Club it part 1 essay – cioubuzravecobalrifuddnacdonel
§ 12. If any one shall imagine that I have forgot my own notion of a law, when I make the law, whereby men judge of virtue and vice, to be nothing else but the consent of private men, who have not authority enough to make a law: especially wanting that, which is so necessary and essential to a law, a power to enforce it: I think I may say, that he who imagines commendation and disgrace not to be strong motives to men, to accommodate themselves to the opinions and rules of those with whom they converse, seems little skilled in the nature or history of mankind: the greatest part whereof he shall find to govern themselves chiefly, if not solely, by this law of fashion; and so they do that which keeps them in reputation with their company, little regard the laws of God, or the magistrate. The penalties that attend the breach of God’s laws, some, nay, perhaps most men, seldom seriously reflect on; and amongst those that do, many, whilst they break the law, entertain thoughts of future reconciliation, and making their peace for such breaches. And as to the punishments due from the laws of the commonwealth, they frequently flatter themselves with the hopes of impunity. But no man escapes the punishment of their censure and dislike, who offends against the fashion and opinion of the company he keeps, and would recommend himself to. Nor is there one of ten thousand, who is stiff and insensible enough to bear up under the constant dislike and condemnation of his own club. He must be of a strange and unusual constitution, who can content himself to live in constant disgrace and disrepute with his own particular society. Solitude many men have sought, and been reconciled to: but nobody, that has the least thought or sense of a man about him, can live in society under the constant dislike and ill opinion of his familiars, and those he converses with. This is a burden too heavy for human sufferance: and he must be made up of irreconcileable contradictions, who can take pleasure in company, and yet be insensible of contempt and disgrace from his companions.
It is part of his Essays: Second Series, published in 1844
13. Connected in some sort with the forementioned essay, and in their way equally valuable, are his tracts on Education and the early Conduct of the Understanding; both worthy, as we apprehend, of a more careful perusal than is commonly bestowed upon them, the latter more especially, which seems to be little known and less attended to. It contains an easy popular illustration of some discoveries in the foregoing essay, particularly that great and universal law of nature, the support of so many mental powers, (v. g. that of memory under all its modifications) and which produces equally remarkable effects in the intellectual, as that of gravitation does in the material world;—I mean the association of ideas: the first hint whereof did not appear till the fourth edition of his essay, and then came in as it were by the by, under some very peculiar circumstances, and in comparatively trivial instances; the author himself seeming not to be sufficiently aware of its extensiveness, and the many uses to which it is applicable, and has been applied of late by several of our own writers. The former tract abounds with no less curious and entertaining than useful observations on the various tempers and dispositions of youth: with proper directions for the due regulation and improvement of them, and just remarks on the too visible defects in that point; nor should it be looked upon as merely fitted for the instruction of schoolmasters or nurses, but as affording matter of reflection to men of business, science, and philosophy. The several editions of this treatise, which has been much esteemed by foreigners, with the additions made to it abroad, may be seen in Gen. Dict. Vol. VII. p. 145.
§ 10. Thirdly, the law of opinion or reputation. Virtue and vice are names pretended and supposed every-where to stand for actions in their own nature right and wrong; and as far as they really are so applied, they so far are co-incident with the divine law above-mentioned. But yet whatever is pretended, this is visible, that these names virtue and vice, in the particular instances of their application, through the several nations and societies of men in the world, are constantly attributed only to such actions as in each country and society are in reputation or discredit. Nor is it to be thought strange, that men every-where should give the name of virtue to those actions, which amongst them are judged praise-worthy; and call that vice, which they account blameable; since otherwise they would condemn themselves, if they should think any thing right, to which they allowed not commendation: any thing wrong, which they let pass without blame. Thus the measure of what is every-where called and esteemed virtue and vice, is the approbation or dislike, praise or blame, which by a secret and tacit consent establishes itself in the several societies, tribes, and clubs of men in the world; whereby several actions come to find credit or disgrace amongst them, according to the judgment, maxims, or fashion of that place. For though men uniting into politic societies have resigned up to the public the disposing of all their force, so that they cannot employ it against any fellow-citizens, any farther than the law of the country directs; yet they retain still the power of thinking well or ill, approving or disapproving of the actions of those whom they live amongst, and converse with: and by this approbation and dislike they establish amongst themselves what they will call virtue and vice.