disclaim the appropriation of ideas, and therefore have not put my name to this work: they can gain neither credit or discredit from the author, and he seeks no reward or praise, but what arises from the consciousness of good intent. They are texts or themes for the exercitation of the mental faculties on a more extensive and important sphere than has hitherto been presented to the mind of man, and should they be the means of extending its powers through the faculty of thought and reflection, these few philanthropic pages will be crowned with abundant success, and the labor of their author most amply rewarded.

Before I conclude, I must again consider an event (the Revolution in France) where man has passed the Rubicon of relative truth, and must press straight forward to the source of moral motion or knowledge of self; for should it turn aside by one oblique step of temporizing policy, to contend with, or imitate other nations, it will lose its equipoise upon the delicate line of right, which leads thereto, and fall into anarchy, and from thence into an abyss of despotism. The poor must be conscientiously and comfortably provided with subsistence, lest their frequent appearance and neglected supplications in public streets, should paralyse the fine sympathy of man. How many thousands in the streets of London and Paris contract into the narrow sphere of animal existence, by a habit of refusing aid to supplicating fellow-creatures in distress. Probity must be guarded by reforming the chicanery and dupery of commerce. Means must be discovered to prevent adulteration of specie, whose falsity is a dreadful enemy to probity; and a bad shilling received, which casuistry justifies the passing into the hand of another whom we cheat, introduces corruption into a heart, whose integrity would be otherwise impregnable.[1] Personal vanity must be humbled—thought and speech must be absolutely free, and no man must be permitted to murder a fellow creature for offensive sentiments. Calumny, when rendered public, will always be detected. An innocent man may feel a temporary injury, but conscience will in the end triumph, and the approaches to thought, the source of intellectual life, must be cleared of all terror and impediment. To this source the French nation must proceed in a straight line, and take large draughts of its stream to enable them to proceed, and to detect vice under the mask of virtue. Virtue and merit, in an acquaintance, must not be sacrificed to the selfish partiality of friendship. Principles of sympathy and probity must not be sacrificed to dissipated and thoughtless liberality. Pure benevolence, and not bartered gratitude, must be the only motive of beneficence; and love itself must expand into the great circle of all sensitive Nature, leaving the grosser parts or dregs to the commerce of pleasure, and joining friendship to those passions, which in proportion as they in animal existence are able to contract the essence of self to a narrow circle, are changed by intellectual existence into the unison of sympathy and probity, the only laws of motion, upholding the moral system, which the conventional virtues and customs of civilization tend to destroy, by cutting off the communication between self and sensitive Nature, by the partial duties of friend, parent, and citizen, or the boundaries of seas and mountains; and thus confine intellectual beings within the limits of sheep. But thought breaks down these animal barriers, and expands self into the union with its integer Nature.

That political energy which the active and unjust policy of nations demands, France must totally lose, and defence will rest in virtue (or sympathy and probity) which will intellectualize those animal monsters, called conquerors, that may attempt to subdue them, and having had the glory to cast the pebble of truth into the lake of humanity, their locality will feel the most violent agitations for a while, and will then spread into those softer undulations, which will reach from the centre self to the shore of all sensitive Nature, to propel the vessel of life to the harbor of intellectual existence and an enlightened state of Nature.

I could not close my book till I had added some further considerations of the all of virtue, Sympathy.

Sympathy is the gravitation of the moral system, and men, in proportion as their essence contains less or more, become meteors agitated by every blast of passion, or intellectualized bodies, moving with its density in the virtuous and stable orbit of society, comprehending all sensitive Nature.

In a high state of animation or sensibility, divested of reason, as it is found in some characters among the English, Irish, and Malay nations, Sympathy changes its nature and delights in the suffering, of sensitive creatures.

I shall endeavor to trace the cause of this moral phenomenon. I find in the first instance a great conformity between these nations in the customs of tormenting animals. The first and second are equally delighted with the cruelty of the chase, running horses to death in racing and travelling, bull-baiting, cock-fighting, &c. The Malay nation has no other diversion but cock fighting, which occupies the whole of their leisure hours; by these diversions the sensations of Sympathy are totally suppressed. Self is connected into a point, and its link in the chain of Nature feels no vibration, from even the most approximate parts; hence, in the two former nations, those frequent personal assaults, in which the finer feelings of Sympathy are sacrificed to the vanity of an hypocritical reputation, which they have esteem for, only as it is profitable, but have no consciousness to enjoy or discover, that true virtue consists in Sympathy—the centre and circumference of all that is good. Nature has singled out these countries to produce the most extraordinary productions of vice and infamy. England has lately given birth to a monster, who singled out the most beautiful and best works of Nature, handsome, innocent women, who wantonly stabbed several in their thighs to gratify an infernal passion of seeing the blood run, and hearing the groans and agonies of fair and innocent victims. Ireland sent forth an assassin to murder a philosopher who had dared to censure the vice of that island; and with a head as depraved as his heart, the ruffian by that atrocious intent to crush the germ of happiness by extinguishing the light of thought, confirmed the testimony he intended to confute. Malacca produces monsters on purpose, one would think, to avenge the cause of Sympathy, for the death of one cock in battle bringing despair upon the owner, urges him to draw his dagger, and destroy promiscuously every one within his reach.

Personal assaults, duelling and boxing are become so common in England and Ireland, that if the laws do not immediately extend the arm of protection to innocent and sympathetic minds, they must emigrate to the continent to claim from tyranny an asylum against the ferocious despotism of individuals; and to enjoy a greater personal security than lawless liberty can afford; and I am induced to think that the residence of many English in foreign countries is caused by such reflections; for whoever has travelled into foreign countries as an observer, must be sensible of the great contrast between their peaceful manners and the turbulence of England.

These observations will tend to show the necessity not only of refraining from violence, but of breaking off all connection with the brute creation; as they cannot explain the pain which their loss of liberty may cause, and as our own connections may shortly assume those links in the chain of existence, and man would also gain by assuming their labor. The vortex of industry would be moderated, and labor become less; great cities, the cause of much moral and physical evil, would be changed, into happy villages; exercise would procure health of body; repose and content,—peace of mind; and sympathy being cultivated and established, would fix the centre of the moral world upon the most sacred Law of Nature: Force not the defensive will of any part of sensitive Nature.

To conclude, I must conjure my readers to consider the sentiments contained in these pages, not as proceeding from passion or partiality. I have censured most; those nations whose individuals I most love, and with whom I most live; I mean the Irish and the French, whose urbanity, facility, joyous and liberal characters, are as pleasing and necessary to society, as the joys of sexual love are to animal existence. Not so the moroseness and spleen of the English, whose thought, however powerful, if not directed by wisdom, may claim esteem, as it shows human nature in a progress to intellectuality, but does not seduce my love, though it obtains all my admiration and praise. I must entreat my readers to consider these sentiments, as not coming from the brain of a ministerial hireling, who prostitutes his pen to parties—a famished author who writes to live—a poet who writes for fame—a religionist who writes from enthusiasm—a dogmatist who writes from the pride of erudition; but to respect and examine them as the holy emanations of thought, from an intellectual atom struggling to discover the source, or centre of well-being or happiness, and conscious of being an inseparable part of an eternal whole, or Nature, and who though ceasing to be man, yet cannot cease to be, regards Thought as the true and comprehensible deity; and the sanctity of defensive volition, as incontrovertible religion, whose ritual is persuasion, to effect union, when the happiness of associated beings demands it, which the mind in a state of intellectuality must assent to as the only means of producing happiness to self as the centre of the system of all sensitive Nature; and in this union, pain inflicted on the circumference affects the centre, as much as the pain of the toe affects every other part of the human body.

Adore then, O fellow selves! immortal parts of immortal Nature, the divinity of Thought; and though its issue in the mouth of man may irritate pride, vanity and vice, it can never injure conscious innocence or real virtue. Rebel not against the majesty of this omnipotent sovereign of happiness and well-being, by inflicting personal violence to avenge verbal insult.[2] The issue of thought in opprobious language directed towards an object whose actions are virtuous and good, recoils upon its own source. Adore the sacred and comprehensible divinity of Thought, by establishing such humane associations and[3] institutions as may be a mild guardian to the volition, or a liberal substitute for weak judgment, till by the free cultivation and communication of ideas, man arrives at Intellectual Existence and an Enlightened State of Nature.

  1. This is most lamentably exemplified in England, where the debasement of the coin is become a tolerated profession, and has done more injury to the morality of this country in a few years, than the baneful effects of luxury would do in a century.
  2. Individual avarice is no less repugnant to public prosperity, in evading the payment of taxes, than individual vice or vanity is repugnant to the progress of social and moral perfection, in sacrificing the liberty of the press, or of speech, to private reputation.
  3. Whoever takes a comprehensive and relative view of the corrupt state of nations and individuals, caused by factitious wants, and incapacity of judgment, will have reason to congratulate the English nation upon the perfection of its government, which seems calculated to effect the sacred end of moral perfection, and cannot be endangered by a gradual and partial reform, conducted by men of virtue and wisdom, who alone can merit or acquire the confidence of their fellow citizens.

Thoughts on Government[edit]


How reluctant I feel to close this inerudite developement of the most important and useful ideas the press has ever presented to the discusion and contemplation of man! The present state of civil commotions demands urgently, from every thinking being, the whole scope of thought and reflection, to discover a happy basis, and fixed principles of civil union.

Ignorance being the cause of all moral evil, and therefore the universal enemy of mankind, the end of all union must be to combat this monster. This can only be done by assembling the different particles of wisdom and virtue, that may be found in a state, to restrain the liberty and violence of passions in the ignorant and vicious part thereof, in the same manner as mental government is formed in an individual, whose liberty is relaxed in proportion to his discretion, and parental authority ceases with the maturity of judgment, whose development is cultivated, but never restrained. If the volition of the child, or ignorant citizen, is restrained, judgment is trampled upon, and passion leads on to personal and civil misery, to which no remedy can be applied, but absolute and despotic restraint.

The British government, if critically examined, will corroborate and elucidate these reflections. We find the constitution in the hands of a select body of citizens, who living for the most part upon the produce of their estates, are exempted from the temptation of necessary wants, which commercial people being exposed to, cannot possess those sentiments of rectitude and independence, that are necessary for the administration of public affairs; though factitious wants and passions may lead, the gentleman to succumb to temptation, yet, as the latter wants are not so imperious as those of necessity, ten tradesmen would be victims for one gentleman.

Thus men of independent fortunes, whose education and habits of life give them more wisdom and virtue, are delegated legislative guardians of a constitution, to restrain the actions and passions of the great body of the people, whose necessities leave no time for the acquisition of wisdom, and no means of practising rectitude and independence. These, however, are left in full possession of the absolute liberty of thought and its communication; and if the liberty of the press has been at any time violated by the arbitrary decision of wicked and ignorant judges, it was owing to the ignorance of the people, in giving up this, the most sacred principle in all civil institutions:

Nothing can be libellous but falsehood, and even falsehood is not criminal, if proved to be error of opinion.

In treating of all matters, where the paramount interest of society, Humanity, or all sensitive Nature is concerned, the government of England, founded upon these principles, is the most exquisite workmanship of human reason, above all others adapted to approximate the beacon of speculative truth, with a practice suitable to the present state of policy and morality, tending to augment the volition in the ratio of the increase of judgment, the only secure process to moral and social perfection.

Whoever has travelled much on the Continent, with a small share of observation and penetration, must have remarked the little difference of moral excellence between the titled noble and the degraded peasant, and except the powder in the hair, the contortions of the countenance, and affected gestures of the body, Excellenza of Italy, Margrave of Germany, and Marquis of France, would have no mark of discrimination from the People, but their titles. They speak in the same language for want of education; treat upon the same principles for want of integrity, and hold the same sentiments for want of thought; civil and military subordination is upheld by the single thread of a tyrant, and if an insurrection of the people should cut it, society is thrown into the same confusion as pearls from a broken necklace, and having no confidence, which can arise only from moral excellence, they remain in this state till some neighboring despot sweeps them into the gulph of tyranny.

In England alone there is an evident moral excellence paramount to title. The soldier is very inferior to his officer, and the subject to the peer, in education, sentiment and thought. Hence that civil and military subordination, the effect of respect, and not the fear of law, which enables, by its discipline, the union of society in the silken bonds of liberty, to triumph over the chainbound subjects of tyrants, and has enabled Britain, with ten millions of people, to triumph over almost all the globe contending in arms against her. It is this moral excellence that guards her constitution against the insidious designs of libertine patriots, who seek to remedy the derangements of their private affairs, (brought on by thoughtlessness and dissipation,) by reforming and improving the economy of society, whose system and administration demand the most profound reasoning, and extensive faculty of thought, to direct the public volition to the goal of prosperity.

O Britons! worship with ardor this comprehensible Deity, Thought, that by extending its influence and inspiration, your characteristic spleen and moroseness may be changed into complacency, liberality, and toleration, that proselytes may be induced to approach its shrine, and quit the fleeting uncertain joys of animal, for the conscious and permanent happiness of intellectual existence; for which glorious end, thought has established its inceptive dominion in this island, to guard against the dangerous encroachments of insidious customs and policy, which pervade a continent, and whose situation is incompatible with the safety of thy empire.

O Thought! Great first cause where comprehension meets incomprehensibility; Author of all moral good and ill; Intelligent cause of motion, develope thyself in the effulgent benevolence of thy essence; guide man to the acme of existence, through thy culture in the religion of Nature; endue him with that strength of wisdom, to adjust the liberty of volition, to the augmentation of judgment; spread thy benignant grace over all the world, to regenerate man to intellectual existence, and establish the moral system of self and sensitive Nature in place of the chaos of ignorance, and the civilization of animal existence. Take under thy peculiar protection the liberty of the press, and inspire jurymen with so holy a respect for thy divinity, that though the ardor of thy glorious rays, collected by error, may burn, the benignity of thy nature cannot be impeached; and action, the result of malicious error, may alone be condemned and punished.

I must admonish my readers not to confound the doctrine of the eternity of existence under different modes of inter-revolution, with the Pythagorean doctrine of transmigration of spirit, or specific change of mode into mode, thereby confounding true principles, and leading the mind into ignorance and error, by pretending to develope and explain the process and connection of cause and effect. The doctrine of the former, teaches the indestructibility of the whole or any part of Nature. That matter which upon dissolution ceases to be man, does not cease to exist, but flows into the ocean of matter, to form new entities, and without disclosing the mode of the process or manifesting any specific identity, is like the river which flows into the ocean and may become portions of rivers again; this idea ought to be consolatory, and encouraging to men to abstain from violence, the author of all evil in the Ocean of Nature, whose waters calmed or troubled by man's wisdom or ignorance in a state of intellectuality, conveys with the undulations of pain and pleasure his changeable existence to all eternity.

This work was published before January 1, 1927, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.