To Daniel George

    Philadelphia        16 May 1794

    My dear Sir—

    We are decieved by words and phraises, and imposed upon by names & Characters—We go with a party without knowing it, as a Ship in the Gulf stream is under quick way while the sailors percieve no motion—Every man is right, and habitually blaims others for not being like himself—He sees clearly the mite in his neighbours eye, but the mountain in his own makes no impression. Hence he becomes insulated; as it were, a little world to himself; and things are good or bad, Conduct is right or wrong relatively to himself this self only—

    Hartley has made a three fold division of self-love; not so much founded on any diversity of the nature of Selfishness, as on the objects from which this Self draws its pleasures—His division is into Gross Self interest, Rational refined Self-interest, and rational Self interest1

    The first consists in a cool pursuit of the means of obtaining the pleasures, & avoiding the pains of Sensation, imagination & ambition—Refined Self interest consists in a like pursuit of the means of procuring the pleasures, & avoiding the pains of Sympathy, Theopathy2 & the moral Sense—His last branch of Self-Love, which he calls rational, does not appear to me to be marked with such distinguishing Lines of seperation as the other two are from each other—And he seems to define it as consisting in obtaining the means of the greatest possible degree of happiness generally, from whatever source that may arise—without having in view any specific known pleasure as its object—such as the unknown joys of the new-Jerusalem, & avoiding the pains that are commonly called unutterable woe & misery without knowing any thing about them—And I confess I am not enough acquainted with his system to say whether the last head is necessary, or whether it is involved in the second—

    Hence, tho it may be true that all people are equally selfish, yet the gratification of this self consisting in different objects, it will readily be admitted that one man is better or worse than another if we make the happiness of the greatest number a criterion, in proportion as his self is gratified by the objects of Gross or refined self interest—Because it is pretty clear that a general pursuit of the pleasures of sympathy Theopathy & the moral sense will promote general felicity far beyond that of the pleasures of sensation, imagination & ambition—It will not follow, however, that all desire for the pleasures of this latter class are wrong—or ought to be avoided—

    Hereafter I propose to pursue this subject with greater attention & minuteness than I am capable of doing at this time—I wish Hartley could be recommended for a Book of general Study—particularly by the Clergy—who are or ought to be the instructors of all classes of people—I know of no book which promises so much towards a clear understanding [of] the science of morality, and human nature as this—

    You have much time for reading—why will you not take this book & study it, till you make yourself master of all his principles—write a comment on the obscure passages, & make the whole familiar by illustrations & examples from common Life—

    We have no late news from Europe—our last was from Boston, which sais, the French had taken the Islands of Jersey & Guernsey—But it hardly gains credit yet—Because, we do not look upon their capture of much benefit to the Republic; & the possession of them must demand troops & ships—

    All circumstances seem to favor the inexpediency of a further continuance of the embargo—beyond the twenty fifth of May—


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    ALS, TFP