No attribute so well befits the exalted seat supreme, and powers disposing hand, as clemency. Each crime must from its quality be judged; and pity there should interpose, where malice is not the aggressor.
There is often no material difference between the enjoyment of the highest ranks and those of the rudest stages of society. If the life of many a young English nobleman, and an Iroquois in the forest, or an Arab in the desert are compared. it will be found that their real sources of happiness are nearly the same.
Such is the diligence with which, in countries completely civilized, one part of mankind labor for another, that wants are supplied faster than they can be formed, and the idle and luxurious find life stagnate for want of some desire to keep it in motion. This species of distress furnishes a new set of occupations; and multitudes are busied from day to day in finding the rich and the fortunate something to do.
A semi-civilized state of society, equally removed from the extremes of barbarity and of refinement, seems to be that particular meridian under which all the reciprocities and gratuities of hospitality do most readily flourish and abound. For it so happens that the ease, the luxury, and the abundance of the highest state of civilization, are as productive of selfishness, as the difficulties, the privations, and the sterilities of the lowest.
We are but too apt to consider things in the state in which we find them, without sufficiently adverting to the causes by which they have been produced, and possibly may be upheld. Nothing is more certain than that our manners, our civilization, and all the good things which are connected with civilization, have, in this European world of ours, depended for ages upon two principles, and were indeed the result of both combined. I mean the spirit of a gentleman and the spirit of religion. The nobility and the clergy, the one by profession, the other by patronage, kept learning in existence even in the midst of arms and confusion. Learning paid back what it received to nobility and priesthood, and paid it back with usury by enlarging their ideas and furnishing their minds.