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66 which is the fruit of a tree yielding feed, to you
it shall be for meat *."
In all that admirable variety of appearances which Nature exhibits to our view, the eye of a just observer must ever recognise that beautiful fimplicity and economy which uniformly pervade her works.
ONE man and one woman were fufficient to people the earth.
The creation of more persons of the human species than one male and one female, who were under the special care of the Divine Being, was unnecessary.
The first man and woman must have been formed in full possession of those instincts, which lead to self-preservation and the propagation of the species. Having come out of the hand of the Creator perfect in their kind, they unerringly obeyed the laws of their nature: they ate of
the fruits of the earth, which grew in profusion around them: they increased and multiplied. While they remained in the garden of Eden, they were secure from the attacks of ferocious animals : the bounties of Nature gratified in abundance their appetite for food: there existed not, as yet, any situations or circumstances to call forth the display of those arts of contrivance and ingenuity which the human mind puts in practice in the progressive stages of society.
PRIMEVAL Man, unassailed by the anxieties which a scanty provision of food creates, obeyed the dictates of his nature without control : he fed, he slept ; or, incited to action by the native enjoyment which is felt in the exercise of the members of the body, he sported in innocence, and gratified the social disposition of his kind.
In such happy state it was not the lot of humanity long to continue. Man received from
of the fun’s genial rays, the food of Man grew in profusion before his eyes: prepared by the hand of Nature, it required no degree of human art to make it palatable. Like all other granivorous animals, the human species herded together, and fed in common. The air which they breathed, the water which they drank, the food which they ate, were all equally the bounties of Nature, and were indiscriminately enjoyed in the state of prineval fimplicity.
The happiest climates are not blessed with a constant sun and a serene sky. The grateful light periodically withdraws its cheering influence: Man finds himself enveloped in darkness; that season in which the fierce tribes of carnivorous animals fally forth from their dens in search of their prey. Man must, therefore, have very early employed his art in building a fufficient fence against such dangerous enemies, or have taken the benefit of receptacles already prepared by Nature for his nightly habitation :
Proque domo longis fpelunca recessibus ingens
Abdita, vix ipsis invenienda feris *.
MAN, advanced in refinement of manners, and practising those arts of improved civility and studied policy which link together the subjects of great states, nations, and empires, cannot easily quit his artificial station, and descend to the level of his primeval ancestors. He is apt to consider the accounts given of early societies of mankind living in caves, in the holes of rocks, or hollows of trees, as the effufion of poetical fancy, as the offspring of the vain credulity of fabulous historians, or as the invention of travellers who delight in the relation of marvellous things. But the philosophic enquirer will not hasily reject the testimony of authors recounting facts relative to the original state of Man, because they are inconsistent with the train of his experience in improved society; or because it may be considered
* Ovid. 1. Fast
as incompatible with the elevation and dignity of station which the human species are observed to hold among all sublunary beings, to be assimilated to the beasts of the field, herding together, cohabiting promiscuoully, feeding in common upon the flesh of other animals, or upon fruits, roots, and herbs, without any regular notion of religion, government, arts, or property.
« MISERET atque etiam pudet asimantem, quam fit frivola animalium nobiliffimi origo *."
It is, however, no less unwise than unphilofophical, to give way to so painful a feeling upon the subject of the original state of Man's existence, whether he is confidered in his individual or aggregate capacity. All things are the work of the Supreme Author of the Universe : from the energy of his power every being derives his existence.
* Plin. Nat. Hift. lib. vii. cap. 7.